Through the ages Islam has been the largest and most vicious opponent and persecutor of Christians. By the tenth century the Muslim armies had annihilated half of all the Christians in the world of that time. Today the Islamic Jihad against Christians continues and the sharpest confrontations between Christianity and Islam in the world are in Africa.
Islam claims the whole of North Africa (what were once the lands of great Christian leaders and famous writers such as Tertullian, Origin, Ignatius and Augustine). In 17 countries in Africa Muslims are the majority. In every one of those Islamic states Christians are restricted and persecuted to differing degrees.
In Sudan, the largest country in Africa, the longest war of this century is still in progress. The Muslim Arab North is waging a relentless war against the mainly Christian Black South and against the Nuba in Central Sudan.
In Morocco, it is against the law to “proselytize” (evangelise) or to “shake the faith” of a Muslim. The Islamic government refuses to recognise any church that has Moroccan nationals as members. Christians have even been imprisoned for years merely for handing out Gospel literature.
In Algeria, Islamicist groups such as the National Salvation Front and the Armed Islamic Group have been waging a brutal war of terror to enforce an Islamic state upon the nominally secular (formerly Marxist) National Liberation Front dictatorship. The NLF government's move to declare Algeria an Islamic state is unlikely to satisfy the aspirations of the Islamic extremists.
Most of the tens of thousands of victims of this Islamic campaign of terror have been Muslims. But many of the victims are Christians who have been bombed, shot or hacked to death. Many Algerian women have had acid thrown in their faces by Islamicists determined to force all women to wear a veil!
Christians accused of “apostasy” or “proselytizing” in Egypt face imprisonment and torture from the authorities, as well as kidnapping, forced conversions to Islam, rape and murder from Islamic militants.
In Nigeria, where Muslims are a large minority, Muslims have burned down hundreds of churches and killed thousands of Christians in recent years. Christians in the area claim that they are facing a systematic campaign to “wipe out any traces of Christianity in the northern states” of Nigeria.
In Mauritania, not only is slavery practised but the death penalty for apostasy (converting from Islam) is part of the penal code and is enforced by the state.
In Somalia, (just before the US military went in under the UN) the last remaining church in the country was destroyed. And the last surviving minister was murdered by Muslim mobs.
The most relentlessly violent persecution of the church today is in Sudan. The largest country in Africa is still in the grip of the longest war of this century. Since 1955 the Muslim Arab North has been attacking the Black South.
Rolling Back the Islamic Offensive
The Islamic offensive against Christianity in Sudan cannot succeed. The number of Christians in Sudan has increased from 2% in 1955 to 20% today. And in the South, Christians now form a majority.
Muslims are coming to Christ in Sudan in unprecedented numbers. One commander defected with his whole battalion of government troops to the SPLA. I have heard defectors tell me personally: “We want to become Christians. We want to fight for the South!”
The reasons for this massive turning to Christ in Sudan are threefold: Firstly, the extreme harshness and cruelty of the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime is repelling Muslims. Secondly, the resilience and courage of the Christians is attracting Muslims. Thirdly, in Sudan converts from Islam have a place where they can flee to – where they can enjoy religious freedom. As the SPLA resistance movement wins more territory, we can expect even more Muslims to take advantage of the protection this can offer them to come to Christ without the fear of being executed by the Muslim government of Sudan.
The desperate needs and challenging opportunities for ministry in Sudan are overwhelming. God is clearly doing an incredible work of grace in Sudan and it is our privilege to serve His suffering Church.
You may ask: “What can I do?”
1.Be informed. “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6. Obtain the new edition of our book. Faith Under Fire in Sudan, and other reports in Frontline Fellowship News on Sudan. Pass on copies of this information to editors, pastors and congressmen.
2.Be interceding. “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them . . .” Hebrews 13:3. Pray for the persecuted. Encourage your pastor to pray for the persecuted from the pulpit.
3.Be involved. “In as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” Matthew 25:40.
Speak up for the persecuted. Write letters to the editor of your local magazine or newspaper. Write to your elected representative urging pressure on the persecutors and assistance to the persecuted. Organise donations of Bibles, medicines or other essentials.The Christian Church in Southern Sudan is on the very frontline of the fight for faith and freedom. We can strengthen the Christians in Sudan to not only survive the severe persecution, but to win their persecutors to Christ. We are making disciples of the emerging New Sudan.
Just in the last 3 years, in Sudan alone, Frontline Fellowship has delivered over 90 000 Bibles and Christian books in 21 languages. We have also conducted over 1 000 services and meetings inside Sudan including Pastors Training Courses, Medical Workshops, Biblical Worldview Seminars, God and Government Seminars, Reformation and Revival Seminars and Muslim Evangelism Workshops.
We can have a part in helping to make history in the Middle East. We can roll back the southward expansion of Islam and reclaim Sudan for Christ.
Dr. Peter Hammond