In the past several months there has been succession of pieces of good news coming from Sudan. Sudan — of genocide and jihad fame.
It started, of course, with demonstrations by the people of Sudan in cities and villages alike. They led to the downfall of the regime’s long-time president, Omar al Bashir. And the latest news was the gobsmacking announcement of Sudan being taken off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list by the United States. And of Sudan normalizing relations with Israel!
There’s a lot to unpack in all of those changes and events. But even on the most superficial level : what on earth is going on? You could evaluate Sudan’s dramatic transition in one of these ways:
- All in Sudan is suddenly sweetness and light. Everyone has changed for the better. Sudan is on its way to joining the community of nations. It now believes in freedom of religion and secular democracy. There will be no more more persecution of Christians. Nor will there be attacks on the marginalized people groups of Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, Beja Land, etc.
- It’s a very complicated situation. Some of the leaders of Sudan’s transitional government really want democracy and religious freedom. Others are hardcore Islamists but are doing what they need to do in order to get sanctions lifted. We (USG and other nations) shouldn’t take for granted that they will do what they have promised. But we should be cautiously hopeful and firm in our demands.
- This is a sign that the Messiah, Christ, is going to return soon. The peace agreement with rebel groups and the declarations for religious freedom are going to give a big opening to the preaching of the Gospel in Sudan. This will lead to spiritual revival in Sudan and the last Great Awakening around the world before Jesus comes back.
- It’s 2020. What do you expect in such an insane, turned-upside down year? There is no way we can know what is really going on, if it is genuine change or a giant farce.
Maybe the answer is a little of each of those options.
For Now, Please Pray
I’ll dig in to the issues more in the future. But for now, we can definitely pray. Pray that the government of Sudan will see how pleasant it is to have favor with the world. And that they see how nice to not have your citizens hate and fear you. Pray that the Church will be bold in this time when the door is opened. Pray for protection of Church and of the marginalized people groups. Pray that the US and other Western nations won’t be optimistic and starry-eyed. If they are in denial they could miss warning signs that could come that all is not well in Sudan. And pray that those who are counting on doing business with Sudan will only do so with the utmost integrity and concern for the people of Sudan.
For more information, here is a Middle East Forum webinar that I did on September 23 on this subject. In this webinar I focus particularly on the unexpected move on September 3 by Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and the leader of the Nuba Mountains Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North, General Abdelaziz Adam Alhilu. Hamdok and Alhilu signed a Joint Declaration of Principles concerning the fate of the Nuba Mountains — and, by extension, all of the marginalized areas of Sudan.
An Agreement that Needs to Be Upheld
The initiative was the most dramatic and radical effort so far. But since the time of my webinar and the last post about this on Juicy Ecumenism, it appears that the hardliners in the transitional government have altered the agreement. On first glance it still looks like a great improvement for the marginalized, but a real investigation shows that some deceptive changes have been made to the agreement signed by Hamdok and Alhilu. Let’s pray that the agreement of these two men of integrity and honor will be upheld by the rest of the world so that the Islamists in Khartoum cannot change it.