Rashid's Story

Rashid's life has been changed by your compassion.

Rashid's life has been changed by your compassion.

Over the years, we have met many men and women like Rashid. Most are paralytics due to polio. And all have a hard life. 

Rashid is from the Nuba mountains of Sudan, an area which has been subject to a massive humanitarian blockade by the Islamist government since 2011.

Rashid's life has radically changed because of the compassion of PPF's donors. God has used their love to literally raise him up.

Rashid received one of the many wheelchair tricycles PPF has delivered to the Nuba to help people like him.

When confronting a wicked regime fixated on persecuting people like Rashid, we're not waiting on a political solution before intervening. We're doing it right now. With your continued help, we'll keep doing it.

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Forgotten or Ignored: The Conflict in Sudan's Nuba Mountains

A hostile and devastating conflict between the Sudan government and rebels threatens to upend the country's progress and prospects for peace with the passing of each day.

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[Editor's Note: This informative article by Tom Rhodes highlights the plight of our Nuba brethren, as they struggle to survive in a world which increasingly ignores their cry for help. Articles like this remind us how important our relationship is to the Nuba people, and how privileged we all are to walk beside them in Active Compassion.]

By Tom Rhodes

Mohamed Adam stared at the burnt rubble in front of him, oblivious to the heat of the noonday sun as he surveyed all his hard work, his home and food storage preparations, destroyed in a matter of minutes. A melted cassette can be seen peeping out of the ash piles, a Congolese pop album that his son had listened to incessantly. The Antonov, one of Sudan's bumbling warplanes, bombed his house and food storage - forcing him and his family to survive on the goodwill of neighbors. Mohamed, a clerk for the rebel governor in the Nuba Mountains, was at his office that day in May, 2016 when the Antonov flew overhead. When the deafening bomb dropped, he panicked and rushed to his home. "Thank God my family was safe," he said.

Adam's wife, Husna Mohamed, and her two children managed to hide in a "foxhole" (a hole in the ground used to hide from shrapnel spread by government bombs) and survived. The lid covering the hole, however, caught on fire and slightly burnt the leg of their three-year-old child Munasid Mohamed. The young girl was rushed to the local hospital in Lewere for treatment, one of two facilities in the entire rebel-controlled area.

According to Johannes Plate, a medical field coordinator for the small but crucial hospital supported by the German Emergency Doctors organization, the Sudan government has repeatedly attempted to bomb the hospital. Like Adam's house and all homes in the Nuba Mountains, the hospital has foxholes around the building in case a warplane attempts to bomb it. "I hope you can see they are not just bombing military targets but civilians," Adam said. "In Syria, the international community responded very quickly, why not to us? Are we not human beings like them?"

Thousands of Nuba families live in caves.

Thousands of Nuba families live in caves.

The citizens of Nuba are currently experiencing a cessation of hostilities between the government and rebel army, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N), but Antonovs occasionally circle above without bombing.

The ongoing conflict in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State is largely ignored. When internal fighting broke out in South Sudan's capital, Juba, in December 2013, what little support the South Sudan government provided to the Nuba had waned further. Sudan placed South Sudan's President Salva Kiir under pressure to end support to the SPLM-N with the agreement that Khartoum would not support South Sudanese rebels targeting Kiir's government. While there is physical evidence of the Sudan government's support to these rebels in 2011 and 2012, there has not been any verifiable evidence of the same in recent years. This is partly due to U.S. pressure on Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to cease any meddling in South Sudanese affairs in return for the U.S. to lift nearly 20 years of economic sanctions. Along with oil interests, the U.S. has invested heavily in South Sudan.

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Political interests and objectives at play

With new political interests in Sudan, the West and the U.S. in particular have little interest in the Nuba Mountains. The U.S. may lift sanctions against Sudan in October this year* - largely in return for Khartoum's non-interference in South Sudan, and, more importantly, for alleged anti-terrorism support. The European Union (EU) is also keen to improve relations with Sudan after funding the Sudan government in late 2015 to curb transitory migration across the country's borders. "Both the UK and U.S. believe there are more important geopolitical interests at play in the region than the fate of Sudan's minorities," says Professor Samuel Totten. "Insofar as time is spent on Sudan in Washington or London, the U.S. and UK have calculated they have more to gain by appeasing Khartoum than by challenging it."

Besides a lack of regional and international political interest, there is also very little media interest due mainly to issues of access. Khartoum has banned reporting in conflict areas. Sudanese authorities detained and questioned editors of the private daily Al-Tayyar twice this month for having the audacity to interview the Nuba rebel leader Abdulaziz Al-Hilu. For local and foreign media to gain entry into the rebel-controlled areas of the Nuba Mountains or Blue Nile State is extremely taxing - the rainy season muddies roads to the point that access is intractable half of the year. And even when a reporter manages to reach the Nuba Mountains, selling the story is another challenge in and of itself.

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Unlike the heart-pounding bombing campaigns reported in Syria's six-year conflict, the war in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile is a war of attrition, whereby Sudan's government forces conduct intermittent attacks to ultimately starve the populace into submission. Sudan's forces continue to occupy two key agricultural areas and have seized farmland in over 20 locations in the Nuba Mountains. Pro-government militias raided and looted villages on at least 16 occasions in April and May this year. "It's done purposely," said Ali Abdelrahman, Director of the Nuba Mountains Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO), a community-based support group. "To set fire to people's homes, to drive away livestock - purposely to get them hungry. Once you get into that situation, you [either] die or join government-controlled territories whereby youth are recruited against their own people."

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There is still no humanitarian access to the Nuba Mountains at a time when nearly 10 percent of the population faces severe malnutrition rates, according to the South Kordofan Blue Nile Coordination Unit, an organization that monitors food insecurity in the two areas. But limited media coverage and political interest is keeping a seemingly inevitable food crisis largely unknown to the global and Sudanese audience alike. "Even if the world has forgotten us we will keep going," said Zachiah Issa Abdullah, a rebel soldier from Delami County in the Nuba Mountains. "When the ground fighting begins, I only think of those we have lost and, at the same time, I think of my children back home. Then I go forward, reminding myself who I am fighting for."

*Sanctions were lifted on Friday, October 6th

PPF's Emergency Well Repair Team Update

Well Repairs

Well Repairs

Since beginning the Emergency Well Repair Project in the Nuba mountains in 2013, PPF's repair teams have fixed 457 safe water wells.

As impressive as this is, many hundreds of wells remain broken and half a million Nuba have no access to safe water.

PPF has launched a new Peer-to-Peer platform called WarzoneWells.com to raise $50,000 to fund the repairs of at least 50 more wells.

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More than 80 percent of diseases in Africa are directly related to drinking dirty water.

Please visit WarzoneWells.com today to start using your community to serve the Nuba community!

Children drinking from hand-dug wells

Children drinking from hand-dug wells

A Nuba Hospital for the Nuba People

Dr. Ahmed Zachariah is a special individual.

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He could have chosen to practice medicine in the comfort of Sudan's capital city - or even abroad. Instead, his Christian faith led him to choose the path of hardship and service to his people by remaining behind in the war-torn Nuba mountains.

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Dr. Ahmed had no medicine. He had no equipment. He had no hospital. Now, he has all three - thanks to the generosity of PPF's ministry partners and his own resourcefulness.

PPF's medical program has equipped Dr. Ahmed with vehicles, medicine, equipment, and building supplies so that he can build a proper hospital for a region with precious few medical resources spread over a vast landscape.

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The hospital construction is progressing well, and patients are already receiving a surprising level of care for such a remote territory. Dr. Ahmed told us he's even receiving patients from South Sudan, who walk across the border because Ahmed's incomplete hospital is the best medical facility in the area.

We praise God for His grace and mercy in giving us the compassionate heart of Dr. Ahmed. And we praise God for your "active compassion" for our brothers and sisters in Sudan!

PPF in the Nuba: Six Years of Service

The conflict in Sudan’s Nuba mountains has surpassed its sixth year, with unfortunately no clear end in sight. During this time, the Islamist government in Khartoum has tried to terrorize and starve the Nuba out of their homeland. The Nuba is home to the largest Christian community in Sudan outside the capital city.

Most humanitarian organizations left the region very early into the conflict.

But that’s when PPF showed up.

On July 4th, 2011, our assessment team arrived in the Nuba on one of the last relief flights into Southern Kordofan State.

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In August, 2011, we testified before an emergency hearing on Capitol Hill to warn Congress of the danger of a “repeat of Darfur” taking place.

Our team then set about the process of reaching out in active compassion to the Nuba community left behind, and those seeking refuge in neighboring South Sudan.

The generosity of ministry partners helped us start several outreaches, including deliveries of important relief and shelter supplies and medicines. Our Discipleship and Evangelism program has sponsored Pastoral Conferences, as well as the distribution of tens of thousands of Bibles, audio Bibles, and other discipleship materials to the growing Nuba church. And our Safe Water Program began repairing broken well pumps spread throughout the Nuba region, providing clean water for hundreds of thousands of residents.

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Although the war has dragged on, creating famine conditions, the situation in the Nuba is much better than it would be had PPF not intervened. The head of the Nuba Medical Consortium, Tutu Turkash, stated that he didn't want to think about what it would be like if PPF was not working in the Nuba. “Having them with us here, where few others will come, it’s a game changer,” said Turkash.

The Church Militant

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The Nuba church is growing amidst the conflict. With this growth, we can expect an increase in persecution from the Islamist government (II Timothy 3:12).

It is a very unfortunate reality that US government policy towards Sudan has changed since the days when economic sanctions were first enacted and strengthened by Presidents Clinton and Bush, respectively.

Regardless of whether one believes sanctions are an effective way to change policy in Sudan, the truth is that President Obama put the US on a definite track to “normalize” relations with one of the most brutal terrorist regimes in the world. And, as of this writing, President Trump’s administration seems to believe the Obama track is the right course to take.

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But the Nuba church knows that no matter which way the winds of politics shift, its mission will not change— for the church serves a Government that NEVER changes. This Government has a compassionate King, Whose reign will go on, and vanquish all competing parties with mercy, justice and love.

The church in America serves the same King, and with the continued support of its members towards our brothers and sisters in the Nuba, PPF will continue its mission of “active compassion” for the persecuted.

Finding the Flock Again: Pastors' Conferences in a War Zone

By Tim Rice

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“How can you guide your flock when you, as the shepherd, are also being persecuted?” Pastor Al Kam Jaranabi asks while sitting under an acacia tree with other church leaders in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Pastor Jaranabi raises a valid point: maintaining faith during wartime is no easy challenge, especially when you are the main target.

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Since 2011, the Sudan government has sought to defeat rebel fighters in the Nuba Mountains who, after years of neglect from the central government, demanded greater autonomy in their remote border region. The rebel movement has fought the government to a cyclical standstill with no clear winners since the conflict started.

Unable to defeat guerilla fighters, the government in Khartoum targets civilians in a bid to drive the population out, or into submission. “They target us purposefully,” said Pastor Emmanuel Ofendi, “whether its your farmland, your school –even your church, they try to push people into the government-controlled areas.”

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The Sudan government’s opposition to the Church is no secret. Sudan authorities have imprisoned pastors and evangelists, refused to issue building permits for new churches, and even bulldozed several churches in broad daylight.

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It is within this environment that pastors in the Nuba Mountains try to spread the gospel. Pastor Ismael Suleiman remembers how challenging it was to even become a pastor. Suleiman had to walk for two days to reach a theological college in the rebel-controlled capital, Kauda, fraught with dangers along the way.

“While we were walking to Kauda we got ambushed by a government militia,” Suleiman recalled. “Imagine, we were just trying to go to our graduation ceremony.” The gunmen killed two of Suleiman’s colleagues while he hid in tall grass. “We were just hiding in the grass where everyone could see us, but God somehow covered us, and they walked past without seeing us.” The incident helped strengthen Suleiman’s faith and confidence that the Lord would protect him through all the challenges of war.

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With warplanes circling above and cut communication lines, finding time and means to preach is difficult. The year 2015 was especially bad, Pastor Jaranabi remembers. In 2015, over 1,000 bombs, including cluster bombs, were dropped on civilian targets in the Nuba Mountains, according to Nuba Reports, a media house that monitors these attacks. The Sudan government has dropped over 4,000 bombs on civilians in Nuba since the conflict began. “It reached a point where believers and pastors alike were distracted by the bombings, we were too busy running for shelter, searching for what little food may be available,” Jaranabi admits.

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This is the crux of the problem: the war has displaced communities to the point where believers are scattered with no easy means of communication to re-engage with the faithful. “We pray as individuals all the time, the war encourages that,” Jaranabi said --with many fellow pastors chuckling in agreement. “But we never prayed together as Church leaders, or even knew of each others’ welfare until now.” Pastor Jaranabi made these comments while attending a pastor’s conference in Ursalia at the Ursalia Missionary Church last November. It was the first time for him to reconnect with other pastors from within his home county, he said. One of many successful conferences, over 100 attendees participated in the event, bringing together pastors from several counties and denominations.

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Since 2015, Persecution Project Foundation (PPF) has organized many pastor’s conferences, inviting church leaders from all over the Nuba Mountains to congregate, reflect, share experiences and organize.

PPF has managed to get some church leaders together for the first time, and now the church community is requesting more and more conferences to take place.

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Over 800 participants attended a conference in Kurchi, Um Dorein County --the largest yet, with evangelists, pastors and parishioners in attendance, according to PPF’s Field Coordinator Kuti Rajab. “We have to remember the church body scattered in the war,” Rajab said. “Some pastors were losing hope since they had no means of coming together, no means of transport –so we thought of the conference as a means to bring them together.”

“It encourages all of us as pastors who come together, to greet one another, to share what the Lord is doing in our areas, and to see that people from outside Nuba are also standing with us,” said Pastor Yusuf Alferic, who walked nearly two days to attend the event.  “This war cuts you off from the outside world – even those around you. By attending these events –it gives you the strength to continue spreading the gospel. It gives you hope.”

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Sitting next to Pastor Alferic, Pastor Abdurahman Watkaju agrees. The conferences strengthen and improve their understanding of their faith. “Through this conference, it gives us unity and changes the idea that there are differences within denominations but [instead] we are actually one,” Watkaju said. Before unhealthy competition existed between roughly five Christian denominations in Nuba, Watkaju explained. “But now, we try to respect all of the denominations and focus more, as we should, on God.”

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Unlike in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, religious tolerance thrives in Nuba culture, where it is not uncommon to see Muslim and Christians within one family. “The government tries to target us using religion but this cannot happen here, we respect one another,” Pastor Ofendi said.

At the end of the Ursalia conference, a number of plans were formed during the meetings – including a way to spread the gospel to the camps of internally-displaced persons (IDPs). The pastors have voluntarily agreed to work in pairs and reach out to several areas of displacement to offer prayer and worship where access to a church remains limited, Ofendi added. One activity that seems to occur at every conference PPF helps facilitate: a corporate prayer for the war to end. “I don’t want this war, none of us do, and we always pray for it to end,” said Pastor Suleiman.

"Still Not Free" - The Fate of Sudanese Christians, Part II

[Editor's Note: This is part II of an important story published by NubaReports.org on the continuing crisis in Sudan regarding the persecution of that country's growing Christian population. Despite political posturing of Sudan's Islamist government, trying to redefine itself as a "moderate" regime, the sad reality on the ground is very much the same as it ever was. After a lot of rhetoric and promises, Sudanese Christians are still not free.]by Tom Rhodes, nubareports.org

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Just days before the president pardoned Abdelrahim and Abdelmoula, Khartoum state authorities destroyed another church 19 kilometers outside the capital in Soba al-Radi. Authorities under the Ministry of Planning and Development bulldozed the church on a Sunday, May 7, as Christians prepared to worship.

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The government said in a statement the church was built on land allocated for residential use. The church is among 25 other churches the state has marked for demolition in a June 2016 letter, claiming they were all built on land zoned for other purposes.

But according to Pastor Elias Abdelrahim, who manages the Soba al-Radi Church, the building was first built on empty land in 1986 and they have been trying to attain legal documentation ever since.

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(Muhanad) Nur, who also represents the now demolished church, said the government had provided land registration certificates for several mosques in the area but not the church – despite its long tenure. Nur had filed a 15-day abstention with the court of appeal to block the church’s demolition but the government ignored the court order.

“Now we gather at the church’s yard to pray, because we fear the remains of the building may fall on our heads.”

–Pastor Elias Abdelrahim, Head of Soba Al-Radi Church

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Three congregations used to attend Soba Al-Radi Church since it was the only church in the area following the demolition of 12 other church buildings over the past six years, news reports said. Sometimes over 200 people would pray there, Abdelrahim said.

“Now we gather at the church’s yard to pray, because we fear the remains of the building may fall on our heads,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Ervin Massinga visited the demolition site. “This is a very sad and regrettable situation,” Massinga said in a short video. “Religious freedom and rule of law go hand-in-hand. Yes, rule of law is important, but without religious freedom, it is hollow.”

The parliamentary chairman of Sudan’s Legislation and Justice Committee, Ahmed El Tijani, defended the demolition in a statement, claiming the move was purely for land ownership reasons and not based on religious discrimination.

A month earlier, a group raided the Evangelical School of Sudan to quell a protest and killed church elder Yunan Abdullah. The April raid represented another move by Sudanese authorities to grab church land for investment, the Sudanese human rights Sudan Democracy First Group reported.

An armed group supported by Sudan’s ministry of guidance and endowments attacked civilians at the Evangelical School, Christians who had staged a protest against the attempted seizure of the building, local sources told Nuba Reports. Abdullah had rushed over to the Evangelical School from the neighboring Bahri Evangelical Church to help defend the protesters against the armed group. One of the members of this group stabbed Abdullah, who died of his injuries in a nearby hospital. Abdullah is survived by his wife and two children.

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Why target Christians now?

This state persecution of Christians appears at loggerheads with the October conclusions of the National Dialogue, a state-led peace initiative ostensibly designed to end Sudan’s internal conflicts.

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The conference attendants, including government and some opposition parties, concluded the event by issuing a National Document that makes at least four references to religious diversity, the freedom of worship and to end religious discrimination in Sudan.

Sudanese authorities continue to target Christians, however, seemingly apathetic to these events.

“You can’t imagine how this government works sometimes,” Nur said. “Human rights defenders, Christians, among others, are just locked up without any consideration of the consequences.” One explanation for this may be that government institutions are not in control – instead, divergent units within the security apparatus call the shots.

“It is not the minister of foreign affairs or minister of justice. It’s really the secret service in control”

Petr Jasek, Christian Aid Worker

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“The major problem is the NISS (National Intelligence and Security Service) is ruling the country,” said Petr Jasek, a Christian Aid Worker who was imprisoned by the Sudan government for more than a year. “It is not the minister of foreign affairs or minister of justice. It’s really the secret service in control.”

Sudan’s foreign ministry made several promises to the Czech government to release Jasek, for instance, which were unfulfilled.

“But I was kept hostage by one of these generals in the security wing,” Jasek said. “He wanted to show how important he was and refused to comply.”

The justice ministry also often works at the behest of NISS and controls the courts, he added. Nur agrees.

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“It’s true, it’s not a secret,” he said. “NISS control everything and is accountable to very few.”

In the midst of writing this article, authorities demolished another church in an area called Kalagala, south Khartoum, Abdelrahim told Nuba Reports. In this environment, Abdelrahim still fears conditions for Christians will deteriorate further in the years ahead. Security forces continue to monitor his movements upon his release.

“It’s a difficult time for us," he said. “Even with our release from prison last week, we are still not free.”

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More Clean Water for the Persecuted!

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PPF’s Safe Water Program set a goal in 2017 to repair 77 broken well pumps in some of the most remote and difficult to access places of Sudan’s Nuba mountains— an area which has been under a government-enforced humanitarian blockade since 2011.

Our ministry partners poured into this program, and we were able to position enough fuel and spare parts in the Nuba to achieve our goal.

At press time, our Emergency Borehole Repair Team had completed their 74th repair for the year! We have nearly reached our goal— thanks to God working through your generosity!

Please pray for the continued safety and success of our team, and that many Nuba people will be introduced to the “Water of Life” through our Safe Water Program.

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"Still Not Free" - The Fate of Sudanese Christians, Part 1

[Editor’s Note: NubaReports.org recently published a very important story on the continuing crisis in Sudan regarding the persecution of that country's growing Christian population. Despite positive political posturing of Sudan’s Islamist government, trying to redefine itself as a “moderate” regime, the sad reality on the ground away from the spotlight is very much the same as it ever was. After a lot of rhetoric and promises, Sudanese Christians are still not free.]  

From nubareports.org

It was unexpected but much welcomed news. On May 11, Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir pardoned Pastor Hassan Abdulrahim from the Nuba Mountains, along with a Darfur activist, Abdulmoneim Abdelmoula.

After spending 17 months in several prisons, the two were released early from a 12-year sentence facing charges of undermining the constitution, espionage and spreading false information, their defense lawyer Muhanad Nur told Nuba Reports.

Abdulrahim came out of Kober prison, a facility in the capital of Khartoum used to lock up political opponents and terrorists alike. “It’s hard to remain in prison all that time, especially when we think about our families,” Abdulrahim told Nuba Reports. “But it was also a good experience for us – to help build up the church in prison and encourage parishioners.”

The targeting of churches and Christians ratcheted up after South Sudan gained independence in 2011. Once the predominantly Christian South Sudanese populace seceded, those Christians remaining within the country had less institutional support and protection against state authorities. In April 2013, the Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Two years later, government officials stiffened penalties for apostasy and blasphemy.

“Christianity is not welcome in Sudan,” said Nur who routinely defends Christian cases in court, including the Sudan apostasy hearings against Meriam Yahia, now in the United States. “It seems as if every week I am hearing about another case of Christians being persecuted here.”

In Nur’s latest case, the accused’s sentences were largely based on their association with a Christian aid worker from the Czech Republic, Petr Jasek. Authorities arrested Jasek around the same time as Abdulrahim and Abdelmoula along with another Nuba pastor, Kuwa Shamal, who was released in late 2016 for lack of evidence.

In October 2016, state prosecutors presented video footage and photographs taken from Jasek’s laptop as evidence. The prosecutor’s case included footage Jasek took interviewing Christians in the Nuba Mountains. The state evidence also included evidence of the four suspects assisting a student and Christian convert who suffered skin burns from a teargas bomb during a 2013 university protest.

“They were monitoring me,” Jasek told Nuba Reports upon his release. “They [Sudan’s security agents] showed photos of all the meetings I had with church members. There were even night photos –they were monitoring every step.”

But the heavy state surveillance hardly produced any criminal offense.

"Despite being locked up for over a year, the whole legal process was actually six months," Jasek said. "It took them [state prosecutors] about three months to raise their concerns and then our lawyers were able to destroy their accusations in three hours."

Despite a weak case against Jasek, Sudan only released him in February after a visit to Khartoum by the Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek.

All four faced considerable duress, shifting to several different prison facilities during their incarceration.

"I was in five different prisons in total," Jasek said. "Usually the transfer meant that conditions were going to be even worse."

At one state, Jasek was placed in a cell with Islamic State fighters who would beat and torture him. One of the fighters from Libya boasted that he had beheaded 20 Coptic Christians in Libya and carried a fishing line that "could kill anyone in seconds," Jasek said during a press conference after his release....

Christians continue to worship even though Christianity is not welcome in Sudan.