by Brad Phillips
On February 25, 2017, just one day before missionary Petr Jasek was released from prison in Sudan, I delivered a brief address to a room of American public policy people. Some were activists. Others were elected officials. Many were the donors supporting both.
This was an audience I don’t normally address. Persecution Project Foundation is not a public policy organization. We’re a ministry to the persecuted church. Politics may affect what we do, but our focus is mainly to love and serve our persecuted brothers in the areas of physical and spiritual needs.
But on February 25th, what I believe I told that room full of policy-motivated people is very much in keeping with PPF’s mission of “active compassion for the persecuted.”
The summation of my remarks was this: the indigenous persecuted church in places like Sudan, constitutes a vital national security interest for America.
Traditionally, America’s international interests consist of important trade and defense partnerships. But Sudan doesn’t fall under any of these categories. Sudan has some oil, but America has no stake in it. Sudan has valuable minerals, but America has not stake in them either. And Sudan’s military is, at best, a force of destabilization in the region, not a strong partner in the “War on Terror.”
Contrast this with the Sudan church.
What we have seen in, for example, the war-torn Nuba mountains of Sudan, is that the indigenous church forms a bulwark against the forces of Islamic extremism, which desires to wipe out the Nuba community (both Christian and Muslim).
While the Sudan National Intelligence and Security Service terrorizes the country’s population by leading the infamous Janjaweed (“Devils on Horseback”) militias in places like Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and the Blue Nile, the Sudan church is confronting these forces of extremism everyday— but not with bombs and bullets.
The weapon of the persecuted church is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is the ministry of mercy the persecuted church engages in which changes hearts and minds, and rolls back the advance of extremism.
For example, at one pastor’s conference in the Nuba mountains last December, one day of community evangelism resulted in the conversion of 70 Muslim families. For those families still part of the Muslim community, their relations with the local church are stronger than ever. In fact, the local church reaches out through compassion and service to bridge together differing faith communities.
This bridge breaks down traditional fears and prejudices. It’s hard to hate someone who shares their meager food stores with you in a time of famine. It’s hard to fear someone who gives you medication to save your child from malaria.
One Muslim convert from the December conference came to the church and proclaimed, “Everything I’ve ever been told about Christians is a lie.”
It is for this reason, and many others, that the US Government needs to view the indigenous church as a strong partner in the War against Radical Islam in countries which have traditionally acted as factories for extremism. The Church in Sudan is a vital American security interest.
It is my prayer that the US government will see the imprisonment of Pastor Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor and Abdulmonem Abdumawla (who as of this writing are still behind bars in Khartoum) as worthy of diplomatic intervention.
But regardless of what public policy makers do, you and I can intervene right now through prayer and solidarity with our persecuted brothers.
Petr Jasek said over and over again throughout his own 445 day imprisonment, “God holds the keys to my cell.” Let us pray for His will to be done and for Him to release all the captives, not only spiritually, but physically as well.