Journey continues as Sudanese refugees are baptized

By Katie Knight, The Lincoln Journal Star (Nebraska).

baptism_celebration_bannerThe Rev. Dr. Andrew McDonald believes “Who am I?” is the greatest question any human being has to answer. To him, baptism is the defining moments for those of faith when it comes to their Christian identity.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church where McDonald pastors, he’s been working with a group of nearly 55 men, women and children helping them find their identities both as South Sudanese refugees living in America and as Christians.

It all began about a year ago when Moses Bilew, one of the refugees, wound up in Lincoln. He had learned the tenets of the Presbyterian faith from missionaries back in Africa, and knew he wanted to further pursue that journey in the United States alongside his family.

“When I came to U.S., no church the same as Westminster, the people,” Bilew said in halting English. “The pastor, the whole congregation is loving us well. They love too much. Very, very, very good people. I’m very happy.”

Since last spring, McDonald watched the Sudanese community grow, both in Lincoln as a whole and at Westminster. Despite the language barrier, he has been able to connect with families and hear their stories.

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South Sudanese pastors facing death penalty freed

By Carey Lodge, Christian Today.

sudan pastors

BREAKING: Sudanese pastors Rev Yat Michael and Rev Peter Reith have been freed.

Two South Sudanese pastors facing trial for espionage in Sudan have been freed.

Rev Yat Michael and Rev Peter Reith (also named as David Yein Reith in some reports) were being held on six charges including espionage, “offending Islamic beliefs”, promoting hatred amongst sects and undermining the constitutional system. If found guilty, they could have faced the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which has been supporting the pastors, today confirmed their release.

Michael was arrested on December 14, 2014, and Reith in January of this year. They were both detained without charges, and without access to a lawyer or their families, until March 1. Ahead of their hearings, they were consistently denied access to their legal team, despite guarantees under Sudanese law.

During the final hearing in Khartoum, the defence team presented two witnesses. Ex-army general and 2010 presidential candidate Abdul Aziz Khalid testified that the charges of security and espionage were without basis, and told the court that evidence presented by the prosecution was available to the public. Both Michael and Reith maintained their innocence.



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Sudanese court upholds charges against two South Sudanese pastors

Report from Open Doors.

Sudanese-PastorsAfter a full day of trial on Wednesday, July 1, a Sudanese judge found enough evidence to uphold charges against South Sudanese pastors, Yat Michael and Peter Yen, accused of seven crimes, two of which carry the death penalty.

 The ruling is not a conviction, but means the defense must present evidence of the men’s innocence. The defense will have that opportunity on July 14. This leaves their lawyer, Muhaned Mustafa, with less than two weeks to prepare their case. And as things currently stand, he will have only 10 to 15 minutes prior to this hearing to prepare his clients.

 At the end of those proceedings, the court will have the final opportunity to review all the evidence presented and drop the charges or convict the pastors.

 During last Wednesday’s hearing the judge questioned both men about documents found on their computer after their arrests, which included internal church reports, maps that show the population and topography of Khartoum, Christian literature, and a study guide on the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

 “All of these materials, with the exception of the internal church report and the study guide on NISS, are publicly accessible materials,” explains the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ).

 The pastors acknowledged having the internal church report, though both said they had never seen the study guide on NISS until it was presented in court. They had no knowledge of how it got on the computer.

 Besides these documents, the only evidence brought by the prosecution against the Christian pastors was a sermon Pastor Michael gave on the Christian doctrines of their denomination.


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Save Sudan pastors

By Faith McDonnell, Juicy Ecumenism.

Save-Sudan-Pastors_Facebook-Cover_2 (640x237)Another week, another hearing for the Reverends Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yen Reith in Khartoum, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Sudan.

If you are a regular reader of Juicy Ecumenism, you will know that I encouraged you to watch this space to see what you can do to help Pastor Michael and Pastor Peter. I am pleased to announce the creation of a new website, Save Sudan Pastors, by our friends of Mute No More. As with our efforts for Meriam Ibrahim last summer, we hope that our Save Sudan Pastors advocacy will attract dozens of organizations to show their solidarity and co-sponsor the effort with Mute No More and IRD.

The hearing last Thursday, June 25, proved to be no more effective than any of the numerous hearings before it for establishing the guilt of the pastors for the “crimes” with which they have been charged. As the June 25 hearing about which I wrote here, the prosecution had only one more witness, and that witness offered no new evidence. You can read more about the pastors here and here. Their only “crime” was encouraging the churches in Sudan to be strong and endure the government’s persecution.

Now there will be another hearing at which the pastors have an opportunity to speak in their defense and be questioned by the judge. Please pray for Pastors Michael and Peter, their courageous attorney, and the judge. We are particularly asking that God give wisdom and clarity to the judge, that he would judge justly and in accordance to truth.

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Save Sudan Pastors web site

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Act now for Presbyterian pastors imprisoned in Sudan

Action Alert from the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness (PCUSA).
Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church were arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence Service (NISS) in Khartoum, Sudan on 21 December 2014 and 11 January 2015 respectively. They were charged on 1 March in Khartoum with eight offences under the 1991 Penal Code. They are charged with committing joint acts in execution of criminal conspiracy; undermining the constitutional system; waging war against the state; espionage against the country; disclosure and obtaining information and official documents; promoting hatred amongst or against sects; disturbance of the public peace;, and insulting religious creeds. The offences of waging war against the state and of undermining the constitutional system carry the death penalty, while the other six offences carry flogging sentences. It is believed that the two pastors were arrested and charged due to their religious convictions. The two pastors were held incommunicado by the NISS until 2 March, when they were transferred to Kober prison and permitted their first family visits.

Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen went on a hunger strike for two days on 28 and 29 March objecting to their continued detention without trial and to their lack of access to lawyers. They are both now being represented pro-bono by a team of lawyers. They have been to court twice, on 19 May and 31 May. Their next court appearance is on 15 June.

Amnesty International considers Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen as prisoners of conscience, arrested, detained and charged solely because of their peaceful expression of their religious convictions.

Please write the President, the Secretary of State, and your members of Congress and urge them to:

Call on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen and drop all charges against them;

Ensure that pending their unconditional release, Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

You can also write to the following Sudanese officials and ask them for the release and proper treatment of Reverend Michael and Reverend Yen.  The letters need to be received before July 21.

The President
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 282
Khartoum, Sudan
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice
Awad Al Hassan Alnour
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 302
Al Nil Avenue
Khartoum, Sudan
Email: moj@moj.gov.sd
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Minister of Interior
Ismat Abdul-Rahman Zain Al-Abdin
Ministry of Interior
PO Box 873
Khartoum, Sudan

**Alert courtesy of Amenesty International

Visit the web site.

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Two Sudanese pastors facing possible execution for ‘offending Islam;’ Pastor says God chose him to suffer

By Vincent Funaro , Christian Post.


Sudanese pastors Yat Michael and David Yein (Photo: Screengrab/ CBN)

Two South Sudanese pastors are facing possible execution after being imprisoned for two months by authorities who arrested them for various alleged offenses, including “offending Islamic beliefs” and “inciting organized groups.”

Pastors Yat Michael and David Yein are being held in a jail in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where a number of Catholic and Protestant churches have been destroyed recently and told CBN via telephone that they are prepared for whatever punishment lies ahead for preaching the Gospel in the region.

Michael says he hasn’t spoken with his family for two months and he was accused of spying when he was arrested in January.

“When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here. I say, ‘I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God,” Michael said to CBN.

“They say, ‘No, you don’t need to preach the Word of God with a hidden agenda.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t have any hidden agenda.’ They accused me [of being] a spy here.”

Yein said he’s not afraid to die and he believes God chose him to suffer. He asked that Christians pray that their imprisonment be used for God’s glory and to bring peace between the pastors and those that are holding them prisoner.

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Two Christian pastors face death penalty in Sudan

By Isaiah Narcisco, The Gospel Herald.

sudanAttorneys representing two Christian pastors in Sudan who were arrested on charges of spying have stated that they could face the death penalty once their trial begins next week.

According to a report by Lisa Daftari on Fox News, Presbyterian pastors Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith, both of South Sudan, are being held on charges of undermining the constitution and espionage; they are currently in the custody of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services. Their supporters argued that the Islamist government in Khartoum is making an example of the pastors as a way to stamp out Christianity.

“I’m fearful that they will execute these pastors for practicing their faith,” David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, said.

Daftari reported that the trial has been postponed to May 31. The pastors were also charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs”; both charges would lead to imprisonment if convicted.

“Ruot, who is from Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, was arrested Dec. 21 after he delivered a Sunday sermon in Omdurman, a Sudanese city across the Nile from Khartoum,” Daftari wrote. “Reith, who, like Ruot, is from the Presbyterian Evangelical Church, was arrested Jan. 11 when he was called in by security services and taken into custody.”


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PCUSA issues call to prayer for safety and release of two pastors detained in Sudan

Presbyterian World Mission.

sudanChurch partners in Sudan and South Sudan have asked for prayers for the safe release of two pastors, Rev. Michael Yat and Rev. Peter Yen Reith, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, who have been detained without charge in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, since December 2014 and January 2015, respectively. The next court hearing is Tuesday, May 19. Please read the following communication received from Middle East Concern and join in prayer for these pastors.

“Christians in Sudan request our prayers for two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum.

“On 14th December Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained Pastor Michael Yat (49) in Khartoum at the end of a church service. The church, Bahri Evangelical Church, has been repeatedly harassed by the authorities in recent months. Pastor Yat is a minister in the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC).

“On 11th January the NISS detained a second pastor from the SSPEC, Pastor Peter Yen Reith (36). He was detained after attending a prayer meeting in Khartoum.



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Sudanese authorities detain two clergymen and harrass church official

From Christian Solidarity Worldwidesudan 2

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has confirmed that South Sudanese clergymen Rev Yat Michael and Rev Peter Yein Reith are currently detained in Khartoum by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). NISS officials are also orchestrating a campaign of harassment against the chairman of the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SEPC) council responsible for church buildings and land, Mr Rafat Samir Mussad Obid.

According to local sources, NISS agents arrested Rev Yat Michael on 21 December 2014, after he addressed the congregation at Khartoum Bhari Evangelical Church, a church belonging to the SEPC denomination which was partially demolished by the authorities on 2 December 2014. NISS officers said they were offended by his reference to government confiscation of church property in his sermon.

su-lgflagRev Michael was later charged with instigating Sudanese citizens against their government. Local sources also report that Rev Peter Yein Reith was arrested on 11 January 2015 shortly after arriving in Khartoum from South Sudan. The two clergymen have been held incommunicado since their arrest.

As chairman of the SEPC council responsible for buildings and land, Mr Obid has challenged government attempts to sell land belonging to the Church.

On 8 December, lawyers representing the SEPC and 12 tenants in one of the church’s properties in Omdurman, Khartoum State, lodged a constitutional appeal following a dispute over ownership of the property, which resulted in the Ministry of Justice issuing the tenants with a one-week eviction notice. The NISS campaign of harassment began as a result of his work as chair of the council.

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Prayer alert: Sudan arrests another South Sudanese pastor

By Sudan correspondent, Morning Star News


The Rev. David Yein Reith

The second pastor of South Sudanese descent in less than three weeks has been arrested without charges in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, sources said.

Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) arrested the Rev. David Yein Reith of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church on Jan. 9 as he returned to his home at the Gerif West Bible School in Khartoum from a prayer meeting, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Reith received a phone call earlier that day from someone threatening to “arrest” his wife and 1-year-old son if he failed to go to his home immediately.

“We will arrest your entire family should you fail to come home as soon as possible,” the caller told the pastor, according to the source.

The pastor’s wife has repeatedly asked NISS officials under what charge he is being held without an answer, she said.

“We are still interrogating him; he is in custody,” one NISS official told her.

Though of South Sudanese descent, Reith has always lived in Khartoum. On Dec. 28 NISS officials arrested a visiting South Sudanese pastor from Juba, the Rev. Yat Michael, after Sunday worship at Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church on Dec. 21. He is still in custody.

Authorities have repeatedly refused to allow Pastor Michael’s family to visit him since his arrest, sources said.


Related article: PCUSA advocating for the safety and release of two pastors detained in Sudan

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