UPDATE JULY 8, 2015: As I reported yesterday (below), the Sudanese judge has ruled there is enough evidence to charge the pastors, and two of those charges carry the death penalty. The ACLJ has “launched a massive letter-writing campaign to Sudan’s new Minister of Justice demanding Sudan follow international law, ensure that these persecuted pastors can properly prepare a defense, and that the case be dismissed for a lack of evidence. The more letters we send to him, the higher the international pressure. The higher the international pressure, the more likely Pastors Michael and Peter will find justice and freedom. It’s worked before and it can work again.” (http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/aclj-launches-letter-writing-campaign-to-save-pastors-in-sudan) You can write a letter to Sudan’s Minister of Justice (a letter has already been written, you simply sign your name) at http://beheardproject.com/sudan#write. You can add your name to the petition at http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign.
UPDATE JULY 7, 2015: The judge has ruled that there is sufficient evidence to charge the pastors with the offenses, unfortunately. The next step is for the defense to make its case on Tuesday, July 14. The defense will have to counter the “evidence” against the pastors by providing evidence of their innocence. After the defense has presented its case, the Sudanese court will look at all the evidence, and either drop the charges or convict the pastors. After the pastors’ court hearing, “the attorney requested access with his clients—a right that is guaranteed both under Sudanese law and international law—but the judge only had authority to grant him visitation at the court.” (ACLJ) The pastors’ attorney was only given 10-15 minutes at the court to prepare his defense. The attorney has also been denied access to the pastors in prison, making it very difficult to work with them on their defense. This is a violation of Sudan’s constitution, so the attorney will be appealing this matter to the prison authorities on Sunday, July 12. You can read a full update here: http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/sudanese-judge-finds-sufficient-evidence-convict-christian-pastors-defense-next-trial As always, please continue to pray and add your names to the petition to free these two innocent pastors: http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign.
UPDATE JUNE 30, 2015: According to the ACLJ, the prosecution rested its case this last Thursday, June 25. While the prosecution did call its last witness, this witness (like the others) didn’t offer any new evidence against the pastors. The pastors were allowed to visit with their wives at the court. While both pastors are no longer shackled or in solitary confinement, they are still separated. On July 2nd, both pastors will take the stand so that the judge can ask them about the allegations. According to the ACLJ, “Under Sudanese law, if the judge concludes there is a lack of evidence on all charges, he must dismiss the complaint and discharge the pastors from custody. If, however, the judge finds sufficient evidence on any or all of the charges levied against them, the defense will put on its case to overcome the presumption of guilt present from the prosecution’s evidence.” Please continue to pray and add your names to the petition to free these two innocent pastors: http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign
UPDATE JUNE 18, 2015: The prosecution has been unable to present witnesses who could help bring any additional evidence against the pastors, so that’s good news. The bad news is the trial has been postponed (again) to the 25th of June, to give the prosecution (the government) time to present the remaining two witnesses (three remaining witnesses were promised, but only one presented.) While the trial continues, the pastors are in solitary confinement, shackled at the ankles. Their families and even their attorney aren’t allowed to visit them. Please pray for strength and peace for the pastors, their families, and the attorney. Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those who are being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. (NLT)
UPDATE June 5, 2015: Pastors Yat and Peter have been moved to a high security prison, and their trial has been postponed to the 15th of June (so that Sudan’s Islamist National Intelligence and Security Service has more time to produce “evidence”.) This isn’t good news, but God can do anything. Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (NLT) Please continue to pray for these pastors, their families, and their congregations, and also for those who are bringing the trumped-up charges against them. The more people who sign the petition, the greater the international outcry: http://beheardproject.com/sudan#sign
May 28, 2015: Just heard about these two imprisoned pastors. According to aclj.org:
Two Christian pastors from South Sudan who traveled north to Sudan and were arrested on charges of spying could face the death penalty when their trial begins next week, according to their attorneys. Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith, both Presbyterian pastors from the breakaway Christian nation of South Sudan, are being held by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services on charges of undermining the constitution and espionage. Their supporters say their arrest and pending trial is just the latest effort by the militant Islamist government in Khartoum to stamp out Christianity. . . . The pair also was charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs,” which call for imprisonment. The trial was set to begin Tuesday, but was postponed to May 31.
Even worse, Sudan’s “NISS officials have demanded $12,000 from the Church for the release of the pastors . . . .” This is nothing more than cold-blooded extortion to profit from the threat of execution of these Christians pastors. In just a few days they will face a jihadist sham trial on trump-up charges by an Islamist government focused on persecuting Christians. Sudan is trying to make a statement. This is just the latest example of the Sudanese Islamist government’s targeted persecution of Christians. This is not the first time the Sudanese judicial system has been used as a weapon to exterminate Christians. Last year, Sudan sentenced Christian mom Meriam Ibrahim to hang for her Christian faith. After weeks of tireless advocacy by the ACLJ and other global advocates for persecuted Christians, she was set free. Sudan will listen to international pressure. Because hundreds of thousands of people from all across the world spoke out, demanding her freedom, Meriam Ibrahim is now safe and free with her family in America. Yet the persecution continues. As Lisa Daftari reports, “Marginalization of Christians has dramatically increased since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.” Her report also explains, Sudan’s NISS intelligence forces, led by hard-line Islamists, persecute the country’s Christians and use Shariah law to extort Christians and churches. The 2015 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommends that Sudan continue to be categorized as a “Country of Particular Concern” by the State Department, as it has been since 1999, for its ongoing and systemic human rights abuses against Christians. At the ACLJ, we are again mobilizing our international resources, demanding that Sudan release these innocent pastors You have spoken out before and saved lives. We need you to join us again. Time is running out for Pastors Ruot and Reith. Be heard now before it’s too late. Sign the petition at BeHeardProject.com.
I would add that you please pray for these imprisoned pastors and their families in this obviously difficult and scary time. Pray for release, but most importantly pray that they would not waiver in their faith. God released Meriam Ibrahim; He can release these pastors if it’s His will.