The Rev. Franklin Graham and other Christian leaders are urging supporters to pray about the current political crisis in the African nation of Sudan.
The head of the charity group Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association took to his official Facebook page last Friday to comment on the developments.
Graham spoke about twice meeting with newly deposed Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. The first of the meetings involved asking the dictator “to stop bombing our Samaritan's Purse hospital in the south during the war, which he did.”
“Tens of thousands of people died under his reign. Pray for the people of this war-plagued nation—and the churches there,” wrote Graham.
“It is my prayer that God will give them a new leader who is not associated with this former regime and who will lead Sudan to peace, safety, and prosperity for the people.”
Last Thursday, President al-Bashir, who had ruled Sudan as a dictator since 1989 and was charged with committing genocide in the Darfur region during the nation's decades-long civil war, was overthrown following months of protests.
Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo released a statement last Thursday celebrating the news of the removal of al-Bashir, saying that it should “serve as a wake-up call to leaders around the world who think they can get away with denying people their basic rights.”
However, Naidoo also expressed concern over the series of emergency measures announced by the military following al-Bashir’s removal from power.
“Sudan’s military authorities should ensure that emergency laws are not used to undermine people’s rights. Instead, they must now consign to history the assault on human rights that marked al-Bashir’s 30 years in power,” stated Naidoo.
“The transitional authorities must take all necessary measures to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power in Sudan. That means respecting the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and ultimately ending an era of bloodshed and oppression in the country.”
An Islamic government, the al-Bashir regime was known for its intolerance toward religious minorities, including Christians.
In a 2014 interview with The Christian Post, Sudanese lawyer Nahmia Shaloka, who was forced to flee the country due to persecution, explained that al-Bashir wanted Sudan to be "purely Islamic" and "governed by Sharia law."
Open Doors USA, a Christian persecution watchdog group, recently ranked Sudan No. 6 on its World Watch List of worst persecutors of Christians.
In response to the news that al-Bashir had been overthrown, Open Doors stated that the “Christian community in Sudan is waiting and watching along with the rest of the world.”
“While Bashir was no doubt a dictator likely guilty of terrible crimes, there is no assurance that his replacement will be any better,” said the group.
“Open Doors has heard from church leaders in Sudan who are right now asking you to pray with them and for Sudan. They ask us to … Pray the next leaders of Sudan will commit to allowing Christians and other religious minorities the ability to live out their faith freely.”