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On July 9, Sudan and South Sudan officially became separate nations -- a separation in accordance with a referendum held in January (click here for more information). The secession comes after a long history of violence and conflict, including two civil wars between the largely Islamic north and the Christian and animist majority in the south. Christians, in particular, have endured severe opposition.

Although many people, from Sudanese Christians to international leaders, have expressed hope over the South's independence, it is clear that the people on both sides of the new border continue to be at risk of violence and religious freedom violations. In the months leading up to the secession, clashes erupted in several areas. Government agents and Islamic militants looted churches and killed Christians in regions of South Kordofan state. There remain concerns that churches in the Sudan may face further restrictions on their freedom of worship if the government implements a strict form of Shariah, or Islamic, law. With Christians continuing to flee to South Sudan, it is also feared that remaining believers in the north could be especially vulnerable to violence, pressure, and baseless accusations of defaming Islam.

Pray that Sudanese Christians will be examples of justice, peace and love as their nation navigates through this chapter of transition. Pray that the government of Sudan will listen to the concerns of the international community and recognize the importance of religious freedom. Pray that Christians in both Sudan and South Sudan will continue to entrust themselves to Christ knowing Jesus is the ruler over the kings of the earth (2 Timothy 1:7-12, Revelation 1:5).

For more on the trials facing Sudanese believers, go to the Sudan Country Report.