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The Rev. Peter Yein Reith
Photo: Morning Star News

Two South Sudanese church leaders are currently facing serious charges that could lead to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. The severe charges levied against Rev. Michael and Rev. Reith are the latest development in a series of repressive official actions targeting Christians in Sudan.

Rev. Michael and Rev. Reith were brought before a criminal court in Khartoum, Sudan, on May 4th. During the hearing, the clergymen were charged jointly with undermining the constitutional system, waging war against the state, disclosure and receipt of official information or documents, arousing feelings of discontent among regular forces, breach of public peace, and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs. Of the five charges, two carry the death penalty or life imprisonment in the event of a guilty verdict. A subsequent hearing has been set for May 14th.

Rev. Michael has been in detention since December of 2014, while Rev. Reith was detained since January of this year. Both were initially held by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) without charge, yet they were granted neither access to lawyers nor their families until March, when they were transferred to the custody of the Attorney General. It was while in the Attorney General's custody that the two men were finally given access to legal representation and family visits.

Rev. Michael was arrested shortly after making a speech at a church involved in a land dispute with government-supported private investors. At the time of his arrest, NISS agents reportedly stated that they were offended by the pastor's speech, which encouraged church members to continue standing firm through the trials they were experiencing. The Sudanese authorities have also attempted to illegally sell other properties belonging to the church.

Remember these two church leaders in your prayers, asking the Lord to give them strength and courage as they face the serious allegations. Pray that all of the charges will be dropped and that these men will be free to return to their loved ones and resume their ministry work. In addition, please intercede on behalf of the many other persecuted Christians in Sudan who are also presently suffering for Christ's sake.

For more information on Sudan's persecuted church, read our Country Report.