Sudanese Christian “Jemima” was a university student and led a Bible study group for other female students. She was thrilled that some Muslim girls attended the meetings. But all too soon Jemima found herself under arrest. She was charged with “acting against Sudan” and put in prison.
Hundreds of Sudanese Christian women are in prison – not for any crime, but simply because they have broken one of the regulations of Islamic law (sharia). Some have their children in jail with them. Prison conditions are harsh, and they suffer much. A local Sudanese prison ministry gives these women and children practical and spiritual support.
Will you help this work continue, bringing hope, comfort and freedom to innocent Christians?
Sudan’s sharia – and other laws
Sudan has been ruled by a strict version of sharia since 1983. In classical Islam, sharia laws applied only to Muslims, but in Sudan they are applied to non-Muslims too. Christian women, therefore, can be put in prison simply for letting a little hair show or for sleeves that expose their wrists. Or for travelling on a bus without a man to accompany them. A Sudanese church leader told Barnabas Fund earlier this year that his government is now imposing sharia more on non-Muslims than on Muslims.
Sharia strongly opposes the conversion of Muslims, so anyone, like Jemima, who is sharing the Gospel with Muslims, is likely to find some kind of charge concocted against them.
Hope and aid for Christian women prisoners
Anti-Christian pressure of many kinds is increasing in Sudan, apparently aiming to eliminate the Christian presence altogether. But – praise God – a Sudanese Christian prison ministry is still allowed to minister to Christian women in prison for sharia offences. The ministry’s volunteer chaplains run worship services on Sundays and Fridays, and a Bible study / worship service on another day in the week. They also counsel and pray with the women individually. They provide medical care, blankets, clothes and other practical needs.
The ministry helps the women with legal issues and pays their legal expenses and fines. Until her fine is paid, a woman cannot leave prison, even if she has completed her sentence. Fines can be as low as £10 ($12; €11) for a minor infringement of the sharia dress code but hundreds of pounds for women like Jemima who have been sharing their faith with Muslims. For impoverished Christians in a poor country like Sudan, even small fines can be impossible to afford.
In 2018, more than 1,200 inmates were helped, including about 150 children. Fines were paid for 49 women, enabling them to leave and go home.
The ministry continues to care for women who have been recently released, helping them to find work to support themselves. Due to the chaplains’ input, many women become much stronger in their faith while in prison, and are more active and committed in their local churches after their release than they were before.
Your gift can help keep this vital ministry running, and make an impact on the lives of hundreds of persecuted women and children every year.
Typical cost of one Bible is £5 ($6; €5.50)
Typical cost of two blankets is £11 ($14; €12)
Typical fine is £35 ($45; €40)