Sudanese pastors facing possible death penalty

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Bill Bumpas (

Two South Sudanese Pastors are on trial in Sudan for their Christian faith and, if convicted, they could get the death penalty.

religious persecution 620x300Pastor Yat Michael was taken into custody in December after preaching at a Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical church. Another pastor, Peter Yan, was arrested in January after inquiring about his colleague's arrest. Emily Fuentes, communications director for Open Doors USA, an advocacy group for persecuted Christians, explains this is a very serious case.

"It's not likely to be a fair trial,” she says. “As you might remember, about this time last year, Meriam Ibrahim was the pregnant mother in Sudan [who was] facing the death penalty because they claimed she had switched from being a Muslim to a Christian. And there wasn't a lot of wiggle room; there wasn't a lot of freedom or justice even in the trial, so it is worrisome."

Fuentes shares that in Ibrahim's case, prayers and creating awareness of her incarceration led to her release and relocation to the U.S. - and that, she adds, offers hope that the two Sudanese pastors can be freed.

“We really see that prayer as well as advocating on behalf of people, sharing their stories, does change things,” she says. “And so that's what we're asking in this situation too. We’re praying that the situation might come out like Meriam's did, that these pastors' lives might be spared." 

Sudan is ranked sixth on the Open Doors' 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.

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ICC hoping Sudan appeals to reason

The two Christian pastors who have been jailed in Sudan continue to await the outcome of their trial. If convicted, they could face the death penalty, but at least one group remains hopeful that won't be the case.