> Commemoration: The Martyrs of the Sudan
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Annually on May 16
The Martyrs of the Sudan
The Collect Prayer:
O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant us your grace, that as the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, we too may be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From Holy Women, Holy Men:
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” the third-century
North African teacher, Tertullian, once wrote. And in no place is that
observation more apt than in Sudan, Africa’s largest country, and a
land long torn by violence.
British policy in the late nineteenth century was to arbitrarily divide
the vast country between a Muslim North and a multiethnic South,
limiting Christian missionary activity largely to the latter, an artificial
division that has created enduring problems. Since independence,
on January 1, 1956, three civilian governments and three military
dictatorships have ruled a country that has experienced forty-one years
of civil war. During the 1980s Sudan’s internal armed conflict assumed
an increasingly religious character, fueled by a northern-dominated
Islamic government imposing authoritarian political control, Islam as
the state religion, a penal code based on Sharia law, and restrictions on
free speech and free assembly.
On May 16, 1983, a small number of Episcopal and Roman Catholic
clerical and lay leaders declared they “would not abandon God
as they knew him.” Possibly over two million persons, most of
them Christians, were then killed in a two-decade civil war, until a
Comprehensive Peace Treaty was signed in January 2005. During
those years, four million southern Christians may have been internally
displaced, and another million forced into exile in Africa and
elsewhere. Yet despite the total destruction of churches, schools, and
other institutions, Sudanese Christianity, which includes four million
members of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, has both solidified
as a faith community, and gradually expanded at home and among
refugees, providing steadfast hope in often-desperate setting.
This hymn, written by Sudanese children in exile in Ethiopia, reflects
both the tragedy and depth of faith of Sudan’s Christians:
Look upon us, O Creator who has made us.
God of all peoples, we are yearning for our land.
Hear the prayer of our souls in the wilderness.
Hear the prayer of our bones in the wilderness.
Hear our prayer as we call out to you.
Click the link below to learn about the Martyrs of Sudan: