Church partners in Sudan and South Sudan have asked for prayers for two pastors, Rev. Yat Michael and Rev. Peter Yen, who have been detained without charge in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.
Stated Clerk Grayde Parsons and Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014), have co-signed a letter to Ambassador Donald Booth, U.S. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, and a number of other key political leaders in Washington, urging them to pursue the matter through diplomatic channels. Rada will express his concern and pledge his solidarity in person in South Sudan later this month.
Director Hunter Farrell and other World Mission staff are keeping Rev. Philip Akway Obang, general secretary of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC), informed of the PC(USA)’s ongoing advocacy for the safety and release of the two pastors.
Rev. Yat Michael, an SSPEC pastor, was invited to preach at the Khartoum North congregation of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church on Sunday, December 21, during a visit. After worship, he went to the church office with a local pastor, Rev. Hafis. Men who identified themselves as Sudanese government security personnel entered the office and demanded to see Michael.
“Then they took him without giving any reasons,” said Rev. Philip, another local pastor. “They just told Rev. Hafis that he] would be released after their investigations. But the next day security personnel went to Rev. Yat’s wife and took his clothes. And we have heard nothing more, even up to today.”
The SSPEC general secretary wrote to the Sudanese government’s Religious Affairs Office to express the church’s concern and to call for Michael’s release. Rev. Peter Yen, another SSPEC pastor who also was visiting Khartoum, delivered the letter by hand. A few days later, on Sunday, January 11, Yen was asked to report to security, and he too was detained without warrant or charge.
The pastors’ families and colleagues have not been permitted to contact them. At this time they don’t even know where the pastors are being held. Presbyterian World Mission asks for prayers for the two pastors. Updates will be posted on the Presbyterian World Mission Facebook page.