On Friday, January 13th, 2017, in the final days of the Obama administration, the President signed an Executive Order lifting sanctions against the Islamist Government of Sudan.
One of the reasons cited for lifting the Clinton and Bush-era sanctions was a “sea change” of behavior by the Islamist regime in providing humanitarian access to war-torn regions of Sudan.
There was just one problem: there has been no “sea change” of behavior by President Omar al Bashir’s government.
The Obama administration’s move was widely criticized by Sudan watch groups on both the political Left and Right. Sudan expert Prof. Eric Reeves referred to the decision as “The final betrayal of the Sudanese people.”
Of course, there is an age-old debate on whether economic sanctions are actually more effective in harming oppressive regimes, or the innocent victims of those regimes. But the Obama administration wasn’t coming down on one side vs. the other of this debate when it decided to lift Sudan sanctions. Rather, the Administration was coming down on the side of fiction instead of truth.
For example, just days before the January 13th decision to lift sanctions, President Bashir’s forces committed more massacres in Darfur.
President Obama’s order created a six-month probationary period, during which time the US Government will monitor the situation to see if Bashir’s government has truly “turned over a new leaf.”
Bashir didn’t waste any time in sending his first report.
On January 29th, an Islamist court in Khartoum sentenced three men to long prison sentences. One of those men was Petr Jasek, a Christian aid worker and Czech national. He was sentenced to life behind bars for “espionage.” The reality is that Jasek was in Sudan to document Christian persecution and help pay the medical expenses of a Darfuri student severely burned by Sudan’s Intelligence Services.
The verdict against Jasek and his associates was not a surprise considering this is the same government which sentenced Miriam Ibrahim to death in 2014 for the alleged “crime” of converting to Christianity. Thankfully, strong international pressure compelled her release, and she’s now living in America with her family.
Evidently, the Islamist government of Omar al Bashir sees any promotion of the Gospel as a direct threat to its survival.
At time of publication, Jasek has just been released, but his associates remain in prison awaiting the outcome of their appeal.
Regardless of whether Khartoum bows to diplomatic pressure and releases the men, one thing is clear: President Bashir and his NCP government have sent a message to the new Trump Administration with their conviction of Petr Jasek: the leopard hasn’t changed his spots — and has no intention of doing so.
The same government which supported international terrorists, cozied up to Iran, and killed and displaced millions of Sudanese after coming to power in 1989, is the same government which recently received $110 million in aid from the EU, and thanked it by imprisoning one of its citizens for life for the “crime” of loving his neighbor.
It was reported that after Jasek was told of the verdict against him, he sent a message to his family, encouraging them to meditate on Psalm 31. Men and nations rage, and plot against the LORD and His Anointed. But David, speaking through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was able to pen the following verses. May it constitute the summation of all our prayers for the release of Petr and all those in chains for the sake of the Gospel.
“Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit”
A Psalm of David
In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
You take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.
Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!