Christians in South Sudan could only watch as government authorities tore down their church with a bulldozer just hours after service last Sunday.
Leaders of the small Evangelical Church in Al Haj Yousif said police officers arrived in three trucks, along with a bulldozer, without any warning. The police took chairs, tables, and Bibles from the church.
"They took everything from the church," one church leader told Morning Star News.
Officials told church leaders they were tearing the building down because the worship caused a disturbance. Yet, church leaders said the government wants to give the property to a local Muslim business.
The church says it has owned the property since 1989, but the local Muslim business has forged documents in an effort to prove ownership.
This isn't the first time the government has destroyed churches in the country. Christian persecution has intensified since the succession of South Sudan in July 2011. President Omar al-Bashir said he would adopt a stricter from of Sharia law in the predominately Muslim country, making it more dangerous for the country's Christian minority,
Morning Star has documented the Sudanese government's destruction of churches. Since 2012, Sudan has destroyed and raided Christian churches under the pretext that they belong to the Muslim population.
The government demolished a church in Omdurman on Feb. 17, 2014, according to area sources. Later that year, Sudanese forces put a padlock on a Pentecostal church in Khartoum.
The United States State Department has designated Sudan as a Country of Particular Concern since 1999. One major reason is due to its relentless persecution of Christians.
Persecution watchdog organization Open Doors ranks Sudan as number 4 on its World Watch List, which categorizes the top 50 countries where Christian persecution occurs.