Sudan, a place that's seen genocide, war, and persecution for as long as some can remember is finally coming out of the dark. The nation's new transitional government is making real reforms that allow the Sudanese people to live and worship more freely.
On a recent trip to Sudan, American observers witnessed something that hasn't happened in decades, Sudanese Christians worshipping freely without fear of persecution.
It's a relief after years of suffering under Islamic Sharia Law.
"Christians in particular could see their places of worship destroyed, they would be arrested and there were charges of apostasy and blasphemy that were leveled because these are in the penal codes," Dwight Bashir tells CBN News. He's the director of outreach and policy at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Last year President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown and now faces charges of genocide before the International Criminal Court.
The new transitional civilian government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, is transitioning Sudan out of the dark.
"The worst of the persecution no longer exists. There's no more attacking of churches," Bashir says.
He recently traveled to Sudan with two USCIRF commissioners to meet with Hamdok and the delegation agrees it's clear he's intent on enacting real reforms.
The State Department has downgraded Sudan from a major violator of religious liberty to a watch list, but for Hamdok, change isn't coming easy. Just this month he survived an attempt on his life.
"For him to succeed he needs to be protected. His cabinet needs to be protected. He's brought in two Christians into his cabinet which would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago," Bashir explains.
Much work remains, like changes in zoning laws so Christians can build churches, along with other reforms that will allow the people of Sudan to worship more freely as their conscience dictates. However, for the first time in a long time there's hope against many odds those changes are coming.
Presently Sudan is listed as number 7 of the world's top persecutors of Christians on Open Doors USA's 2020 WorldWatch List.