Omdurman, Sudan – In a surprise move, Sudanese authorities have released a woman from prison who had previously been sentenced to endure 100 lashes for the converting from Islam to Christianity. Her harsh physical punishment was later changed to death as required under Sharia Law which has prevailed over this impoverished African nation for the past four decades. The strict definition of the term “conversion” never really applied to lovely Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, age 27. She was born to a Muslim father and Christian mother and always considered herself to be Christian. However, Muslim laws consider all citizens to be Muslim so her public declaration of Christian faith was seen as apostatizing from Islam.
The Sudanese government, desperate for foreign aid and stinging from intense criticism over their persecution of Christians, apparently did not see any way to avoid a public relations nightmare should Mrs. Ishag be executed. She was pregnant during her several month stay in prison and recently gave birth. Prison officials offered her what they believed was a gesture of mercy to nurse her child for two years after which time she would be executed. For her part, she remained firm in the faith like the Biblical figures Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego who were sent into a fiery furnace rather than bow to an idol against their faith. In fact, she defiantly told the court she would not renounce her faith even at the peril of her own life.
As it turns out, the she was quietly released from prison yesterday. Officials are mum about their reasons surrounding her dramatic release, but it will no doubt be seen by her many Christian supporters as an intervention by God Almighty softening the hearts of the powers that be. Regardless of where a person stands on matters of faith, her stunning release certainly affirms her faith in a higher power.