After his wife divorced him, court prohibited Christian from seeing boys
By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
NAIROBI, KENYA (ANS) -- After his wife's family in Sudan urged her to become a Muslim and divorce him earlier this year, Sudanese Christian Mohammed Khidir Khalil was not allowed to see his sons, ages 3 and 5.
Unless there is further opposition, however, according to a story by Morning Star News, Oct. 27 will be the first time the 38-year-old convert to Christianity will have seen his boys since Christmas of last year.
A Sudanese court had ruled in March that his wife, as a member of "the popular religion," be awarded custody of the children and forbade Khalil, as a Christian, to even visit them.
"What wrong did I do against any one of you, that you would punish me by not letting me see my kids again?" Khalil on Oct. 21 told a Sudanese appeals court, with his wife's family present.
Khalil, who did not have a lawyer, told Morning Star News by email that he sensed the Lord opening his mouth at the hearing.
"I said that I have the right to see my children for their psychological balance and their normal behavior in life," he said. "That no matter what is the belief of the father or his status in the eyes of the court, he is still the father of the children. That even a criminal who committed bad crimes is allowed to communicate with his children."
Morning Star News reported that beforehand he feared that at best his case would be dismissed - and that at worst he would ultimately be killed as an apostate challenging Islamic authorities.
Khalil said he was surprised that the court listened to him. "The powerful words my mouth spoke must have touched both the judge and the hearts of my ex-wife's family," Morning Star News reported he said. "There was a big silence in the room, and the necks were bowed as a sign of agreement. Jesus surprised me with His powerfulness."
Moring Star News reported the appeals court ruled that he could see his children every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., he said.
Morning Star News said that Khalil, who converted to Christianity in 2001, had met Manal Hassan in 2007. At that time she said she was neither a Christian nor a Muslim, and they married in a non-religious wedding. The bride's Muslim family learned that Khalil was a Christian but had no objection to the marriage, he said.
By 2010, Morning Star News said, the couple had joined an undisclosed church and had become visibly active in it. Opposition from their families grew, and after threats from them and others intensified, the couple fled to Egypt in Jan. 2011. Khalil and his young family obtained asylum as refugees in Egypt, and he was encouraged that his wife was attending church with him.
In Aug. 2011, his Muslim mother-in-law visited them in Egypt.
"Without my knowledge, she took my wife and children back to Sudan," Morning Star News reported Khalil said.
In emails to friends back in Sudan, Khalil openly shared his Christian experience and pointed out what he termed as contradictions in Islam.
Morning Star News said that hearing nothing from his family after his mother-in-law took his wife and two sons back to Sudan. On Christmas Day, Khalil decided to return to an undisclosed town in Sudan to search for them. He was shocked to discover that his wife had filed for divorce on grounds that she was a Muslim and he a Christian.
A Sudanese court had granted her custody of their two sons and forbade him to see them, he said.
In February, Morning Star News said, Khalil decided to appeal the divorce ruling. His wife had presented a copy of a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees certificate showing Khalil's testimony as a Christian. That was enough proof for a judge to rule in March that the marriage be annulled and the children handed over to the spouse professing "the popular religion" - Islam, the supposed faith of Hassan.
Morning Star News reported the court further ruled that Khalil did not have a right even to visit the children, but in April he tried to see them. His former wife's family threatened to call police if he persisted.
After months of upset and depression, Morning Star News reported Khalil said he was overwhelmed with gratitude to those who have prayed for him.
"Praise the name of our Lord! Praise His name forever! I'm grateful for all brothers and sisters in the love of our Lord Jesus," he said, adding, "I pray for continuous blessing on my children as they grow."
For more information go to the website of International Christian Response (ICR), http://christianresponse.org/index.php?page=news.
Later this year look for Morning Star News at www.morningstarnews.org.