Most have heard the tragic news about "The Lost Boys of Sudan."
Yet a far greater tragedy is going unreported, the story of the lost souls of Sudan. This news report will offer regular updates on the physical and spiritual journey home by thousands upon thousands of the lost souls of Sudan.
One of Africa's most deadly civil wars began in the Sudan about 1983 and raged for 22 years over what has been primarily a religious conflict. A peace agreement was signed in 2005. But before it signaled an end to the conflict, over two million people are estimated
to have died. Another four million were forced to flee, hiding in the nearby bush or escaping as refugees into neighboring countries.
Sudan is now divided along religious lines into two distinct areas. The Northern area, where the infamous Darfur is located, is Muslim. The southern part is now independent and is considered to be the "Christian" area. The church's ministry will start by concentrating in the southern area.
Sudan is the largest of all African nations, and the tenth largest nation in the world! The war that has ravished the land and its people in recent years puts it high on the nightly news.
A third-world emerging nation located in north-eastern Africa, Sudan is bordered by Egypt on the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Ethiopia to the east, and Kenya and Uganda on the southeast side.
Five other countries also share its border, making it an important hub.
English and Arabic are the official languages of Sudan. The population in July of 2006 even before all those who had fled for their lives began "coming home" was estimated to be around
While most view the events in Sudan as tragic, God can turn even the most disastrous situation into good. As brutal as the war has been in the Sudan, great opportunities now confront the people and extend a challenge to the church around the world. The seeds of opportunity have been planted, and they started growing in the refugee camps in neighboring countries where Sudanese refugees were temporarily housed. This is where many first came into contact with the Bible. With the civil war over, the Gospel is now penetrating the southern part of Sudan from a number of directions. The first influence came from Houston, Texas, when a group of international refugees from Sudan were taught and converted by brother Bill Yasko. From that group, Isaya Jackson attended the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas (formerly the Sunset School of Preaching). He has since graduated and returned to his homeland in order to preach.
In 1996, a World Bible School student, Roger Walker, obeyed the Gospel. Roger was from Uganda but had fled his homeland when a new government began executing those who had served in the former government. At the time of his conversion, Walker was living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where many refugees from other countries had congregated. He started studying with his neighbors - most of whom were refugees from Sudan. In a short time, more than 50 of his students had become Christians. Thus began the first congregation of Sudanese people known to exist since New Testament times! Two more Sudanese nationals, Kennedy Shuruma and Frank Luri, were converted and also trained further at Sunset. Kennedy has since returned to Sudan to begin preaching, and Frank is ready to return as soon as his support can be arranged.
When these men returned to preach among the South Sudan refugee camps in northern
Uganda, thousands were baptized. Along with preaching the Gospel to the lost, these men are focused on training additional church leaders and preachers with the goal of creating an independent church that can stand on its own and carry out its mission without longterm American support, which is the key to successful mission work.
Sudan refugees are now on the move. More than 3,000 Sudanese church members are returning from the refugee camps in Uganda. In the backs of trucks they travel and are often just dumped into fields close to where they originally lived. They often have no food, no water, and no shelter except for a blue plastic tarp with which to cover themselves when it rains. In the countryside of this wartorn nation, roads are nearly nonexistent. No schools, no housing, and almost no police protection exist. Neither will those returning home find hospitals, phones or electricity, and there is no working market system to supply basic needs. Even for those who have money - and these are few and far between, the money will do them little good. But in spite of this, the Sudanese feel an intense desire to return home. Despite hardships, the resilience of the people is strong; and they are trying to rebuild rather than staying in the crowded refugee camps of Uganda.
These Christian refugees are establishing new congregations in the heart of their homeland. The men who were preaching in the refuge camp congregations are now preaching in their homelands in South Sudan, and churches are starting to grow. What we are seeing is an exciting preview of what can happen when life returns to normal.
God promises that He will bring good from adversity, and we are seeing that! Opportunity and challenge now face us. War has made Sudan an open door. Possibly no people on earth are currently more receptive to the Gospel than the Sudanese. Loss and suffering have that effect on people. The need and the work in South Sudan will be massive! In future issues of this newsletter you will be introduced to some of the preachers, congregations and exciting plans for further growth of the Kingdom in this country of lost souls. Africa already has more congregations of the Lord's church than exist in all of the United States. Now Sudan, the largest nation on the entire continent, is ready to join the list of the successful!
The Sudanese national anthem says, "We are the Army of God..." The challenge and the opportunity facing the church today is to make this anthem a reality.