“O my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: ‘Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?’ Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.” Jeremiah 8:18-19,21.
In the Scriptures, Cush (present day Sudan) is referred to 52 times making it the second most mentioned place in the whole Bible. The Word of God declares that something of world-wide significance will happen in Sudan (Isaiah 18). What could this possibly be?
“If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15
Over the course of the 15 months in preparation leading up to this mission, I was told by a few different mission agencies that the vision God had placed in my heart for the Sudanese people, was too big. I was told by several sending agencies to sit down and shut up and that I needed to go back to school to get a seminary degree. I was told it was too dangerous. I was told that to pull off what God had put inside my heart for these people was crazy and that I needed to see a counsellor.
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible'.” Matthew 19:26
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?” And I said, “Here I am, send me!” Isaiah 6:8
We took 5,000+ Bibles, 11,000 Scripture Books, 350+ Emmaus Correspondence Courses, 100lbs of medicines, 600 blankets, piles of clothes, 600 composition books, 440 lbs of sorghum (grain), 1,000 lbs of salt, 1,000 bars of soap, 1,000 tubes of toothpaste/toothbrushes and other assorted goodies our team took into the Nuba Mountains. In this area of Sudan, Christians have been suffering at the hands of a brutal Islamic regime headed by Omar Al-Bashir. Thousands of churches, villages and homes have been bombed and/or burned to the ground, Christians have been crucified upside down, and limbs have been cut off in the name of Sharia Law.
The journey began in Juba, South Sudan. When I stepped foot off the plane Sunday morning, the team of 4 Sudanese Pastors that would accompany me got me through the airport and we immediately began working to make the necessary arrangements to get over 4 ½ tons of supplies mobilized. The items were then flown 337 miles north to Yida, a UN Refugee Camp, 14 miles from the border of Sudan in a demilitarized zone. When spent 2 days here ministering before heading into Sudan. Yida Refugee Camp is an example of what 100,000 homeless people look like. Did you know that the average stay of a refugee in a “home” which is made up of sticks, material and ropes, is 17 years?
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.’” Jeremiah 10:2
Upon arriving in Yida, we spent some time prayer walking through the camp. As we walked the perimeter of the camp, I prayed Psalm 85:6-7 over greater Sudan:
“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation.” Psalm 85:6-7
After spending much time in prayer, we then went to the marketplace in the centre of the camp and distributed Scripture books to 1,000s of Muslims. Muslims that we had prayed for as we walked through the city literally mobbed us on two separate occasions to obtain copies of Genesis, the Gospels of John and Luke as well as the Psalms and Proverbs. Will you join me in praying for each one of these Muslims that received a copy? That they would see Jesus in their dreams? That they would call on the Name of the Lord and be saved!
“For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved!” Romans 10:13
While at Yida, we also had a chance to visit the camp’s upper level school, Vision Secondary, and share the Gospel with over 500 students. Many students lack textbooks and even paper to write on. Many of them write in the dirt as they complete their school assignments. Despite these challenges, they make the best of the opportunities they are given. They know getting their education is one of the only ways they can help their people.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
After speaking with and encouraging the students to keep pressing on, regardless of the obstacles, we spent time with their teachers praying and equipping them with ECS courses they will use to teach students the Scriptures. We were also able to get them composition books, highlighters and 440 lbs of sorghum. Did you know the UN has cut off the food they are giving to this school in an effort to shut it down because they are using the Bible to teach students the Word of God? This is the same UN that spends your tax money erecting Buddhist shrines in other countries and distributing food aid to the predominantly Muslim towns in South Sudan but threatened to shoot down a Frontline Fellowship plane out of the sky that was flying Bibles into the Nuba Mountains.
"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." Psalm 127:1
It is interesting to note that when South Sudan achieved independence in 2011 and declared it would become a Christian nation, former US President Jimmy Carter persuaded the new South Sudan government to declare themselves a secular state, to not have any prayer at parliament and to adopt the secular textbooks provided by UNICEF for their schools. After all the sacrifices of so many Christians to achieve the freedom and independence of South Sudan, many feel betrayed by the secular humanism the UN is imposing on the new nation and the destructive counsel given by Jimmy Carter. Please join us in praying for the 2 Sudanese Pastors we have traveling back to Yida In September to do some follow up work.
After speaking at the school and doing quite a bit of marketplace evangelism, the time had come to load the trucks and cross the border into Sudan. This 75 mile journey required us to take two of the green trucks. The SPLA-N (Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army – good guys) captured these from the SAF (Sudan Armed Forces – bad guys) earlier this year. They were kind in allowing us to take these, especially since the rainy season had just started and the roads were already in poor condition.
In addition to all the items listed above, we were also able to help transport the materials needed to build the only hospital in all of western Nuba, an area served by two of the Pastors I partner with. In this part of the Nuba Mountains, the Islamic Regime is extremely hostile to Christians. In fact, there are only three churches in this whole western portion of the Nuba Mountains and just this year one of those churches was been burned to the ground.
The journey into Sudan was a long one and our team faced incredible challenges. Because the roads were so bad, it took us 22 hours to travel the 75 miles needed to arrive at our base of operations within the Nuba Mountains. On this journey, we got stuck in the mud three times and were delayed by two flat tires. The determination and resilience of these Christians to help their people is incredible.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8
This mission was literally the toughest thing I’ve ever done, requiring every ounce of strength I had in mind, body and spirit. Amidst each of the challenges, Christ was right there with us, allowing us opportunities to minister in ways we hadn’t even planned.
“In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
We stopped at one of the mountain villages within Sudan to repair a flat tire. I preached while we were stuck at the border checkpoint for 2 ½ hours trying to cross into Sudan. Many refugees at the border checkpoint had everything they own in a single sack trying to get to safety.
I mentioned earlier that the trek into Sudan took 22 hours. We finally arrived at our base of operations within the Nuba Mountains around 3am the next morning and quickly unloaded. I remember vaguely falling asleep around 4:30am. By 7am, however, the team was up and ready to go, making the necessary preparations for the Pastors Conference we had scheduled that day.
“When they had preached the Gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the Faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
The particular church we held the conference was bombed 18 times in a 12 month period. Amidst intense persecution, the Church is growing faster in Sudan than anywhere else in the world I know of. The believers here proclaim “the Bibles of the Christians are more powerful than the bombs of the Muslims!” The Pastor featured in the middle picture above stood up and without hesitation said “We are willing to die. If we die, then we know we’ve finished our mission.” This time of fellowship with these Pastors was incredibly sweet. Many of them travelled for 2 days on foot without food or water to reach us.
“Is not My Word like a fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.” Jeremiah 23:29
There were 2 separate churches that we preached in on a Sunday morning for 5 ½ hours. The one was burned to the ground by the Arabs and the other was bombed. In fact, entire congregations have been burned to death inside of their churches. Despite the aerial bombardments and constant harassment from the Islamic Government, the churches are rebuilt and overflowing with Christians offering praises and hymns of thanksgiving to God.
“…on this Rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail.” Matthew 16:18
One of my favourite parts of this mission was ministering to the soldiers. On one particular occasion, our team met one of the most feared soldiers in the whole SPLA who happened to be a Muslim. This man is feared amongst all the terrorist groups in Africa and the Middle East. Although he is a Muslim, he was fighting with the Christians because he has seen what the Government in Sudan is doing to people in the name of Islam. Although he had been shot 10 times, he was in good spirits. I prayed with him and asked the Lord to give him eyes to see, and after praying, gave him a Bible. With tears in his eyes he said, “THIS IS GREATER THAN MY DAILY BREAD. You must come back with more Bibles to give to our troops.”
"Then Jesus declared, 'I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty'." John 6:35
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1,3
There is something each of you should know about these Christians on the frontline
Not only are they fighting the Islamic Government of Sudan, they are also fighting other terrorist groups that are trying to destroy Christianity in North/Central Africa and the Middle East. At the beginning of March, Christians in the Nuba Mountains were attacked from 6 different fronts. Joining the Government of Sudan was 5,000 troops from Al-Shabaab in Somalia, 5,000 thousand troops from Boko Haram in Nigeria and another 5,000 troops from Al-Qaeda. What we need to realize is that all these terrorist groups are working to wipe Christianity off the face of the map. Just in 5 years, over 17,000 Christians have been massacred and 1,000 churches have been destroyed in Northern Nigeria alone. In Iraq, the population of Christians has shrunk from 1.2 million to under 200,000 in just a few years.
As the Body of Christ we have two options. The first is that we can live in fear and embrace cowardice because it’s too dangerous or it’s too much of a liability to go to places such as these. The second option is that we can risk it all for the Gospel to see Christ’s Name exalted among the nations.
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30
Will we choose to embrace our comforts or RUN TO THE CROSS!
Will we die in our religion or die in our devotion? Do we really want to be where Jesus is?
Will we live for pleasure in this world or paradise in the world to come?
The best earthly security is ultimately insecure.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot, martyr
“Believing that further delay would be sinful, some of God’s insignificants and nobodies in particular, but trusting in our Omnipotent God, have decided on certain simple lines, according to the Book of God, to make a definite attempt to render the evangelization of the world an accomplished fact. Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin. The time for waiting is past! The hour of God has struck! In God’s holy Name let us arise and build! We will not build on the sand, but on the bedrock sayings of Christ, as the gates and minions of hell shall not prevail against us. Should such men as we fear? Before the whole world, aye, before the sleepy, lukewarm, faithless, namby pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God, we will venture our all for Him, we will live and we will die for Him, and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts. We will a thousand times sooner die trusting only in our God than live trusting in man. And when we come to this position the battle is already won, and the end of the glorious campaign in sight. We will have the real Holiness of God, not the sickly stuff of talk and dainty words and pretty thoughts; we will have a masculine Holiness, one of daring Faith and works for Jesus Christ.” C.T. Studd.
A wealthy Englishman who sold all that he had to go to China and then India and then, when it was time to retire, he threw retirement aside and spent his last days in Africa until he died. He roused the Church to action on behalf of those who had never heard the Gospel. We had the opportunity to visit a school on the side of a mountain and share the Gospel and encourage 780 children. The devastation is real, as a lady that lost her arm during a bombing in the name of Sharia law.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church….” Colossians 1:24
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is dynamite in the heart. It is the POWER of God to save!
P.O. Box 74
Mission to South Sudan, Sudan & Chad