“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Suffering, Sacrifice and Sanctions
It was surreal walking in places littered with fox holes and bomb shelters, knowing that a little over a year ago, bombs were being dropped on the very places I was travelling through. The thousands of children we shared the Gospel with in schools had endured aerial bombardments by the Sudanese government time and time again. Although horrific, it is commonplace for the Nuban people to have seen friends and family die in bombings and military attacks. By God’s grace and pressure from the US with a promise of sanctions being lifted, a ceasefire has been implemented in Darfur, Nuba and the Blue Nile. President Al-Bashir was not driven by compassion on the people he was killing, but by a financial raise in the country’s economy. This time of peace made our task of distributing Bibles to the Nuban schools possible.
As we sat talking over a cup of Nuban coffee, one of the Christian leaders told us, “There was a time when we couldn’t even sit like this talking for one hour because the bombings were so frequent. We would have to spend the whole day in the fox holes [bomb shelters].” It baffled my mind that these loving, servant-hearted people had endured such suffering and hardship. They were our friends: we laughed with them, evangelized with them and had a deep bond with our Nuban brothers and sisters in the Lord. Yet these people, along with the precious children we met at the schools, had the trauma of war deeply burned into their minds and hearts. The fighting has stopped, at least for now, but the suffering and sound of combat still rings in their ears.
I asked one of our interpreters if he had had friends die in the air raids. He explained, “[Nuba] has been bombed by the Antonov… People have died, a lot.”
Embracing English Education
The Nubans are resisting Arabization by embracing English for their next generation. Even though they now speak Arabic, their hope is for the Nuba Mountains to be English speaking 20 years from now. Ben Cohen, our American team leader, raised funds and oversaw the shipping of 40,000 English Bibles to the Nuba Mountains - an incredibly laborious undertaking. We were able to reach 130 schools and distribute 32,000 Bibles to teachers, students, pastors and political leaders who rejoiced to receive God’s Word!
During the first part of our mission, Ben, Abrie, John and I split up into three teams with the local Nuban Bible College students. Thousands of children heard the Gospel through the stories of Creation to Christ, the sacrifice of Isaac to the sacrifice of Christ and from Joseph to Jesus. Many people told us that they had been praying for Bibles for years and now for the first time they had their very own Bible! To most of these children, this is the first book they have ever owned and they will be able to learn English by reading the Word of God. Much of their school curriculum is thoroughly based upon Scripture and now they have Bibles to strengthen their education. These Bibles are going to be used as textbooks for students of the primary (Elementary-Jr. High) and secondary schools (High schools).
Where There's a Will, There's a Way
Our journey began with challenges. My team’s vehicle had mechanical issues and needed some work done. This meant that we had to ride out to our school district in a large military transportation vehicle carting 12,000 Bibles, but we had no means of transportation once we arrived. We made it to our drop zone where we would be ministering and unloaded half of the Bibles for our ministry in the schools. Then I went along with the truck to drop the other 6,000 Bibles for Ben and Abrie to distribute to schools in an unstable conflict area. This area is largely Islamic and had faced the brunt of bombings and combat.
Due to the sun going down, the rough terrain and headlights on our vehicle that were less powerful than a flashlight, I had to stay overnight where we dropped the Bibles. The next day we drove back to where my team was waiting and were without a vehicle for transportation. However, due to the enthusiasm of the county commissioner, he was able to organize five schools to come to us the next day to receive their Bibles and to hear the Gospel.
That afternoon we went into the market to preach the Gospel. We had to go “footing” (as the locals call walking) about 20 minutes to get there. When we arrived, I tried to start a casual conversation in my typical American fashion and my interpreter informed me that the people were ready to listen. About 50 people gathered around as I shared the Gospel from the story of the Creation, Fall and Redemption. The crowd, which included quite a few Muslims, listened intently and respectfully. They warmly thanked me when I was done.
Sharing with Students
The next morning, the first school arrived to listen to our Gospel presentation and to receive Bibles. As I was finishing my talk, two more schools of nearly 400 students arrived and I was able to share the Gospel with them as well. The children were engaged as they heard the stories of Adam and Eve and Jesus Christ. The children all stood around respectfully and listened intently as I spoke.
That evening another secondary (high school) showed up and our team leader shared with them as I went off to a church Sunday school with my team to distribute Bibles and share with their children.
Although four schools had received Bibles, we still had thousands more Bibles to distribute and no vehicle to drive to the over 60 schools remaining! We had spoken at length about the fact that if our vehicle did not arrive we would need to walk two days back to our original base or have to try and hitch a ride on a Nuban truck driving past. We contacted the base and heard that after three days of being without a vehicle, there was some form of transportation coming to help us in the morning.
Still somewhat unsure of the transportation coming to rescue us, the next morning we went to the market for breakfast and on our way back to camp, a vehicle came driving toward us on the road. It was our transportation - Praise God! I have never before been so happy to see a truck in my life! When we drove in to camp, a group of 350 students was assembled and waiting for us to share with them. I jumped out in delight and shared the Creation to Christ story once again.
Epilepsy and Education
As I was sharing about Jesus, a young girl, standing only a meter in front of me, fell down in an epileptic fit. The kids all ran away from her rather than trying to catch her. I was concerned but the teacher said this commonly happens to her. He insisted that I keep on sharing with the children. I did and she became worse. At one point, she flung her fist at one of the people trying to carry her. Two of my team members prayed over her and she came back to her normal state by the time I was finished.
Just then, another 200 high school students arrived. Nearly 600 students were queued up to receive Bibles and The Story of Jesus Christ book. It was a joy to know that these students were receiving a Bible (most of them for the first time in their lives) and the younger students Gospel Story books.
Prepositioning and Preaching
We then loaded up 1,800 Bibles in the truck and drove an hour and a half to preposition the Bibles in one location for 12 schools to collect.
The next day we did a lot of driving, prepositioning Bibles in four different locations for roughly thirty different schools to come and collect. I was able to share the Gospel with five schools gathered at two different locations. There were over twenty schools in this region who still needed to receive Bibles so we left the remaining thousand Bibles for them to collect. We did a lot of driving, distributing, preaching and at the end of the day I had heat exhaustion and culture shock from hearing Arabic spoken all day.
Back on Base
We drove back to our base where John, Ben, Abrie and I had set out from five days earlier. After driving on a treacherous road for over four hours with ten people and four goats in the back of our truck, I was ready to drink lots of water and hear English spoken again. When I saw John back at camp, it was so refreshing to be with someone who understood my culture!
Over the next week, we were able to make the most of our time ministering around our base camp. We distributed Bibles and shared the Gospel with many schools. On Sunday we split up preaching at four different churches and during the week we shared morning devotions with leaders who were attending a leadership conference.
One of the highlights of the week was going into the market on “market-day” when everyone floods the stalls. John, Abrie and I (through our enthusiastic interpreter) collectively preached four times in the market reaching hundreds of people with the Gospel. People would gather around to listen as we shared stories from the Bible and entreated them to repent and trust in Christ. After one presentation, a small group of people came forward to call upon the Name of the Lord. It was exciting and encouraging to see God’s hand at work.
Bibles and Blessings
The last week we really saw how hungry these people were for the Word of God. We had one school walk two hours to come and collect boxes of Bibles (that’s a four-hour round trip walk in stifling heat)! At the end of the week as the leadership training seminar ended, we entrusted the leaders with 1,800 Bibles and 3,100 Story of Jesus Christ booklets to bring back to their schools, churches, military personnel and to the teachers under their care. One of the leaders holds Bible studies at his home and disciples many people. He needed over a hundred Bibles to give to those he is training and equipping for the Kingdom.
It is encouraging to see how hard-working and focused these believers are to see God’s glory displayed throughout the Nuba Mountains. Last time Ben and John came, they encouraged the people to plant a church in a least reached area and now, less than six months later there is a church there.
This mission was 14 months in the making as Ben prayed, coordinated, raised funds, gave sacrificially and spent many sleepless nights ensuring that the Bibles made it into the hands of these dear children. God promised in Isaiah that His Word, like the rain that falls on the earth, will produce life.
“So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
For the 90 plus tribes in the Nuba Mountains many of which are still unreached and under the control of the oppressive Sudanese government.
Pray for Nuban missionaries to go into the harvest.
Pray for the thousands of school children who heard the Gospel.
Pray for the many leaders who want the government of Nuba to be founded upon the Bible.
Pray that the Word of God would transform lives, schools and the churches.
Pray for the last of the Bibles that will be distributed after the rainy season.
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Frontline News, Edition 2, 2018 which includes other reports and photographs on the Mission to Sudan
Faith Under Fire in Sudan
MISSION TO SUDAN'S NUBA MOUNTAINS
BIBLES FOR THE NUBA MOUNTAINS
THE NUBA MOUNTAINS FOR CHRIST
Sudan in the Scriptures
Faith Under Fire in Sudan Now Available as an E-Book
Faith Under Fire in Sudan & 3 Films combo