“I will build My Church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower It” Matthew 16:18
Do a google search on Sudan. It is unlikely that you will find anything positive. You will mostly learn about war, riots, civil unrest, humanitarian crises, poverty, persecution, etc. Of course, Sudan’s situation is desperate, But secular news agencies are not reporting on the rapid growth of God’s Kingdom in spite of devastation and disaster throughout the country. Thankfully, we were able to experience, first hand, the powerful advance of Christ’s Church in the Nuba Mountains.
I was blessed to witness a hunger for spiritual truth when I was in a predominately Muslim village. After a full day of traveling, we still had some daylight and decided to evangelise in a local marketplace. The first group of people we witnessed to was a crowd of young boys, playing just outside the market. They were wearing tattered shorts, no shoes and covered in dust from head to hip, with mud covering their legs and feet. As I approached, I noticed they were gathered around a wooden pole sticking out of the ground with a string attached to the top of the pole and a ball at the bottom end of the string. They were kicking the ball around from one person to another while they stood around the pole with the swinging ball. As I approached, the group of boys started buzzing with giggles, pointing at the “Kawaja” (white man). After introducing myself, I shared the story of Abraham. The adults sitting at a nearby well were all laughing while paying close attention to the activities in front of them. Everyone was carefully listening to the Gospel message in the story of Abraham. The people of this Muslim area were open, friendly and ready to listen to the Bible.
After I shared with the group of boys, we moved to the marketplace. I walked into the market, past a few vendors and I was immediately hit with the sight of about 50 grass thatch structures no higher than my head, all standing on reddish brown sand. The structures, which act as shops and restaurants, stand uneven and wobbly on the ground, almost like they got their design structure from the legs of a giraffe. There was a constant sound of chatting, shouting, goats bleating, cows mooing and motorbikes revving their engines. In the middle of the market, what seemed like high wooden benches made out of sticks, were stands for women selling tomatoes. There was a strong smell of roasting coffee and boiling ginger and spices for tea.
I walked up to a man who seemed to be in the military because of his automatic rifle and I greeted him. We shook hands. I looked to my left and observed three soldiers in military browns, with scuffed up rifles slung over their shoulders. They were looking at me with friendly smiles on their faces. I said I was a Christian and I had come to share the Gospel. They cheerfully told me that they were Christians too. I asked them if they thought it would be good for me to share a story with the people in the market. They told me to feel free. So I did. Confident that I just obtained military sanction to preach in the open-air, I walked to an empty area on the brown sand, covered by tree shade. In my loudest voice, I started greeting people on opposite ends of the market. People instantly responded by smiling, waving, laughing and walking closer to me. With my loudest effort, I began telling them the story of Zacchaeus while acting it out.
Hungry for the Word
People stared and listened to the Bible story as they gathered around me. During the message one lady ran into the middle of the circle that the crowd had created and started shrieking, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” It reminded me of the demon-possessed girl in Philippi. I commanded her to stop in Jesus’ Name. She stopped. The people remained encircled around me. I finished telling my story, but their eyes were still fixed on me. I asked if they wanted another story. They did. So, I shared another. One man became very excited and handed me his walking stick. He told me it was a gift. It was strange timing to receive a gift, but it became useful in my story later on.
I told them the story of Joseph, acting it out with children who were standing in the crowd.
When I was done, one man complained, “Don’t you see that we are suffering here.” I thought he was going to ask me for money, so I stopped him and immediately began explaining why there is suffering in the world. I explained that the world is made up of people who have wicked hearts, sinful pasts and destructive lives. Therefore, people need new hearts, Christ’s righteousness and new lives in Jesus. When I was done answering the question, in a preaching style, the people were still watching me! My interpreter said that maybe they wanted me to tell them another story. I began telling the story of Abraham. The walking stick I received earlier was particularly helpful in acting this out. I made the young man who played the part of Abraham, struggle up the mountains with his walking stick. When I was finally done, I had people asking me to pray for them, so I gave a final Gospel appeal and asked that anyone who wanted to talk or wanted prayer could approach me. There were many Muslims, drunkards and people from all walks of life who happened to come to the market that day. They had no idea that the Gospel would be planted in their hearts.
Testimonies from Bible Distribution
We also heard testimonies from ministry and Bible distribution that we had done in previous missions. I spoke with one of the school chaplains about Bibles that we distributed last year, especially in Muslim areas. He told me that after distributing Bibles to one high school four students read their Bibles and, through the Bibles, came to saving faith in Jesus Christ!
In another school, which is almost exclusively Muslim, the Bibles opened up the doors for Christianity. Since receiving Bibles, the teachers have now introduced Christian education to the students and they have even employed a Christian teacher. This particular school has also requested that the chaplains come more frequently to teach the children the content of the Bibles they have received!
The Hand of the Lord
A chaplain told us further testimony of how God has been working mightily in a Muslim village for the past 18 months. In 2017, a man with a heart for missions among his own people went to an Islamic village and began a small prayer group under a tree. Initially, people opposed him and chased the Christians away as they prayed. The Believers were determined not to stop praying and they persisted in praying for God’s Kingdom to come. During this time, one of our mission teams went to this same area and preached the Gospel in the open-air in the market place. Despite being in an Islamic stronghold, many people publicly called upon the Name of the Lord. About a month after this event, the man who started the prayer meeting planted a church. There was initial opposition, but the church was granted favour in the eyes of the military who controlled this village and the villagers were told to allow the church to function. About five months after the church was planted, our team went back to this area and distributed Bibles in the schools and preached the Gospel to the students. The Bibles were received with excitement. The schoolteachers listened attentively to the Gospel. Even the village leaders followed us around listening carefully to the Bible stories we told. Today, the church in this Muslim area is growing. Children are enquiring more and more about the Bibles. Christian workers are experiencing greater freedom to minister! We pray for an even greater increase of the Church in this area.
God’s Kingdom Advances
More and more pathways for the Gospel and discipleship are opening up in Sudan. I am constantly hearing testimonies of Sudanese coming to Christ in unconventional ways. Hundreds have surrendered to Jesus in refugee camps around North Africa. Many asylum seekers have heard the Gospel, living in safer countries. People from all over Sudan have come to Christ through the opportunities made available by the effects of war. Some of these people are going back into Sudan to share the Good News with their families and friends.
Please will you pray for the Church in Sudan. Many people are suffering for their Faith. Ask God to empower His people to be salt and light in the face of warfare, poverty and false religion. Pray for the Church in countries where there are Sudanese refugees. Ask the Lord to motivate His people to reach out to Sudanese men and women who would have no other opportunity to hear the Gospel. Pray for schoolteachers in Sudan to believe in Jesus Christ and raise the next generation of Sudanese people to love and fear God. Pray for God to open up more opportunities for missionaries to access Sudan and minister the Word and Christ’s love to our suffering brothers and sisters. Pray for all the unbelievers in Sudan who have heard the Gospel. Ask the Holy Spirit to do His wonderful work in drawing sinners to Christ!
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21
Rev. John Clifford
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021 689 4480
Caring for Leaders in Sudan
Children in the War Zone
Bibles and Books to Sudan with Love
Bibles for the Nuba Mountains
Mission to the Nuba Mountains
Bibles Bless the Nuba Mountains
An Overview of Sudan in History