Open Doors from God
Before our ministry in the Nuba Mountains began, we had opportunities to witness to people from different countries. In the airport in South Africa, we witnessed to an Ethiopian family whose little girl had some questions about God. We shared the way of Salvation with her and she said that she wanted to pray to God to change her heart. We prayed together with her in the airport.
While visiting a small market place in Juba, South Sudan, we met with some Muslims from Somalia. One of them told us that he used to live in South Africa, but he moved to South Sudan because it was safer than South Africa! We also shared the way of Salvation with him.
Entering South Sudan
Our arrival in South Sudan was chaotic, as expected. The international airport requires one to be ruthless in shouldering people out of the way to collect one’s luggage from the back of a pickup. From there, you are expected to navigate through a tight crowd of people in which there are dozens of rowdy young men trying to “help” you drag your bags to the inspection counter. At this stage, everything you own gets opened up and inspected for who-knows-what. If you are lucky enough to meet the unspoken expectations of the security officer, he will mark your luggage up with white chalk so that you can leave the airport through another abrasive swarm of bodies.
The Nuba Mountains
The war-torn region of the Nuba Mountains has been under severe aerial bombardment and land invasions for many decades by the Islamic Arab North. Many tribes have surrendered to Christ. Churches and schools are the prime targets for enemy aggression. Pastors have been arrested and tortured for being community leaders and teaching the people about Christ.
The first day of ministry for me was visiting seven schools which included preaching, distributing Bibles, encouraging the teachers, and instructing them as how to use the Bibles as part of their curriculum. Arriving at each school, I witnessed a sea of children running into the open rocky plain with the happiest smiles you have ever seen all shouting “Kawaja Kawaja” (“white man, white man”). They thought it was very funny to see a white person until I got close enough to touch – at which point the humour of it all very quickly disappeared and became shock-horror. After some time, they would warm up to me, but our relationship would remain a very cautious attraction.
Ministry to Muslims
The second day of ministry brought me, and my team of local ministers, to a totally Islamic district to minister at a large school. We met up with the local authorities to ask permission to go to the school. They thought it strange, and informed us that all the students are Muslims. “Yes”, we replied, “But these are English books for them to read”. The authorities then allowed us to proceed, but not before I prayed for all of them. I went to the school and preached the Gospel. The children and the teachers seemed to be gripped as I told them the story of Adam and Eve and how Jesus Christ is the Seed of the woman who crushed the head of the serpent when Jesus died and rose again. We distributed Bibles to all of them, and many of the older students instantly started reading! The teachers all received Bibles. The local chief was there, and even he listened to the message and afterwards thanked our team for coming.
This was actually not my first visit to this area. Ben and I had been there before and preached in the open-air. During this most recent mission, I learned that a local pastor planted a church just a few weeks after we left! Praise God who waters the seed and reaps a bountiful harvest!
Difficulties and Diseases
By this stage, I had visited 12 schools and over the next two days I would visit another 13 schools. After the first four days of ministry, I had shared the Gospel and distributed Bibles to thousands of children. Most of my travelling and all of the preaching was in the open, exposed to the harsh elements. The fiery sun and the dry climate made preaching an incredibly strenuous task. My immune system also struggled to fight against the ferocious Nuba germs. By the end of the fourth day, my body was well worn-out.
Strangely enough, I was not sick of the ministry. I was exhausted, but not fed-up with preaching. I was tired, but energized by the children I was ministering to. Sometimes, when preaching tires you out, the most invigorating thing to do is to preach even more. And so, our team pressed on. School after school received English Bibles and Story of Jesus Christ picture full colour booklets.
Gifts to the Grateful
One of the most encouraging things to witness was the school children reading their Bibles as soon as they received them. I went into one classroom about 10 minutes after distributing the Bibles and a group of senior students were reading through the book of Joshua out loud together. At another school, the head-teacher told me that the students are always asking for Bibles, and now they each have their own copies. When we announced to each school that we have brought them the Word of God, they mostly responded with big smiles, nods of appreciation, and loud clapping! Many of the students do not own a single book. The Bible is now the first book that they own. There are plenty of students who come from homes where there is not a single Bible. Now there is at least one in their homes.
By the end of the mission, our team had personally distributed 32,000 Bibles, 43,000 Story of Jesus Christ Picture books and gave Gospel presentations to 130 primary and secondary schools. We had also strategically pre-positioned and given more Bibles and Story of Jesus Christ picture books for school children who will be old enough to read and receive them next year.
Our team also had the opportunity to encourage pastors, teachers, politicians, and military leaders of the Nuba Mountains. We exhorted them from God’s Word for four days in a row. At the end of their conference, we gave them Bibles for their ministries and for the personnel whom they are leading.
In addition to our distribution ministry, our team took many opportunities for evangelism. Between travelling from one school to another, we stopped at a market place. With my interpreter, I walked over the busiest section and started open-air preaching. Only one minute went by and a drunkard with an axe started yelling at me. The more I ignored him, the angrier he got. He finally raised his axe as he aggressively ran toward me when a nearby soldier stood in his way and disarmed him. Thankfully this drew an even larger crowd who gathered to see the drama. All these people heard the Gospel. Some even wanted to publically call upon the Name of the Lord.
The market places are always fully of life and noise. Deals are being made. Friends are meeting and eating together. Vendors are fussing to find a place to set up their little stalls. People are everywhere. With a loud enough voice, one can draw a crowd of a few hundred people. Our team did just that. We told the people stories from the Bible, always pointing them to the Lord Jesus. People from one section of the market place asked us to come back and share more stories and pray for them. What a blessing to be used by God to minister the Gospel to hundreds of people.
Provision and Protection
Ministry in the Nuba is a great adventure that comes with many challenges and dangers. On our way out of the Nuba Mountains, there were cattle raids between two tribes. Our team had to be escorted by military personnel. At one stage over a hundred infantry were on the ground to usher us through a volatile area where at least 6 people had recently been killed from gunfire.
Not only are the Nuba Mountains dangerous, but so is South Sudan, where we spent a few nights. While we were there, we saw military on almost every street corner near the presidential compound. One night, while eating at a small market place, we heard loud popping sounds. Everyone stood to their feet and started running, overturning tables and chairs in the process. They fled as though running from gunfire. It turned out to be some young troublemakers throwing stones against a corrugated iron roof. But, the mentality of the people is one of fear for civil war or unrest which could break out at any second, as it has numerous times in the past. Despite being in all these dangerous areas, God kept us safe and provided for us every step of the way.
Please continue to pray for the believers who are in these war-torn countries. Pray for the children of the Nuba Mountains who meet for school in buildings that have previously been bombed by the Islamic Arab North. Pray for the teachers who are determined to use the Bibles as part of their school curriculum. Pray for pastors and chaplains as they have a tremendous responsibility to train their people in the Word of God which they have now received. Pray for the future shipments of Bibles – 20 000 for Uganda and 20 000 for South Sudan.
“I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the Throne and before the Lamb… the were shouting with a great roar, ‘Salvation comes from God who sits on the Throne and from the Lamb’”. Revelation 7:9-10
Rev. John Clifford
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021 689 4480
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