“Cush will submit herself to God.” Psalm 68: 31
As Southern Sudan prepares for its historic Secession from the Arab North we need to be reminded of what the Scripture teaches concerning Sudan.
In the Bible, Sudan is referred to as Cush, Nubia and Ethiopia. Often when the Bible mentions a place at the end of the world it would refer to Sudan (e.g.: Psalm 87:4).
2 Kings 19:1-9 and Isaiah 37:1-10 relate how one of the Cushite pharaohs, Tirhakah, intervened to assist King Hezekiah when Israel was attacked by Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria.
Jeremiah 38:7-13 describes how a Sudanese official, Eben-Malech, helped save Jeremiah from certain death when he had been thrown into a cistern. It was Eben-Malech, the Cushite, that pulled Jeremiah the Prophet from the pit.
Nahum 3:9 describes how the Assyrians treated the Egyptian city of Thebes when the Cushites were defeated.
Confusion About Cush
It is regrettable that so much confusion has been created by some Bible translators rendering the Hebrew word Kush with the Greek word Aithiopia. Cush is identified in Ezekiel 29:9-10 as the land south of Aswan, the southernmost border of Egypt, on the Nile.
Ezekiel 29:9-10 prophesies against Egypt:
“Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord. Because He said ‘the Nile is mine; I made it’, therefore I am against you and against your streams and will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.” Ezekiel 29:9-10
Migdol is in the North of Egypt, Aswan is the southernmost town, beyond which lies the land of Cush. Similarly, in Psalm 68:31 Egypt and Cush are referred to as immediate neighbours: “Envoys will come from Egypt; Cush will submit herself to God.”
While Cush is a very specific term, for the people descended from Cush, the grandson of Noah, and refers to the country immediately south of Egypt along the Nile, the Greek work Aithiopia was a very vague term that the ancient Greeks used for any country to the south of their known world. Aithiopia (which comes from the word Aithiops - meaning a black face) was such a general term that the Greeks used it not only for anywhere in Africa, but even India!
So, when the Greek translators in Alexandria, three centuries before Christ, were translating the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, their using the vague term Ethiopiafor the specific Hebrew word Cush, sowed seeds of confusion.
This confusion has been compounded even more now that there is today a country called Ethiopia. But modern day Ethiopia was known as Abyssynia (or Abessinia) until the Second World War, and in the time of the Bible was referred to as Axum.
Envoys from Cush
The great prophesy on Cush in Isaiah 18 plainly refers to what we today know as Sudan. “Woe to the land of wirring wings along the rivers of Cush, which sends envoys by sea in papyrus boats over the water.” Isaiah 18:1-2
Sudan has been the land of Biblical plagues, where the locusts came down upon Egypt. And Sudan has sent envoys on boats by water (down the Nile River or down the Red Sea) to Jerusalem. This included Eben-Malech, who saved Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:7-13), and the treasurer of Queen Candice (Acts 8:26-40).
The Ethiopian eunuch, the treasurer of Queen Candice who ruled Meroe (present day Northern Sudan), had gone to Jerusalem to worship and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah. The Spirit of the Lord led the deacon Phillip away from the Revival in Samaria to this remote desert road to Gaza. Phillip ran up to the chariot and heard the Cushite reading Isaiah the Prophet.
“Do you understand what you are reading?” he asked. “How can I, unless someone guides me? “The Cushite asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he was reading was: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” Acts 8:32-33
The eunuch asked Phillip “of whom does the Prophet say this, of himself or some other man?” Then Phillip began at this Scripture to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ to him. And so, the Ethiopian eunuch came back to the kingdom of Meroe, in Northern Sudan, not only with the Book of Isaiah in his hands, but with Jesus Christ in his heart - a newly baptized Christian convert. So the history of the church in Sudan begins in AD 37, in Acts chapter 8, with a portion of Scripture, the Book of Isaiah itself. (Axum, or what became Abyssinia, received the Gospel from the Apostle Matthew, who was martyred there at Nadabah, in AD60.)
A War Like People
“Go swift messengers, to a people tall and smooth skinned, to a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech whose land is divided by rivers.” Isaiah 18:2
The Sudanese are a tall people, a smooth skinned people, with a violent history. There was a time when the Cushites conquered Egypt – which had been the superpower of its day. To the Egyptians, Sudan was known as the land of Cush – the source of ivory, incense, ebony, gold and slaves. Sudan was subjected to numerous Egyptian trading and raiding forays until the 8 th century BC. Then Cush grew to be a great power and, under their king Piankhi, the Cushites conquered Egypt in 712 BC. The Assyrians later invaded and seized Egypt from Cushite control in 671 BC. The Romans invaded Northern Sudan in 23 BC. With 800 cavalry and 10,000 infantry, the Romans attacked the capital of Napata, but the Romans were forced to withdraw in AD 297.
When the Islamic armies attacked Nubia in AD 643, the Nubians steadfastly resisted and threw back the invaders. Again in AD 652 another Muslim offensive which sought to conquer Nubia was defeated by the Christians. The Muslims were thrown back into Egypt.
From the time when the Cushites invaded Israel under King Asa, and when the Cushites came to the support of King Hezekiah against the Assyrians, to the centuries of resistance against Islamic invasion from Egypt, to the uprising of the Mahdi in the 19 th century, to the fifty year civil war just ended, the Sudanese have proved to be exactly as the Scriptures describe: “A people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation…”
And Sudan is truly the “land divided by rivers.” The Nile, one of the greatest rivers in the world, stretches the full length of Sudan. From the source of the White Nile in Lake Victoria, it takes a drop of water four months to travel the over 4,000 kilometres to the Mediterranean Sea. While present day Ethiopia is a mountainous and desert land, Sudan is the land of Cush referred to in the Bible here in Isaiah 18. The Blue and White Nile and their tributaries provide tremendous logistical challenges for missionaries and other travellers to cross these phenomenal obstacles.
The Banner and Trumpet
“All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.” Isaiah 18:3
The Scriptures declare that something of worldwide significance is going to happen in Sudan. That all people on earth must take note of. What could possibly be of such significance in this remote and vast country that Christians as far afield as Australia and America, South Africa and Switzerland should pay attention to?
Sudan is the largest country in Africa and it has just emerged from the grip of the longest war of the 20 th century. Sudan contains the oldest community of Christians in Africa - who have suffered some of the worst persecutions in the world. Yet the Christian church in Sudan has been growing faster than anywhere else in Africa, with more Muslims coming to Christ in Sudan than almost anywhere else.
Sudan is in the 10-40 Window, the most neglected and needy mission field on earth (stretching from the 10 th to the 40 th degrees latitude in the Northern hemisphere.) In that 10-40 window stretching from the Atlantic across the Middle East and South Central Asia to the Pacific, are over three billion non-Christians - the most needy and resistant mission fields in the world. The final missions frontier.
In the 10-40 Window the Muslim Middle East provides the greatest challenges for the fulfillment of The Great Commission. And in the Muslim Middle East there are only three countries with millions of Christians: Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan. Sudan was the last country to become Islamic. It could be the first country in Africa to be freed from Islam. There are millions of Christians in Sudan who speak Arabic, many of whom used to be Muslims. Sudan could be a missionary bridgehead for the spiritual liberation of the Middle East.
The Bible says that when the enemy comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard to which the righteous can repair. The Christian flag is being raised on the Nuba Mountains and across South Sudan. Christians in South Sudan are marching and gathering under the Cross of Christ.
In the Book of Nehemiah, when Jerusalem was under attack, the trumpet would sound and rally the forces to concentrate on the threatened area. Frontline Fellowship has been sounding the trumpet to alert Christians worldwide to the sufferings, courage and tenacity of the Christian church under fire in Sudan. Through thousands of radio and TV programmes and public meetings worldwide, and through newsletters, magazine articles, books, e-mails and websites, Frontline Fellowship, and other missions who have joined us in this field, have been sounding the trumpet.
“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you yourselves are in the Body also.” Hebrews 13:3
Africa’s Forgotten War
“This is what the Lord says to me: I will remain quiet and look on from My dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”Isaiah 18:4
For a long time Christians in Sudan felt alone and abandoned. “We are a hidden people fighting a forgotten war”, I heard time and again. It has been so important to let them know: You are not alone. You are not forgotten. There are many who are praying and who care enough to have sent us with these gifts for you.
A Harvest of Death
“For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, He will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches. They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey and to the wild animals; the birds will feed on them all summer, the wild animals all winter.” Isaiah 18:5-6
The relentless scorched earth campaign of the National Islamic Front government, which declared Jihad against the Christian South and the Nuba Mountains, brought tremendous suffering. Bibles were banned, villages were burned, churches destroyed, pastors crucified, livestock looted, crops burned, wells poisoned, children enslaved. At times the death toll was so great that there were not enough people left to bury the dead. Vultures and scavengers did indeed feast on the slain in Sudan.
Revival Amidst Persecution
“At that time gifts would be brought to the Lord Almighty from a people tall and smooth skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers – the gifts would be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 18:7
There has been Revival amidst persecution in Sudan. Tremendous sacrifices have been made. Like the Nuba Church in Kauda which, within a 12 month period, endured 18 aerial bombardments from the Sudan Air Force. Yet the people continued to gather, and overflow their church, for Sunday worship. The cathedral in Lui, the birthplace of Christianity in Moruland, was bombed ten times. Three times the cathedral was destroyed, yet each time rebuilt and restored and filled with joyful Christians bringing a sacrifice of praise.
Despite having arms amputated and feet axed off at the ankles, Sudanese evangelists have continued to take the Gospel to their neighbours. The Lord Jesus declared:“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13
Surviving and Thriving
The people of Cush have been submitting themselves to God. There has been tremendous church growth in South Sudan. Some pastors have reported adding over 8,000 people to their churches in just three years. Numerous pastors have multiple congregations to care for. The resilient Christians of Sudan have stood steadfast against the onslaught of Islamic Jihad. They have been a bulwark holding up the southward expansion of Islam in Africa. Straddling the Nile, these Christian tribes had frustrated the ambitions of IslamicJihadists in Khartoum. Not only has the church in Sudan survived the furious fires of persecution, but they have thrived, even winning some of their enemies to Christ.
“From beyond the rivers of Cush My worshippers, My scattered people will bring Me offerings.” Zephaniah 3:10
A Frontline for Faith and Freedom
The Lord began to place Sudan heavy on my heart almost 30 years ago. Since 1987 Frontline Fellowship News has been publishing articles alerting Christians to the fight for Faith and freedom in Sudan. Since 1995 I conducted 27 mission trips into Sudan, some for a month at a time. Together, Frontline missionaries have completed over 75 missions to Sudan.
We have had the privilege of delivering and distributing over 500,000 Bibles and Christian books, in 23 languages, throughout fifteen regions of Sudan. We have also been able to deliver many tons of medicines, food, agricultural tools, seed and other essential supplies, to the Christians in South Sudan, and to our beleaguered brethren in the Nuba Mountains.
Even more strategically, we have been able to train many hundred pastors, medics, chaplains and teachers in South Sudan. Our book, Faith Under Fire in Sudan, has gone through three editions. We assisted Jeremiah Films in producing Sudan – The Hidden Holocaustand Terrorism and Persecution – Understanding Islamic Jihad, as well as other filmmakers who produced documentaries on Sudan.
We had the privilege of introducing Samaritans Purse to Sudan and helping them establish the hospital in Lui which treated many hundreds of thousands of patients and saved countless lives. Our mission also had the joy of transporting and assisting Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors teams and many other ministries and churches visiting Sudan. The Terrorism and Persecution film includes footage from the CBN film crew that we were transporting, along with A Voice of the Martyrs team, when our vehicle was stuck crossing a flooded river near the battle front.
The Darfur Diversion
It is quite remarkable that such a vast amount of media attention was given to the suffering of Muslims in Darfur while completely ignoring the vastly greater and much longer tragedy of Islamic Jihad against the Christians of Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. Approximately two million people, most of these Christians, died in the 50 years Jihad against the Christians of South Sudan.
Yet the news media showed little interest, and the UN and Western governments did comparatively little for the Christian victims of Jihad in Southern Sudan. However, for some reason, the low intensity conflict in Western Sudan in Darfur has received enormous worldwide media and government attention.
Darfur is a 99% Muslim area in Western Sudan. What was going on in Darfur was Muslim on Muslim violence. It was typical Arab banditry that has been going on for centuries. In this case Muslim Arabs were fighting against Muslim blacks. The Christians that we serve in South Sudan, Northern Nigeria and other parts of Africa, are somewhat cynical about this pointing out that it seems the West are only concerned for Muslims and never Christians.
The West was tremendously concerned for Muslims in Bosnia, Muslims in Kuwait, Muslims in Somalia, Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Muslims in Darfur. However, the West stood by while hundreds of thousands of Christians were slaughtered in Rwanda, and in South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. The point made is that it would seem that the world media, and the UN, would only mobilize international campaigns to support Muslim victims, seldom Christians.
Another point worth noting is that the black Muslims of Darfur have traditionally been some of the worst slave raiders, guilty of many of the worst atrocities committed against Christians in Bar-el-Ghazal, and the Nuba Mountains. When General Charles Gordon travelled to Sudan in the 19 th century, he saw that the worst slave raids came from the Darfur Muslims. At that time he noted that seven out of every eight black people in Sudan were slaves.
Leadership and LiteratureFrontline Fellowship’s present priorities in Sudan are Leadership Training and Literature. Especially Textbooks for Teachers. We have helped establish Christian schools, trained school teachers and provided over 5,000 Christian textbooks, and many more Bibles, for use in over 100 schools. We are also helping to equip and establish a Bible College in South Sudan.
Please continue to pray for the people of Cush, in the land divided by rivers, that they may win their enemies to Christ and be a missionary bridgehead for the evangelising of the Muslim Middle East.
“From beyond the rivers of Cush, My worshippers, My scattered people will bring Me offerings.” Zephaniah 3:10
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
FAITH UNDER FIRE IN SUDAN
“What a story, what courage to obtain it, what determination it displays about the Sudanese Christians who do not succumb to Islam in its cruelest and worst manifestation in the world today! Would what Christians around the world were to read this sobering account and support our brothers and sisters in the Faith in prayer, publicity and practical help… Faith Under Fire in Sudan is a vital publication … it deserves a global distribution.” Patrick Johnstone, WEC Missionary, Author of “Operation World”, England
Frontline Fellowship’s best selling book on Africa’s forgotten war is available again. This new, much expanded and thoroughly revised third edition is 320 pages and includes over 200 pictures and maps. Faith Under Fire takes you behind the lines of one of the longest wars of recent years, and introduces you to the unforgettable Christian heroes of this colossal conflict.
“Christians everywhere need to be reading Faith Under Fire in Sudan, by Dr. Peter Hammond.” Dr. D James Kennedy , President of Evangelism Explosion International and author of “What if Jesus had Never Been Born?”, USA
“Faith Under Fire in Sudan is the most important and well documented book I have ever read on Sudan... It is a book that cannot be ignored.” Dr. Paul Negrut , Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Oradea, Romania
“Congratulations on your book on Sudan! God is using it both to raise awareness and to generate prayer.” Dr. Tokunboh Adeyemo , General Secretary of Association of Evangelists in Africa (AEA), Kenya
”Peter Hammond’s Faith Under Fire in Sudan is a thrilling account of the power of the Christian Gospel to make Christ’s little ones into heroes. Especially Christians in the West need to read this book and to note its message.” Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee , Queensland Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Brisbane, Australia
“Faith Under Fire in Sudan is an important document for Christians of all denominations at this time n the history of our continent... Peter Hammond has done us all a service in focusing our eyes on the Sudan. This long neglected area requires our urgent attention.” Bishop Frank Retief , Church of England in South Africa, Author of “Tragedy to Triumph”, South Africa
”This book is part of an extraordinary effort to publicize the perilous plight of persecuted Christians in Sudan, and to mobilize international pressure against the persecutors.” - Rev. Bill Bathman , Chairman of the Board, Frontline Fellowship, USA
The price for Soft cover is R105 and R175 for Hard. All prices exclude postage. The price outside of South Africa for Soft Cover is US$15 and US$25 for Hard Covers. All prices exclude postage.
Faith Under Fire in Sudan is available from:
Christian Liberty Books
P.O. Box 358 Howard Place 7450
Cape Town South Africa
Those in North America can obtain resources from:
Frontline Fellowship – USA