|The Gospel vs. Jihad in Sudan|
Sudan is a most strategic country for missions. Sudan is the only country in the Muslim Middle East with millions of evangelical Christians. Muslims are coming to Christ in Sudan by the thousands. Sudan was the last country to become Islamic. By God's grace it could be the first Islamic country to be won back to Christ! The Church now faces the final missions frontier of the 10-40 Window – the block of Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist nations in North Africa and Asia between the tenth and fortieth degrees latitude. Frontline Fellowship is on the cutting edge of the great missionary thrust to storm this stronghold of false religion.
During 1997 Frontline Fellowship mission teams made 13 mission trips into Sudan delivering and distributing over 60 000 Bibles and Christian books in 17 languages inside Sudan.
Just during 1997, Frontline missionaries conducted over 550 church and chaplaincy services and leadership training lectures inside Sudan. This included conducting two Medical Training Courses, a Pastors Training Course and a Secondary School Teachers Training Course. Frontline Fellowship teams also delivered tonnes of medical relief aid into Sudan and established a Medical Clinic near the battlefront of what is the longest war of this century.
During the last 4 months of 1997, three Frontline Fellowship teams were involved in one of the most logistically complex, challenging and dangerous series of mission trips ever undertaken. For one team it involved driving 20 000 km (12,400 miles) overland over some of the most difficult stretches of road, through flooded rivers, through equatorial rain forests in torrential rain, and through the gauntlets of terrorist infested ambush alleys. It also involved flying far behind enemy lines into Central Sudan to deliver a tonne of Bibles to the beleaguered Christians of the Nuba Mountains.
Complicating these outreaches and projects were the political upheavals and civil unrest in countries through which they had to travel in order to reach Sudan. Zambia had declared martial law in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt. There were innumerable roadblocks to negotiate. Kenya had a state of emergency and regular riots. At one point, riot police were even storming into churches and beating up ministers who had been preaching against corruption. Uganda continues to have a serious problem with the LRA terrorist attacks in the North. During one month the LRA murdered 200 travellers on the one road along which our teams have to travel in order to reach the newly liberated areas of Southern Sudan!
And only after overcoming all these obstacles did the real mission begin – of evangelising in the war zones of Sudan!
“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4
The Lord Jesus ordered Simon Peter to do something he could do – launch out. And then He told him to do something he could not do – fill his nets. Peter was sceptical – they had worked hard all night and hadn't caught anything. Yet in obedience to the Lord, the big fisherman launched out yet again.
When they had done so they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink (Luke 5:6-7).
This has been our experience in the largest country in Africa, Sudan. When the Lord impressed upon us the necessity of responding to the desperate needs in this officially Islamic country it certainly seemed that we were launching out into deep waters!
Since 1955 the Muslim Arab North has been waging a cruel war against the mostly Christian Black South. Since 1964 all missionary work in Southern Sudan has been illegal. The first Frontline mission team I sent up to Sudan came back after 4 months in neighbouring countries and Sudan. They reported that there were no Protestant missionaries in Southern Sudan. No Bibles were available in any of the local languages. The United Nations enforced a ban on Bibles on flights to Sudan. The roads were impossible, especially in the rainy season. The terror bombing of civilian centres was intense. The general consensus of mission groups based in Kenya was that Bible distribution and evangelism in war-torn Southern Sudan was not only illegal, and highly dangerous, but impossible!
I couldn't accept that and so I headed off personally to obey what I was convinced was God's guidance to minister inside Sudan. In neighbouring Kenya I found the big missions who were meant to be inside Sudan had all their people in Nairobi. And the few field staff they had were in Lokichoggio (the UN base in Northern Kenya) which they termed “the field.” One mission executive told me that it was “impossible” to work inside Sudan. He maintained that the only way to help the Sudanese was by airdrops (rolling pallets of food out the back of C-130 transport aircraft at 300 feet!) “With a human being you can reason – but not with the Sudanese. They will kill you as soon as look at you. They have no respect for life. It's anarchy in there, a free fire zone.” He was adamant.
It was therefore with great trepidation that I launched out into “the deep waters” of war ravaged Sudan. Yet I soon was overwhelmed by the responsiveness of the people to the Bibles we smuggled in and the leadership training courses we presented. The Lord filled our nets to breaking point.
I wrote hundreds of articles and letters on Sudan, spoke hundreds of times on radio and at churches about Sudan and produced videos and the book “Faith Under Fire in Sudan”, urging others to join us in ministering to the suffering in Sudan. We praise God that some other missions have responded to the challenge. Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs and Samaritan's Purse have also let down their nets and, like us, have found their boats sinking under the incredible, desperate needs. The harvest truly is large and the workers are all too few.
Yes, many bridges are down. The roads are punishing on both vehicles and people. The climate is oppressively hot. The swarms and variety of flying, crawling and biting insects are formidable. There is an ever present threat of malaria, river blindness, guinea worm, typhoid, dysentery and a host of other tropical diseases. High flying bombers and low flying helicopter gunship attacks are very real dangers as are land mines. Bibles are banned. Missionaries are illegal. The country is at war. Nevertheless, Frontline Fellowship has proven over and over again that it is possible to deliver Bibles, to conduct leadership training courses and minister through church services inside Southern Sudan. As we have launched out in faith, the Lord has blessed our labours with unimaginable success.
So far Frontline Fellowship has completed 27 mission trips into Sudan delivering and distributing over 80 000 Bibles and Christian books in 21 languages. We have conducted over 800 leadership training lectures, and church and chaplaincy services inside Sudan. This has included three Medical Training Courses, four Pastors Training Courses and a Teachers Training Course.
We can only praise God for His provision, guidance and protection which have enabled our missionaries to break all records in doing what the experts were all agreed was “impossible”!
By ministering to body, mind and spirit, investing in love in action, literature distribution and leadership training, we are strengthening the Christians in Sudan to not only survive the severe persecution but to win their persecutors to Christ. We are making disciples of the emerging New Sudan. You can have a part in helping make history in the Middle East. We can roll back the southward expansion of Islam and reclaim Sudan for Christ. Please join us in prayer and action as we continue to launch out and fill our nets.
“Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Luke 4:19