Amid Sudan struggles, believers develop new tools to reach the unreached

By December 2, 2019

Sudan (MNN) — Widespread protests in Sudan earlier this year led to long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir’s ouster. Now, the transitional government is trying to keep Sudan’s economy afloat until elections in 2022.

Sudanese believers face monumental challenges too; namely, how to secure religious freedom no matter who comes to power. At the same time, they’re trying to keep ministry moving forward during this limited window of Gospel opportunity.

A Christian worker we’ll call “Ken” collaborates with believers throughout northern Sudan. He’s urging them to keep Sudan’s unreached populations in mind as they plan their “next steps.”

“There [are] about 42 million people in Sudan today. The vast majority of them are Muslim, and have no knowledge or understanding of Jesus Christ at all.”

Decades of oppression under Bashir’s rule earned Sudan harsh sanctions and a Tier 1 “Country of Particular Concern” title from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Read more about persecution in Sudan here.

Conditions like these have made ministry in Sudan extremely difficult. As a result, few people know the Good News of Jesus.

Sudan has a lot of unreached people…

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)

The number of unreached people in Sudan varies widely; for example, the Joshua Project lists 130 unreached people groups (UPGs) or approximately 23,633,000 people. In a file accessed on November 25, Finishing the Task lists 29 unreached and unengaged people groups (UUPGs) in Sudan: approximately 835,400 people.

Ken says many of Sudan’s remaining unreached people groups are “oral communities,” which means they don’t use traditional methods of reading and writing to learn or communicate. More about orality here.

“They have no reason, for the most part, to learn to read and write… certainly, they should not have to wait ‘till that happens before they understand God’s Word and Jesus’s love.”

As explained here, understanding culture is critically important to effective Gospel communication. For example, Egypt and Sudan share some similarities as neighboring nations and fellow members of the North Africa region. However, their individual history and cultures are vastly diverse, so certain evangelism methods might “work” in Sudan but not in Egypt, and vice-versa.

…reaching them requires collaboration

With this in mind, organizations and individual believers are working hard to develop Gospel resources for Sudan’s unreached oral people groups. The process initially began by identifying five of Sudan’s “most influential” languages, Ken explains.

“If we can impact these languages, we will impact the most people groups, and it’ll indirectly or directly affect the entire country of Sudan.”

(Screenshot image courtesy of Prayercast: Sudan)

One initiative focuses on a language spoken by Sudan’s Beja people. “They’re predominantly nomadic and the vast majority, over 90 [percent], cannot read and write,” Ken says. Right now, ministries are working together to translate The JESUS Film into the Beja’s heart language.

“From that, they’ll have the introduction to the message of Jesus Christ. Then, we’ll go into orality. At the end of that process…we’ll have the entire Gospel message for a people group who do not know how to read and write.”

Here’s how you can help

Typically, believers can pray, give, or go to support Kingdom-building initiatives like this. However, when it comes to Sudan, “a lot of the hands-on stuff – because of security issues and danger – is probably not for everybody,” Ken says.

For the same reason, MNN cannot name or describe the ministries behind the projects described above. Even so, there are opportunities to give directly to this effort and, of course, there is an abundant need for prayer. “For instance, choosing a translation team for the oral Bible stories – [if] people around them find out what they’re doing, there’ll be huge negative repercussions,” Ken describes as an example.

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)

“We need to bathe this in prayer over the next two or three years because there’s a lot at stake here.”

Pray for Sudan using prompts listed in the sidebar. You can also use this free video resource from MNN’s sister ministry, Prayercast.

If you would like to give, please let MNN know, and the organization leading this UPG Initiative will be in touch. Last but not least, use the “share” buttons below to post this article on social media and ask fellow believers to surround Sudan in prayer.



Header image depicts shell casings in the Nuba Mountain region. Photo courtesy of VOM USA.

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