Sudan (MNN) — Anticipation is building as election officials in Sudan are ramping up
for a key vote that could determine the peace of a nation.
In just 21 days, as
part of a 2005 peace deal, voters in southern Sudan will decide whether to
secede from the North. "Polling places are being established inside
Sudan; absentee ballots are being distributed. There's a crescendo of activity
pointing toward January 9."
Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope says everyone is aware of the weight
of this decision. Already, believers in
neighboring countries are organizing in solidarity. "There are large prayer meeting gatherings
where the focus of the prayer meeting is to intercede on behalf of the people
of South Sudan. Many prayers are arising especially in neighboring
countries, including Kenya and Uganda."
The tensions could erupt if either side refuses to
accept the outcome of the vote. Prayer
is the best preparation for peace. "If the outcome is for separating, [pray] that the
government of the north will accept the will of the South Sudanese people, and
that the arrangements that ensue will take place in a peaceful atmosphere."
If violence blows up, it could be more than one deadly month. "The January 9 referendum, if it is in favor of separation,
would be implemented six months later, in July."
At stake is a loss of power and the South's oil
resources. Observers say there are already reports of coercion and threats
because, as DeYoung says, "From all signs,
it does seem as if most of the people, by a large margin of South Sudan,
intend to vote in favor of becoming
their own country."
Church leaders are calling upon Christians everywhere to
pray for a peaceful referendum. The
radio broadcasts are tailoring their content toward this message, too. "Words
of Hope programs continue to point toward the referendum. The Words of Hope
programs in Dinka, Nuer and Bari are focusing increasingly on themes of peace
and reconciliation drawn from Scripture."
The Gospel message is echoed in the evangelistic work of the
local church bodies. "These, we hope, will be complementing the
work of many churches so that the tendency and the history for tribal conflict
might give way."
An historic moment is three weeks away, sure to be one of
the biggest news events of 2011. Keep
praying for peace. Ask God to give
believers wisdom as they navigate the days ahead in a time of change. There is more information about the Words of
Hope broadcasts here.