Sudan (MNN) — We’ve covered some of the recent changes sweeping Sudan: from a coup that removed a 30-year dictator Omar al Bashir from office to a constitutional amendment which removes Sharia law as its primary source.
It’s a monumental shift, but hearing it from the Sudanese themselves provides some perspective on just how significant these changes are. We had the chance to speak with Amos, a missionary who has a passion for the Arab world, working in Sudan and South Sudan.
Something’s different in Sudan
The first inklings of change came when a team with whom he worked was trying to work out logistics for Sudan’s church leaders to attend a conference. Up until now, the government’s red tape for these leaders to leave the country was significant. “Prior to this time, they had to scrutinize all the people traveling, because of the Islamic state of Sudan. Any Christian group traveling out, they check them out. And then when they come back, they further monitor them. When they come back, they have to report.”
However, because the new government established a ministry office for church affairs and plans to loosen government restrictions on churches, the conference team decided to try something new. “When we were planning the conference, we thought of how to avoid all these immigration things. We thought we would fly them to Juba and then from Juba to Nairobi, but then we said, ‘let them fly directly from Khartoum to Nairobi.’ To our amazement, all these Christian leaders flew from Khartoum to Nairobi without any problem.”
Working while the sun shines
A full delegation of Sudanese attending a Christian conference was rare. However, the potential that the delegation’s attendance represented excited Amos and the conference team. “We were able to give them tools that will help them in their church planting work among the unreached people groups– like audio Bibles, microSD cards, (and the) JESUS Film.” What’s more, says Amos, “They took all these things inside the country without any problems. Wow. This has never happened before.”
The message changed, too. Emboldened by the success of equipping these church leaders, the focus became: “‘ You can reach your people who have not yet heard the Gospel!’ As you know, Sudan has the largest number of unreached people groups in Africa.” Amos says this is the time for the global Church to help the churches of Sudan, to equip them, and empower them to reach the unreached people groups of Sudan with the Gospel. Amos explains that this is a short window of opportunity. “The next three years (are) very, very critical for the work of God in Sudan. What is happening now has never happened before. I believe that is because of years of prayers for Sudan.”
Praying for the future
The transitional government plans to rule for a couple years before holding a presidential election. That means in three years, Sudan faces another general election. Nobody knows what will happen then. However, to prove its dedication to change, “The government organized a workshop, inviting the church leaders to discuss how the churches can be involved in the development, social development, and nation-building of Sudan. This has never happened in the history of Sudan.”
Amos says for the government to invite church leaders to discuss their role in a new Sudan is a huge answer to prayer. It also comes with challenges. “We need to pray for the church leaders to be one because the past government betrayed the church, so they are divided.”
Restoring trust, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the body of Christ in Sudan won’t be a simple fix, says Amos. However, going from despair to hope in the space of 12 months gives the followers of Christ great boldness and confidence in approaching the throne of Grace. He invites you to pray with him along these lines: “I think now, the Church of Sudan must begin to be the light and salt that Jesus says we are as followers of Him and then to pray for this transition government, that the Lord will put His fear upon their hearts, as the leadership that they will pursue truth and justice that will bring unity.”
(Image courtesy Marco Verch (trendingtopics)/Flickr/CC)