Sudan (MNN) – As we begin 2019, there’s a sense of urgency energizing those who have committed to a Vision2020—a church planting movement sweeping the world.
What does that look like? Sustainable churches in the unreached neighborhoods in cities and least-reached and unreached areas around the world. What it means is that more ministries, churches, and leaders are going to have to partner together in some of the hardest-to-reach countries.
Hardest-to-reach by locale or by freedom? As it turns out, it’s a little bit of both. In some places, the Church is under fire, facing persecution, harassment or oppression that makes engaging people with the Gospel exceedingly dangerous. Still, this is a common theme expressed by workers on the ground.
“(There are) a lot of challenges we think have impact, but we are depending on the grace of the Lord helping us when we started in 2014. (We are) now seeing very good results. God is at work. He is in front of us.” These are the thoughts of one Christian worker in Sudan. We can’t share his name or the name of his ministry because of the risk of exposing his network. The U.S. State Department’s Religious Freedom Report notes the arbitrary application of Sharia law in Sudan can create a climate of fear that provides the government and security forces another lever of power.
Hope spurs impossible dreams
In fact, in 2012, Sudan’s President, Omar al Bashir, promised the next constitution would be ‘100% Islamic’. What followed over the next six years was a systemic wave of persecution that has led to the closures or demolitions of hundreds of churches, arrests of church leaders, detentions, beatings and death. In areas with ongoing conflict, Christians are attacked indiscriminately.
In spite of this, the Christian worker we spoke to insists that God is moving in big ways in Sudan. In fact, the followers of Christ are taking a big step of faith on Vision2020. The bigger picture focuses on planting 10-thousand new churches by the year 2020. “Our part, as the country of Sudan, we have(committed to) about 4,000 churches, and small house groups (that) we pray to be planted by the year 2020.”
Given the scrutiny Christians face in Sudan, how is this possible? The Christian worker we spoke to emphasized the supernatural aspect of big vision in an aggressive environment. “Pray for the safety while they are moving from place to place. Pray for some needs and accommodations in some areas, because Sudan is a very big country. (We’re) praying for transportation and equipment that will help us to do this (work).”
When asked what the takeaway from this story should be for the average Christian, he said God is at work. Tribes that have been closed off to the hope of Christ are now starting to question their beliefs after witnessing the violence done to others by extremists. “They realize that this religion that they have is not the ‘real’ one. They’re still looking for another option. We, as Christians, have this powerful message of love and care and it really touches the lives of people. Many of them come to know Christ.”
One year to reach seemingly impossible goals. 365 days to watch God work…and it starts with someone saying ‘Yes’ to God. “100-percent, we are depending on God’s hand. The prayers can make a big difference; that will work, because really, we need His power backing us while we are going this year to see His fruit.”
Headline photo courtesy of Prayercast.