Simplicity is ‘wishful thinking’ in a place like Sudan

By February 18, 2020

Sudan (MNN) — Sudan’s so-called “solution” seems simple: remove U.S. sanctions so the beleaguered nation can recover from years of economic hardship. The UN Secretary-General said as much last week, claiming it’s time to mobilize international support to help Sudan overcome its challenges.

Recent developments affirm the idea. Leaders are “discussing rapid normalization” of relations between Israel and Sudan, once long-time foes. On Thursday, Sudan’s interim government settled with families of the victims of a 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Sudan was accused of providing support to al-Qaida, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

Steps like these may sound like progress, but Wycliffe Associates President Bruce Smith says tribalism is a tough mindset to change in Sudan.

“The complexity of the cultural and linguistic situation reflects how complex it’s going to be to rally that country in a unified direction anytime in the short term.”

Why is Sudan so complicated?

Removing former president Omar al-Bashir is but one piece of a multifaceted puzzle. More than 100 languages reflect Sudan’s diverse people groups and tribes, each carrying its own complexities and challenges. “Within the country, you have lots of different factions that are vying for their own survival and their own place in the nation,” Smith explains.

(Stock photo courtesy of Pixabay)

“The removal of one person who’s at the head makes a significant difference in terms of the direction that everyone is being led,” he continues. “But, once that person is removed, there’s lots of movement going on among power brokers.”

In other words, people who used to be in powerful positions under Bahir’s rule “now find themselves on the outside,” Smith says. And, “people previously on the ‘outside’ now want to [be] on the ‘inside’,” he says.

“We’d love to see it make things easier for Christian witness and ministry to take place in that country. But, it’s pretty early in the process to really know.”

Wycliffe Associates’ main mission is to provide access to God’s Word. As a ministry that’s adapted to the test of persecution in Sudan, that mission has meant introducing portable Bible translation equipment. More about Wycliffe Associates’ work here.

“We really believe that the truth of Scripture is the only light that’s going to dispel the darkness,” Smith says.

“The Bible has the power to change people’s hearts from the inside out, and supersede all of these generations of strife and violence that has gone on between these different tribal groups over the years.”

How to help

Pray God’s Word will change hearts and break down barriers among the Sudanese. Sign up for our daily email to stay “in the know” on these issues and more.

“The political and economic movements that are going on in the world have an impact on the progress of the Gospel. We can see them either as threats or as opportunities,” Smith observes.

“God uses all of these things and redeems them in ways that we often can’t anticipate.”

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