Sudan (MNN) — The re-election of Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has brought with it two dubious distinctions.
Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says, "They are calling this the first open elections in 24 years in the country of Sudan. That may be a little bit of a misnomer since the two primary opponents pulled out before the election even happened."
Now, Nettleton says, "This is now the only sitting head of state in the world who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes." He's wanted in connection to the Darfur genocide.
Reports suggest Bashir took 68-percent of a vote, which was criticized as falling well below international standards. "However," Nettleton says, "it appears most of the world's countries will recognize the results and say, 'Yes, Bashir is still the president.'"
In the country's semi-autonomous southern region there was an overwhelming endorsement of Salva Kiir, who is expected to lead the south to independence next year. That vote may bring with it more trouble. "Bashir says he will recognize whatever the will of the people of the south is as put forward in that election. However, when push comes to shove, it'll be interesting to see if he does that."
There are oil fields along the proposed border between the north and the south. "The oil fields produce a huge amount of revenue for the country," say Nettleton.
Sudan's north is home to mostly Arab Muslims, while the south is mostly Christian and non-Muslim. Nettleton says, "It is thought that if that country pulls away, it will offer a little more religious freedom and more protection for the Christians; but again, that assumes that there's a peaceful division in the country and that it doesn't result in more civil war."
Nettleton says while that conflict is speculative, many people need help from the past. That's why Voice of the Martyrs is providing Action Packs, humanitarian aid packages. "There are still people who are rebuilding from the decades of civil war, and so those humanitarian aid and action packs can really be a blessing to them as they kind of rebuild their lives."
You provide the contents of the Action Packs. "You send us $7 — we send you an Action Pack bag, which is a vacuum sealed plastic bag. It has a list of items on the outside for you to place inside. You send it back to us, and we put it on a shipping container and send it to Sudan."
Action Packs typically include hygiene items, clothing, blankets, and once it arrives in Sudan, a copy of the book, He Walked Among Us — a picture Bible about the story of Jesus.
Action packs can be a key part of that process. "When Christians receive an Action Pack, they pass on part of the materials to Muslim friends and neighbors, and often times that copy of He Lived Among Us can be used to present the Gospel to the people around them."
During times of uncertainty, Nettleton says, "They're thinking about spiritual things. They're thinking about eternal things. And I think it can be a time when we see people come to Christ and see revival."