Sudan/Egypt (MNN) — When you meet with exiled Christians from Sudan, they’re less interested in talking about persecution than they are in what God is doing.
Clarification: persecution exists in North Sudan… It’s one of 12 countries in the world that have a law on the books for either defaming Islam or conversion from Islam, both of which are punishable by death. It’s not that they don’t care about persecution, because it has cost most followers of Christ dearly. But, for every experience of terror, there is an answering extraordinary tale of faith. Take, for example, Pastor Ibraham.
His story begins in atheism. In 1987, someone in Sudan introduced him to Christ. He was so excited about sharing his life-changing story that he started a church in his home. That led to working with an evangelical church in Bahrain, and then studies at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon.
Through a translator, Pastor Ibraham says while he was studying in Lebanon, God called him to something unique. “From the time I was studying, I had the vision that Cush should return to God. My vision is to encourage pastors and help them to discover that they have a role in missions to share the Message with everyone.”
He returned to Sudan in 2013 to lay the groundwork for that idea, and then graduated seminary the following year. Why choose Cush? Isaiah 11:11 says:
“In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.”
It was a scope of ministry. He was equipped with the tools to not only explain the message of hope, but also to mentor others who were following Christ. Pastor Ibraham kept busy encouraging church leaders, training, teaching the Bible, as well as doing church planting and discipleship. “I was doing all of that until (recently) when I had some problems with security in Sudan and was forced to come to Egypt, and have moved to Egypt now.”
Suddenly, the scope was clearer than it had ever been before. He found the thousands of Sudanese who had taken refuge in Egypt from the fighting in Darfur or the Nuba Mountain campaigns. “In Sudan, they would be scared to say anything or ask any questions. But here, they can ask questions, they can be open, they can even, if they have seeds of faith they can let themselves be known so they can be in a discipleship group. That didn’t happen in Sudan.”
It’s hard to be discouraged hearing about what God is doing among the Sudanese, displaced or at home. Sometimes Sudanese believers face hardship in their new home. Certainly, they face oppression or even exile from the land of their birth.
“The servants in Sudan, the priests and the pastors they really want to serve, they really love the Lord — but there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of challenges, and a lot of persecution from the Sudanese Security, so they continue in the ministry, but they don’t have any freedom.”
But to a man, every leader like Pastor Ibraham asks for prayer, not only that their faith increases, but also that they will be bold in sharing it. “There are a lot of challenges in ministry, and often the government removes them as leaders, and so they’re forced to lead in house churches. They need prayer, they need support and encouragement, and they need help with the costs of doing ministry — they do it out of their own pocket.”
What the rest of us see from the outside of their nation is a glimpse of God’s glory.