Sudan (MNN) — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a report last month detailing the humanitarian situation in Sudan. Certain areas assessed, such as Central Darfur, have been inaccessible for this kind of surveillance for the last several years.
One finding in the report noted, in total, 173,973 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition from January to September this year. They expect to treat 250,000 children by the end of the year.
According to the CIA World Factbook, 33 percent of Sudanese children five-years-old and younger are underweight. The degree of risk to major infectious diseases is rated “very high”, contributed to by a common lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities.
In addition to the prevalent humanitarian needs, Sudan is known for its religious restrictions and persecution of minorities, especially Christians.
Dr. Jason Peters, Associate Vice President of The Voice of the Martyrs, USA says, “Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, is the only sitting president in the world indicted by the International Criminal Court, and yet he’s still able to serve as president. He’s wreaking havoc on Christians in the south — particularly the Nuba Mountains, the Blue Nile region — [with] incredible tax on persecution, ethnic cleansing, all kinds of things happening there.”
During one of Dr. Peters’ visits to Sudan, he witnessed first-hand what Sudanese Christians live with on a daily basis.
“In the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan, there are literally bombings every single day from the Sudanese air force [as it] flies overhead. I was there, I literally had to crawl into a foxhole four times in a week. I was out in the bush for a week, no power, no running water with these villagers. When the bombers come, every plane that’s in the air they know is a bad guy. So the children, they know when they see a plane, they need to hide because they’ve seen their friends killed. They’ve seen their family members killed.
“In fact, while we were there, a 13-year-old boy was killed. An aircraft came overhead, they tried to get into a foxhole, he didn’t make it in time and he was decapitated by one of these bombs from Sudan.”
It is a dangerous and horrifying reality. Yet, Dr. Peters says God is moving in miraculous ways in Sudan.
He shares, “I was just there last year and had a chance to meet with some incredible pastors. I want to tell you a story of a pastor friend of mine named Moses. He’s an amazing guy. He told me some stories of God just intervening in remarkable ways. One of the stories he told me was this group of soldiers captured some pastors that were at a meeting and they began to take them away into the bush. It’s not uncommon for pastors to be killed in these situations, so it was a very scary time for everybody.
“Pastor Moses said while they were detaining them…a swarm of bees came out of nowhere and started attacking these Sudanese soldiers. Meanwhile, the pastors are there and they’re not getting touched by the bees, but the bees are attacking these other soldiers. They were so distracted, the soldiers were, that the pastors were actually able to run away and they escaped from this attack!”
Ultimately, Sudanese believers are persevering in their faith and witness.
“They know they could escape that oppression if they went to a town like Kaduqli and said, ‘Okay, I want to become a Muslim.’ Then they’re fine, they’re safe, and they’re welcome in that area. But as long as they stay with Jesus, they’re going to be persecuted.”
Dr. Peters encourages us to remember to pray, not just for our Sudanese Christian brothers and sisters, but with them. It’s all about empathy and the Body of Christ.
“I love what Ray Vander Laan says. He says, ‘If you’re hanging a picture on the wall and you hit your finger with a hammer, you would never say that I’m not suffering, just my finger is suffering.’ We don’t detach ourselves from that. That’s a part of us, that’s a part of our body. So when it suffers, we suffer.”
Dr. Peters asks, “Pray for our brothers and sisters there to just have strength and endurance. There’s really a lot of perseverance required when every single day you’re undergoing attacks…. I would [also] ask people to really pray, ‘Lord, how can I be faithful where I live?’ Because that’s what they want us to pray for them.”