Suffering in Sudan
November 1, 2003 - The African country of Sudan has been in a civil war for 20 years as the Muslim government in the north wages war on Christians in the south. More than 2 million people have died, many of them helpless civilians. Ken Isaacs, projects director for Samaritan's Purse, spoke with "Decision" about the situation in Sudan and the work of Samaritan's Purse there.
by Kristen M. Burke
Q: What is happening in Sudan right now?
A: Some say the war is a religious war; some say it's an economic war. It has elements of both—it's a religious war to the extent that the north is a fundamentalist Islamic government that is at war with anyone who isn't.
The northern government is known for bombing civilian targets including schools, hospitals and feeding centers. They have burned down churches and homes, stolen animals, enslaved women and children, and killed men.
For the past year, peace talks have been held, but the outcome is far from certain. A security deal was signed in late September, but the situation is tenuous, and fighting could resume.
Q: What is the state of the Church in Sudan? How have the Christians responded?
A: The Gospel of Christ is alive and well in Sudan. Sudanese Christians are putting their hope in Jesus and are encouraged to know that Christians around the world are standing with them in prayer and support and are speaking out on their behalf.
The Church is very active in the south. People in southern Sudan see the Church as the only institution that has survived.
Q: How has Samaritan's Purse been able to help the people of Sudan?
A: Samaritan's Purse has had a hospital in Lui, in southern Sudan, since 1997. The medical facility serves an area of more than 300,000 people. It has been bombed nine times since 2000.
Samaritan's Purse is reaching out to people in many areas of southern Sudan. We have ongoing programs in agriculture, education, primary health, food distribution, nurse training and evangelism that are changing lives. We have cared for hundreds of demoralized boy soldiers and have successfully returned them to their home areas. The needs continue to grow, and we want to do all that we can to help.
People who live in the Nuba Mountains, in central Sudan, have come under heavy persecution from the government. About 1.5 million people have been driven off their land and forced to relocate in what the government calls peace camps, where they do not receive food unless they convert to Islam. Samaritan's Purse has flown in many tons of food—and oftentimes the planes that deliver food have come under fire.
Q: How can people pray for Sudan?
A: Pray ...
- that God would work in the hearts of leaders in the north and south, and that He would provide discernment for maintaining peace.
- that churches and their leadership would be sustained and encouraged as they reach out to their communities.
- that Franklin Graham would have clarity in determining what role to play in the relief of the suffering people of Sudan.
- for the safety of the Samaritan's Purse staff working in Sudan.