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Friday, September 29, 2006

Back from Sudan

Michael and I barely scratched the surface of southern Sudan (SS). We spent one week in a town called Yei in order to attend a collaborative meeting of mission agencies dedicated to reaching SS. And though we didn’t venture a mile beyond the Yei’s edge, Sudan came to us. Missionaries, national pastors, evangelists, and theological students came from the far reaches of SS to meet, share, and pray. Sudan has been at war for nearly twenty years, north against south, Arab against black, and to some extent Muslim against Christian. Two million have died and four million displaced. But in January, 2005 a “Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)” was signed, bringing to an end the longest armed conflict on the African continent. For the next five years, the people of Sudan will look toward the Referendum of 2011 when those of SS will vote on whether to secede from the northern Khartoum government. Until then there will be reconstruction, lobbying, persuading, arguing, and praying. In some ways this Transitional Period may be the final window into the Khartoum north. The door to the north and perhaps even the disputed border zone (Nuba mountains, Abyei, and Upper Nile) may close. So, there is a sense of urgency. Sudan makes Uganda seem like a very well developed, luxurious country. The heat is brutal, the infrastructure (roads, electricity, safe water) absent, government services (hospitals, schools) a distant memory. The learning curve is extremely steep. The geography of a half million square miles of territory, the unfamiliar tribal/language names, dozens of organizations with different personalities and histories, shifting government policies, …it’s dizzying. The bottom line…planting your feet on the moist soil, tearing at the tough goat meat while you listen to the accounts of the hardship and suffering of these tall dark people, and praying through their hopes and needs. Well, Sudan found its way into our hearts. We thank those who prayed for our trip. We hope that we will be taking another exploratory trip into Sudan in the coming months. We’ll keep you posted. (Picture above: Michael and I with our roommate at the conference, a Sudanese man working with a reconciliation ministry)

1 comment:

Claire said...

So thankful that you are back safe! You were in my prayers. Talk to you soon!