Sudan lost 26% of its area and 25% of its population when South Sudan became an independent country in July 2011. Thank the Lord a major new war did not break out when the country divided, but continue to pray for peace. The situation remains very tense, with many unresolved disputes between the 2 countries. Massive protests in 2018 eventually led to the arrest of the President and a remarkable transformation of policy and governance followed. Praise God for new opportunities for this ancient land!
Sudan has known only war for its entire modern history. Violence is rife throughout Sudan, which is regarded as one of the world's least stable nations. The belligerent government/military waged war against restive populations in the south, west and east at massive human and economic cost to its own citizens. With such religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity added to civil conflicts and hostile relations with neighbours, peace is nearly impossible. Pray for sweeping change at the highest levels and throughout the land - for repentance, restitution and rebuilding of communal life.
Darfur is a 21st Century byword for tragedy. Low-level conflict began in the 1970s, but in 2003 fighting escalated between rebel groups and the government-sponsored Janjawid militia. The people of Darfur are Black African Muslims, the Janjawid are Arabized Sudanese. Many consider the atrocities of Darfur to be racially motivated genocide. Massacres, rapes, mutilations and destruction of villages, food and water supplies are signatures of this systematic, government-sponsored campaign. The conflict - and refugees - spilled over into Chad as well, even leading to Chad's declaration of war against Sudan (ended in 2007).
Specific issues and groups for prayer:
- Increasing numbers of Muslims are turning to Jesus, in some cases, even entire villages. They are often disillusioned by Islam and attracted to Jesus. The openness among many is remarkable, and believers from Muslim backgrounds number in the tens of thousands. But millions remain virtually unreached by the gospel.
- Khartoum is a booming conurbation of approximately seven million inhabitants, including the vast shantytowns on the outskirts, which consist mostly of displaced Nuba Mountain, Darfurian and southerner populations. Poverty and deprivation are widespread, and Christians are often subjected to harassment, destruction of church buildings and discriminatory taxes and laws. Khartoum actually has a higher Christian presence than any other northern city, but remains dominated by Islam.
- The Nuba Mountain peoples, an island of mostly Christian peoples in a sea of Islam, suffered harshly under the government's heavy hand. Whole tribes have turned to Christ (Episcopal Church, Sudanese Church of Christ); a few others have become Muslim. There are still a number of unreached groups among the 79 peoples here. Most of the population fled during the military's genocidal campaign, but many are now returning, despite the continued threat of renewed persecution.
- Children and young people. Nearly half of Sudan's population are under age 18; almost all have grown up in a context of suffering and trauma.
- Education. An entire generation has almost no schooling, with potentially disastrous future implications. The education sector is being rebuilt. Training teachers is a great need (9,000 needed in the south alone), but getting kids into school is just as important. CMS helps Christians with an "Under Tree School" programme. Hope for the Future and Aid to the Church in Need are two of many agencies providing Sudanese Christian children with education. Only 22% of children are enrolled in school - partly due to compulsory fees introduced in 1999 - and only 1% of girls in Sudan finish school. ACES, the Association of Christian Educators in Sudan, is a united Christian voice on issues of education.
- Child soldiers. There are possibly as many as 9,000 still in Sudan. Many were forced to serve in the SPLA, the cultic Lord's Resistance Army or as pro-government militias. Since the war ended in the south, most are now in Darfur.
- Street children - over 70,000 just in the northern part alone. Orphaned street kids in the war-battered south are uncounted. Almost all of Khartoum's more than 30,000 street kids were born elsewhere and are nearly all boys. Pray for Christian ministry to these vulnerable children. Operation Mercy, SOS Children, Kids Alive International and Living Water work with children at risk, but many more such ministries are needed.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.