War, conquest, colonization, coups and dictators—Sudan’s history runs red. Blood flows now, leaving a trail behind the men, women and children who have—and are actively—fleeing to bordering countries.
On April 15, clashes broke out between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, a rival paramilitary group. An observer outside of Sudan who is familiar with the situation told us that the current fighting is so devastating and all-encompassing that they think the winner of the conflict will only claim victory over a pile of rubble.
The conflict has, so far, made refugees out of an estimated 2.5 million people—a group larger than the population of New Mexico.
The infighting has also killed over 1,000 people and injured nearly 12,000 more. With the country already experiencing mass displacement of 4 million people prior to the conflict, many of the current refugees have no hope of returning and are trying to seek a better life in surrounding nations such as Chad, Egypt and Ethiopia.
Send Relief funds are also being utilized to serve refugees and internally displaced Sudanese families through emergency food relief, medical supplies, clean water, transportation, bedding and short-term shelter offered to the most vulnerable populations. These projects are currently serving nearly 17,000 people in the region.
With telecommunications down and necessities like electricity and water dwindling, Send Relief partners in the area, like International Mission Board workers Jerry and Meg Brown, are forming plans to assist refugees fleeing to bordering countries. Trauma healing counseling is a primary way they are currently meeting needs, and Sudanese Christians are receiving training in trauma counseling so they can minister to their neighbors.
“We don’t know why God permitted this to happen right now, but we do believe He’s given us a job to do,” Megsaid. “Pray for the church here in the midst of it all.”
A history of hardship
Sudan boasts centuries of rich history, but its history is also rife with unrest and economic hardship.
Part of the African nation belonged to the Kush and Nubian kingdoms, which were cradles of civilization, and lasted from 2450 BC to 1500 AD. The kingdoms were colonized by Coptic Christians until settlers from Arabia introduced Islam to the nation, and Christianity began to fade. Colonization by the Egyptians and the British followed, and in 1956, Sudan finally gained its independence. Coups, two civil wars, dictatorships and wars extending past the country’s borders followed.
While unrest and economic hardship have also been the markers of the past 50 to 100 years, this time, the violence broke out without much warning, Jerry said. The Browns live in another country in Northern Africa and the Middle East.
Jerry said Sudan has undergone eras where it has been more open and Christian work was possible. The country is estimated to be roughly 3% evangelical Christian. Islam is the predominant religion, and Sudan is home to 67 unreached people groups.
Though the situation is grim, the Browns are confident the Lord will redeem what seems unredeemable.
“We do believe God will use this to build His church. Even though we don’t know how, we know He will because that is His will, that every kingdom, people, tribe, nation will hear, even all those people groups in Sudan that have yet to hear,” Meg said.
Loving your neighbor
Refugees in neighboring countries who left before the current conflict can minister and empathize with refugees who are now fleeing. The Browns say they expect terrific conversations to result.
South Sudan is one of the nations receiving refugees. Many of those fleeing, the majority of whom are Muslim, once persecuted those who now live in South Sudan for their Christian faith. Christian Sudanese are loving their neighbors and welcome them wholeheartedly. Jerry said they are ministering to the people who threw them out of the country.
“It’s really hard for people to go through the trauma of evacuating, but it’s often in those circumstances where they turn to God,” Meg said.
A Christian fleeing Sudan had the opportunity to share with a non-Christian family the story of Jesus calming the sea.
“God sees the turmoil we’re in, and He has the power to calm that,” the Christians shared.
“We believe God is going to use this. We also really believe that God, will continue to build His church in Sudan,” Meg said. “Even though so many believers have had to leave again, God has not left Sudan.”
A long-time Christian worker shared, “The church in Sudan belongs to the Lord, and He will nurture it, so it’s not like we left anything that belonged to us. It’s always been His church. He will take care of it.”
The Browns ask for prayer for the Christians who remain in the country. Pray also for the Christians who’ve fled to be ministers of hope to people who have been hopeless for a generation.
Pray for the believers ministering to refugees in surrounding countries to have wisdom, compassion and discernment.
Eventually, refugees will make their way to Europe and the U.S., and Jerry and Meg said it will provide a chance for the global church to respond in love.
You can be a part of bringing relief to hundreds of thousands of Sudanese in need. Please visit Send Relief for more information.
Some names have been changed for security reasons.
Published July 6, 2023