MALAKAL, Upper Nile (BP) – Send Relief is helping feed refugees fleeing the escalating civil conflict in Sudan that international leaders say threatens a full-scale civil war.
Send Relief is working with Empower One church planting and humanitarian ministries to feed 500 refugees a day through August at the United Nations refugee camp in Malakal, the capital city of Upper Nile, South Sudan, Empower One told Baptist Press.
Send Relief’s $43,500 allocation is a great help, Chad Vandiver, U.S. director of Empower One Network, told Baptist Press.
“It’s really helpful in that South Sudan is receiving these refugees,” said Vandiver, a former International Mission Board missionary. “We’re very grateful that we have so many church planters in South Sudan who are willing to serve these refugees. … The need for Southern Baptists to step up and provide is more than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”
Jason Cox, Send Relief’s vice president of international ministry, said Empower One is a valuable partner in the field.
“Send Relief is responding to this crisis on multiple fronts, inside and outside of Sudan. But without partners like Empower One with long-term presence in the region, we would be limited in our reach and impact,” Cox told Baptist Press. “Through the Empower One team on the ground in South Sudan, we’re not only providing food relief to meet the acute physical needs of the most vulnerable among Sudanese refugees. We’re also sharing the love of Christ, the Bread of Life, who meets their greatest need.
“Without the sacrificial giving of our churches in the States, none of this would be possible,” Cox said. “We are grateful.”
About 27,000 of the 3.5 million people the United Nations said are displaced by the war have landed at the Malakal camp, Vandiver said, with numbers increasing. The 3.5 million includes others who have fled to Chad, the Central African Republic, Egypt and Ethiopia, and many who are internally displaced in states including the River Nile, Northern, White Nile and West Darfur, the International Organization for Migration reported.
According to the United Nations, more than 1,100 people have been killed and 12,000 injured in fighting that began April 15 between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group ahead of a scheduled transitional government intended to establish democracy. Fighting has spread from Khartoum to include Darfur, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Omdurman, threatening a full-scale civil war in the country that has known little peace, splitting into North and South Sudan in 2011.
Through Empower One, Vandiver is establishing “flagship church multiplication centers” in Malakal and 10 other key locations in South Sudan. Centers are designed to include churches, pharmacies, clinics, primary and secondary schools, water kiosks and radio towers.
Cox encourages Southern Baptists to remember Sudan in prayer and in giving.
“The humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Sudan is going largely unnoticed on this side of the world,” Cox said. “Please don’t forget the church in Sudan.”
Cox urged prayer for churches in South Sudan and surrounding countries as they care for refugees, and for believers whose faith makes them targets for violence.
“Pray that in the midst of this tragedy,” Cox said, “the Gospel would advance and the church would be strengthened and multiply.”
Statistics surrounding the conflict in Sudan have been updated with figures reflected by July 28 reports.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ senior writer.
Published July 14, 2023