Lenten Devotions: Advocacy for the Suffering Church

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April 10, 2020

Holy Week with the Nuba, Part Three

These devotions are also available on the GAFCON website

There is a cost to speaking out.

Sharing the Gospel can result in lack of educational or employment opportunities. It can get you beaten, arrested, and even killed.

My friend, brother in Christ, and co-leader of GAFCON’s Suffering Church Network, the Rt. Reverend Andudu Adam Elnail, Bishop of Kadugli and Nuba Mountains, has paid a price for speaking out. Bishop Andudu has been a bold witness to the world about persecution in Sudan. He revealed the truth about the Sudan government.

In 2008, three years into the Peace Agreement (CPA) between Sudan and South Sudan, Bishop Andudu first came to Washington, DC. I joined his “Nuba team” of George Tutu, Amin Ismail Zakaria (the brother of the doctor mentioned yesterday), and Slater Armstrong. The bishop warned members of Congress, the State Department, and other that the Khartoum regime hadn’t kept the CPA. Although Nuba fought with southern Sudanese against Sudan they were still under the regime’s tyranny. Andudu said unless the US and others pressured Sudan nothing would change. The Christians of Sudan would still be under Islamic law.

Three years later South Sudan seceded as per the CPA. The separation went off peacefully. But the Sudan government announced that since “the Christians” had their own state now, there would be no Christians in Sudan. Sudan would henceforth be completely “infidel free.”

At the same time, because the Nuba refused to accept the results of trumped-up South Kordofan (Arab name for Nuba Mountains) gubernatorial elections, Khartoum again began waging war, a second genocidal jihad, against Nuba Mountains. President Omar al-Bashir and certain military commanders actually referred to the war against the Nuba as “the final solution.” Bashir told his troops to get rid of the “black insects” in the region.

By God’s grace, Bishop Andudu was in the United States when the bombing started and Khartoum’s “Popular Defense Forces” (the same militia known infamously in Darfur as “Janjaweed”) came to Kadugli. Religion Dispatches wrote, “If Anglican Bishop Andudu had not been in Denver receiving medical treatment in early June, he might be in a mass grave now.”

By God’s grace, Andudu was here to bear witness to the re-activation of genocidal war on his people through testimony to the US Congress and elsewhere. Because the regime issued a death warrant (fatwa) against him, he and his family had to seek asylum in the United States. Some might say he shouldn’t have spoken publicly. But that would have changed nothing except to leave Congress without a personal story of suffering. The Popular Defense Forces came looking for Bishop Andudu when they came, long before his congressional testimony.

On August 4, 2011, Bishop Andudu testified at a hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. The hearing was held by a great longtime defender of the persecuted, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).

Smith opened “This latest violence is a tragic resumption of a prior war by the Khartoum government on the Nuba.” He revealed some were downplaying “the overwhelming responsibility of the Sudanese Government for the devastation taking place in Southern Kordofan by referring to the refusal of the SPLM North [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] to lay down their arms to negotiate with Khartoum.” But, he said, “there is no moral equivalence between the SPLM North actions and those of the Bashir government. SPLM-North members weren’t “bombing people indiscriminately, not driving Arabs off their lands and out of their homes, nor going door to door to identify their perceived enemies in order to execute them. The Government of Sudan’s military forces are.” Other defenders of the Nuba, US Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) (retired) and the late US Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) agreed.

In his testimony, Andudu revealed in Kadugli his “house was shot with guns, and his chaplain had to escape through the window. And also my offices and cyber cafe was burned down, and cathedral as well.” He added that the atrocities were also against black, African Muslims whose mosques has been bombed. One of the bishop’s people told him he had seen an “earth mover . . . digging two pits.” In the evening, Andudu said, the Sudan Army, the Popular Defense Forces, and others working with the Red Crescent “brought bodies” to the location and put corpses in “white body bags” and put them in the pits which were mass graves. Overall in Nuba, the bishop said,  “the children are killed, the women–the bombing is–the civilian is targeted. It is a war of horror. So, really, creating ethnic cleansing in the Nuba Mountains.” The bishop’s remarks were covered in print interviews, as well as at churches.

Andudu was joined by another friend of the Suffering Church, Brad Phillips, founder of the Persecution Project. Phillips testified of his first visit to the Nuba Mountains over 15 years before, “at that time, as was with my most recent visit, there were bombings going on every day that were part of an aerial campaign of terror against civilians.” He continued, “Genocide is currently being perpetrated in the Nuba Mountains.”

Phillips told how some Nuba who had fled to the UNMIS (UN Mission in Sudan) compound were killed at the gates after UNMIS officials allowed security forces to drag Nuba out of the compound while they stood by. He echoed the bishop, “the NCP [National Congress Party – Sudan Gov’t] is targeting the church in this war.”  He added that when they captured pastors, “the first thing they did” was ask “for a list of all the members of their congregation. If you are a part of the church, you are the enemy.” Many pastors were tortured and killed because they would not provide these lists.

This is all in the past. Why are we focusing our spiritual attention on genocidal activities that are no longer taken place? Three reasons:

First, because with true Islamists it is never over. Once jihad has been declared, it is not rescinded. What will prevent them from perpetrating this evil again? Giving strong support to the Body of Christ; supporting forces that promote religious freedom and secular democracy – like the valiant SPLA-North; and keeping vigilance and influence over what takes place in Sudan under the new “transitional” government.

Second, because we owe it to those Christians and other freedom-lovers who were killed. They should be honored and never forgotten. The Church in the Nuba Mountains is graced by many that have conquered “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

Third, because the strong faith of Nuba Christians in spite of persecution, and the merciful, gracious, loving Lord in whom their faith is firmly planted, have had a huge impact on those who do not know Jesus. They are coming to Him now.

As Bishop Andudu celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord with his people in the Nuba Mountains this weekend, we can all celebrate the Resurrection Life of Jesus that is demonstrated in the Suffering Church in the Nuba Mountains.

Scripture: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2

Suggested Actions:

  • Read the transcript of the Congressional Hearing hyperlinked above.
  • Watch this short film, Healing Hands: Dr. Ahmed Zakaria to see how Dr. Zakaria chose to ignore his own safety to stay in the Nuba Mountains and help his people.
  • Our own Ernie Didot, GAFCON’s Communications Director, recently returned from the Nuba Mountains. Watch his video where he speaks to Nuba believers who have experienced the war first hand. Discover: Bombing in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan.

Prayer:  O Lord, in this new time in Sudan, please give Your Church in the Nuba Mountains the time to grow and strengthen. Please give them years that are free from persecution now, and bring complete religious freedom and justice and equality to all of the people of Sudan so that the Church can witness with even more boldness than they already do! (If that’s even possible!) Bless the leader of the SPLA-North, Commander Abdelaziz Adam Alhilu, who loves his Christian brothers and sisters and has made so many sacrifices for them and for the Nuba Mountains. Bring him to full knowledge of Your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, as well. In His Name. Amen.

Holy Week with the Nuba, part three


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