To be read on Sabbath, March 26, 2011
The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on Sabbath, April 2, 2011
“Christ calls upon us to labor patiently and perseveringly for the thousands perishing in their sins, scattered in all lands, like wrecks on a desert shore. Those who share in Christ’s glory must share also in His ministry, helping the weak, the wretched, and the despondent.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 31.
“Every believer should be wholehearted in his attachment to the church. Its prosperity should be his first interest, and unless he feels under sacred obligations to make his connection with the church a benefit to it in preference to himself, it can do far better without him. It is in the power of all to do something for the cause of God. There are those who spend a large amount for needless luxuries; they gratify their appetites, but feel it a great tax to contribute means to sustain the church.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 18.
Praise be to God that the message of Reformation has entered Sudan, the largest country in Africa, located in the northeast and sharing borders with Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Red Sea on the east, the Central African Republic and Chad on the west, Egypt and Libya on the north, and Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo on the south. The country covers an area of 2,505,800 square kilometers (967,530 square miles), with a population of approximately 41,000,000 people.
Economically, the country is poor, although it has good reserves of natural resources, such as crude oil and minerals. The country has suffered many civil wars, which have severely crippled the economy and society. For 21 years there was civil war in South Sudan, which claimed more than 1.5 million lives. Although a peace agreement was signed in 2005, there is still a great deal of tension there. Currently there is an ongoing war in the Darfur region of western Sudan which has claimed more than 200,000 lives. This greatly hinders missionary activity. Another hindrance is the Islamic religion; more than 70% of the population are Muslim, while Christians make up just 15%, mostly in the south. Pagan or traditional religions also claim about 15% of the population. Generally speaking, Sudan is a strictly Muslim country, so there is no freedom of worship for Christians. International pressure has helped bring about at least a measure of tolerance, so there is not as much torture of Christians as there was previously.
South Sudan has been granted an interim self-government under the peace agreement between the Christians who dominate South Sudan and the federal government which is dominated by Muslims. At least for now, missionary activities can be carried out freely. We praise God that our missionaries are able to use this opportunity. The Arabic language is dominant throughout Sudan; in Muslim mosques, Christian churches, and in business offices, that is the official language. The people use Bibles in the Arabic language. English and other local languages are also used in communication.
Seventh-day Adventists first presented the third angel’s message in Sudan in the early 1970s, beginning in South Sudan. The pioneer SDA pastor who contributed much in establishing the SDA Church in South Sudan has become the first person to welcome the Reformation message in Sudan. His name is Nathana Bathuel.
Early in July 2009 a man contacted the General Conference, claiming that he was a member of the Reform Movement in Uganda and had been doing business in South Sudan. He said he wanted to help establish the work of Reformation in Sudan. The General Conference arranged with Pastor Sevith Moyo from BAMI College in Nairobi to meet up with this man and travel with him according to his request. However, when the travel arrangements were completed in September 2009 and the day came when they were supposed to travel, the man did not come and was not heard from again. Brother Moyo had to make quick arrangements to take Brother Wilberforce Kariisa from Uganda to accompany him to Juba in South Sudan.
After being there a week, the brethren made some important contacts, including Pastor Bathuel, Brother Jacob Gore, and others. In December 2009, we made a second visit to Juba to answer a call from those who were interested in learning more. A few days before we arrived, some other people visited them and made false allegations against us, causing some to become discouraged and draw back. But we praise God that among those who welcomed us were Pastor Bathuel and Brother Gore. We did our best to encourage them to stand firm for God with this prophesied Reform Movement. Now we need to send a permanent missionary worker to give a strong foundation to the work of God.
Plans include registering the church, obtaining a piece of land, and establishing a central office and chapel in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. Houses of worship are also needed in other places to relieve the believers from the harassment of government authorities who want to see the people in every religious organization meeting in an official house of worship. Your generous gifts this coming Sabbath will be used for these purposes to the honor and glory of God. May God bless you richly as you set your mind to serve God through your financial blessings.
–Parmenas N. Shirima and Sevith Moyo, BAMI College, Nairobi, Kenya