A crevasse of division and violence marks the largest east African country of Sudan. The jagged ethnic and geographic barriers decades in the making have contributed to challenges of the present. After gaining independence from the UK in 1956, differences between north and south led to civil wars and the eventual formation of South Sudan as a sovereign nation in July 2011. Though concessions have been reached between the north and south, Sudan remains a spiritual and physical battlefield, as Christians comprise only a small minority.
Before South Sudan seceded, Sudan was torn in two by ethnic and religious differences. Though less in number, northern Arab Muslims controlled the government with little regard for the Sudanese majority who occupied the south. Civil wars and exploitation of southern oil fields led to retaliation of blacks in Darfur, western Sudan in 2004. Government forces responded harshly to the rebellion, displacing an estimated two million people and killing 200,000 to 400,000 more. Four tragic years later the UN became the leading force in peacekeeping operations and began the difficult task of restoring a society devastated by ethnic discrimination and displacement.
Today, the majority of Sudan’s inhabitants are Arab Sunni Muslims. As the ruling majority, their influence over law and government is strong. Though a recent agreement provided protection for non-Arabs, conversion to Christianity is legally punishable by death. While their brothers and sisters in South Sudan live in relative freedom, believers in Sudan face strong persecution, with those in the Nuba Mountains facing the most severe. There is a great need for regional and denominational unity and the establishment of Christian communities throughout Sudan. Pray that Sudanese believers would remain faithful to Christ despite persecution and join together as a unified body of believers.