Water and War: Christian Ministry in the Sudan
PERSECUTION PROJECT FOUNDATION
In 1997, FCS alumnus Brad Phillips began a campaign of active compassion for the persecuted in war-ravaged Sudan. His organization, the Persecution Project Foundation (PPF), has worked for over 15 years to address the temporal and spiritual needs of the Sudanese people.
The mission of Persecution Project Foundation is to alleviate the suffering of those who are persecuted, whether for their religious beliefs, political alignment or cultural identity. Its area of ministry is northeastern Africa, notably South Sudan and the (North) Sudanese provinces of Darfur and Southern Kordofan. These locations are considered by many relief agencies to be too dangerous to send their people.
The goal of the foundation is not to effect political change, but rather to bring physical and spiritual comfort to those for whom war and strife are daily burdens. As a Christian ministry, PPF follows the example of the Beatitudes and other scriptural directives: they provide safe water, emergency shelter, medical services and Christian ministry to our brothers and sisters in northeastern Africa.
WAR IN SOUTH SUDAN
The Republic of South Sudan has only been an independent nation since 2011, and political instability threatens this young country on a daily basis. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the towns affected by the most recent war, a conflict between the official government and a revolutionary faction.
The citizens of South Sudan who have become refugees within their own country were for the most part not directly involved on either side of the conflict, yet they suffered its effects, much as in the words of an African proverb: "When two elephants fight, the grass gets hurt."
The war in a sense overshadowed the reality of need in South Sudan. In addition to the constant struggle for clean water and medical care, the South Sudanese people had to contend with violence and displacement from their homes. However, the needs of the people had not changed. God blessed the Persecution Project Foundation in that none of its ministry teams were in the city where the conflict began. When the rebel leader gained control of Unity State, PPF feared for the safety of the thousands of refugees there, but the rebels did not interfere with the refugee camp and its dedicated ministers.
On January 23rd, representatives from both sides signed a "cessation of hostilities" agreement, a type of ceasefire which does not obligate the U.N. to monitor for violations. The opposing parties, and the organization acting as mediator between them, are jointly responsible for monitoring and maintaining a temporary peace. This disengagement will hopefully allow PPF and other relief agencies to provide necessary aid without fear of further violence. However, the leaders of South Sudan have much work to do if they wish to unite their people in true peace. The Christian ministry of the Persecution Project Foundation may yet prove to be instrumental in ending the divisions that threaten this young nation.
NUBA BOREHOLE REPAIR CAMPAIGN
One of the neediest, most dangerous areas within PPF's ministry is the Nuba Mountain region in Southern Kordofan. Its residents rely on manmade boreholes to bring up clean well water for the everyday necessities of life. In addition to providing replacement parts and working with local technicians to keep the boreholes fully functional, the foundation faces the challenges of ministering to an area that is under constant attack.
Since May of 2011, Sudan's Air Force has carried out regular bombing attacks on their countrymen in the Nuba region. This one-sided civil war is the government of Sudan's response to political dissent, differences in religion and ethnic disparity. The Nuba people supported independence for South Sudan in the hope of being included in the new country. When the borders were officially decided, however, the Nuba Mountains were not made a part of South Sudan, leaving the largely Christian population at the mercy of their own non-Christian government. Many of these people have fled to neighboring Unity State in South Sudan, where a camp called Yida hosts 65-70,000 refugees.
The Persecution Project Foundation supports the Nuba region in multiple ways. One of the teams distributes blankets and "action packs" (clothing & hygiene items donated by American sponsors) to the refugees in Yida. Another team has been working in the Nuba Mountains, an active war zone avoided by most relief agencies, to repair boreholes alongside native technicians. Over 100 boreholes have been successfully repaired as of January 2014. The foundation has also begun an awareness campaign to expose the atrocities committed by the Sudanese government against its own people, via petitions and online advocacy.
For more information, and to learn how you can contribute to the foundation's efforts, visit their website at persecutionproject.org or at savethenuba.com.