Standing Firm

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Recently, the PPF team was in Sudan’s Nuba mountains again.

  Planting crops to ward off hunger

Planting crops to ward off hunger

The rains had begun, and the whole country was turning green. Thin cows and goats were busy gorging themselves on abundant grass, and new life was seen everywhere. In every community we passed, whether in the valleys or on terraced hillsides, people were out plowing and planting. With the government-imposed humanitarian blockade now in its 8th year, it’s critical that this year’s local harvest be a big one. Famine conditions already prevail in many areas.

While visiting, our team delivered several more tons of medicine, emergency food, and other relief supplies, as well as Bibles and well repair parts. One of PPF’s new Mercedes Unimog trucks was hard at work, crossing through muddy, swampy areas with relative ease to deliver more “active compassion.”

Everywhere we stopped and spoke with locals, there seemed to be an unwavering resolve to “hold out” and weather the storm regardless of how long it rages.

“We will NEVER live under Shariah,” one Christian community leader told us. “Don’t worry about us. We won’t give up. We’ve been fighting this battle since 1956.”

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PPF Engineers Repair another Nuba Well - 1.JPG
  PPF teams hard at work delivering "Active Compassion"

PPF teams hard at work delivering "Active Compassion"

Another leader we met (a Muslim) went further: “First, the Islamists told us we needed a united Sudan, so we should all speak Arabic. We complied. But that wasn’t enough. Then, they told us that if we were not Muslims, we must convert. Otherwise, we’d get no jobs, receive no access to education, and be permanently marginalized. So, some of us did. But even that wasn’t enough. We were then told we had to abandon our African identity and culture and embrace a distinctly ‘Arabized’ one. We finally said no. All of us. Christian and Muslim. Now, the government is trying to wipe us all out.”

Taken in context of everything going on in this area of the world, this kind of resolve is remarkable.

 Nuba mountains "graffiti"

Nuba mountains "graffiti"

  The Nuba Church has resisted Islamization since 1956.

The Nuba Church has resisted Islamization since 1956.

Right now, things look really bad for the Nuba. The Islamist government in Khartoum continues to keep the area under a stranglehold to compel its surrender or abandonment by the Nuba people. South Sudan is struggling under hyper-inflation and instability due to its own internal conflicts and can provide little help.

The US and International Community has done an about-face and started siding with the Islamists in Sudan, pushing the Nuba “rebels” to accept the current Arab regime and lay down their arms. There is even a real danger of Sudan’s government being removed from the “State Sponsors of Terror” list, which would give the Islamists $ billions more to spend on their internal wars against Christians and other “infidels” and “apostates.”

  A wedding celebration

A wedding celebration

And yet wherever our team went, markets were buzzing, churches were full, wedding celebrations were held, people were smiling, and if it wasn’t for all the bombed out buildings and unexploded ordnance everywhere, you’d forget this place was a war zone.

“…the joy of the Lord is your strength” Neh. 8:10

  Contagious joy... and the courage to never give up!

Contagious joy... and the courage to never give up!

The Nuba people are standing firm— especially the Nuba church. The issue is very simple to them: They will not give up their culture and their faith. They will not be Islamized. They will not be ruled by Islamic fundamentalism. Their schools will continue to teach English, not Arabic. Their churches will continue to preach Jesus, and no other Way. Their communities will continue to stand to defend their ancient homeland. They will never, never, NEVER give up.

We felt very convicted. PPF’s latest outreaches to the Nuba began in 2011. But the Nuba have been involved in defending themselves from extremism since 1956. Many on our team get to fly away back to first world conditions, while Nuba children must play soccer next to 500 pound bombs sticking out of the ground. Many of us involved in this work have felt discouraged at times, wondering whether things would ever change— but the Nuba church continues to press on day-after-day without losing hope.

“If our brothers and sisters can be so determined, why can’t we?” This is the question we ask ourselves when we’re tempted to be discouraged.

When PPF began working among the persecuted in Sudan, many in the organization saw it primarily as fulfilling an obligation. “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Heb. 13:3

  The Beautiful Nuba Mountains of Sudan

The Beautiful Nuba Mountains of Sudan

But now, we see it as a privilege. It’s a privilege to be chosen to stand in solidarity with the persecuted Church in Sudan’s Nuba mountains. It’s a privilege to be a part of their lives and community in some small way.

In the same way, it’s a privilege to stand with all the ministry partners of PPF making this work and relationship possible with the Nuba people.

Our prayer is that we all remain standing firm together, as one body spanning many thousands of miles. Would you pray with us?

The "Mechanics of Ministry" to the Persecuted

A big challenge with trying to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Sudan is that so many live in very remote and hard-to-reach areas.

Part of the campaign of persecution by Sudan’s Islamist regime is purposefully neglecting “enemy” areas for development.

Sudan’s war-torn Nuba mountains are some of the least developed areas of Sudan. The addition of a long-standing humanitarian blockade has resulted in the slow grinding down of what infrastructure is there.

  Can you find the road?

Can you find the road?

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The few roads in the Nuba have gotten perpetually worse since the war began. It’s not uncommon to see the rusting hulks of heavy equipment standing idle for lack of fuel and spare parts to keep them running. Sometimes fuel and parts can be smuggled and bought at high prices on the black market, but during famine conditions, people are more worried about food and medicine than good roads for the few vehicles running.

  It's hard to move when you can't even see the tires for the mud.

It's hard to move when you can't even see the tires for the mud.

These challenges mean the addition of heavy-duty vehicles for ministry is a must for Persecution Project.

Thankfully, PPF recently welcomed the addition of two Mercedes Unimog trucks. These two vehicles have added tremendous capacity for outreach.

But these vehicles didn’t drop out of the sky. They were provided by God’s grace working through the generosity of our ministry partners— like you!

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What good is buying 10,000 Arabic Bibles if there is no way to get them to the people who need them? Likewise, what use is our medical outreach if we can’t move 30 tons of medicine to the more than 100 clinics we stock?

  Unimog being unloaded

Unimog being unloaded

These logistical needs are not often glamorous… but they are absolutely essential. We’ve often referred to it as a “ministry of mud.” It really is that important.

We extend our sincere thanks to those who have specifically donated towards the “mechanics of ministry". Your active compassion is literally moving mountains— mountains of mercy.

Evangelism Backpacks

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Wars, corruption, poverty, famine and turmoil seem to have no end in many African nations.

But the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly is the "Good News" that transforms nations, communities, tribes, families and individuals.

Persecution Project Foundation is training and equipping small teams of evangelists to bring the Good News of the Gospel to South Sudan's unreached tribes.

Use Your Community to Reach Their Community

  Backpack Projectors

Backpack Projectors

You can be a part of this ministry by helping PPF equip teams of indigenous evangelists with the tools they need to reach their neighbors with the Good News of Christ.

Each team undergoes training in the use of an Evangelism Backpack Projector Kit. One team equipped with a projector can bring an audio/visual witness to a population which is more than 90 percent illiterate.

During the next six months our goal is to train and equip five more Evangelism Backpack Projector Teams to immediately deploy in several unreached communities.

Each projector system costs about $1,500, plus transportation.

This means 15 people giving $100, or 30 people giving $50 can help us equip one team.

Visit evangelismbackpacks.com to donate or to become a fundraiser for this vital campaign.

  Showing  The Jesus Film  at the JLTC.

Showing The Jesus Film at the JLTC.

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Invite a Speaker

 First Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, VA

First Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, VA

We are so grateful for the ministry partnership of churches like our brethren at First Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia. If you would like us to come visit your congregation, please contact Ed Lyons at 540-829-5353, or write to ed.lyons@persecutionproject.org. We look forward to sharing with you what God is doing through our Active Compassion!

Sudan's Silent Killer

The Islamist's Ultimate Weapon

   Sudan's dictator, Omar al Bashir

Sudan's dictator, Omar al Bashir

For more than a year, the skies over the war-torn Nuba mountains of Sudan have been mostly quiet. The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) ground troops have also shown little mobilization. Part of the reason for this is that the SAF has been increasingly pulled into the war in Yemen, allied to their new financial backer, the Saudi government.

But you rarely read about Sudan’s role in the Yemeni war. And what little press is reported about the Nuba mountains is that a unilateral government “cease-fire” has been holding.

   A woman plants sorghum and prays for rain.

A woman plants sorghum and prays for rain.

   Hospitals and clinics are full.

Hospitals and clinics are full.

But this supposed “ceasefire” actually doesn’t exist, unless one is only considering traditional weapons like guns and tanks. The main weapon against the Nuba, which has been consistently used by Sudan’s dictator, Omar al Bashir, has been a total economic and humanitarian blockade of the region.

More simply stated: in Sudan, food and medicine have always been more effective weapons than bombs and bullets.

The Nuba mountains have been under this blockade since June, 2011. That’s nearly 7 years as of this writing. The cumulative effect of this kind of embargo has devastated the Nuba economy.

Add to this poor rains and widespread crop failure in recent years, and we have all the ingredients for a full-scale famine in many areas. This famine is Sudan’s Silent Killer.

Bashir thinks he can fool the world by playing diplomatic “footsie” with the West. Officially cutting his ties with Iran, supporting the Saudi’s in their proxy war in Yemen, sharing intelligence with the Americans on certain “terrorist” targets, are all means Bashir is using to convince the world that he’s a changed man.

   Mariam making tea in her cave home.

Mariam making tea in her cave home.

But is he?

Just ask people living under his regime.

Ask Mariam, who lives in Delami county, an area hit very hard by the humanitarian blockade.

When we met Mariam, she was living in a cave made by the massive boulders around the base of a mountain range. Her village had been abandoned, and even with the cease fire, Mariam still lives in the cave, because she’s afraid to go home due to its proximity to enemy lines.

   11-year-old Rhemas carrying water to her family

11-year-old Rhemas carrying water to her family

Mariam is one of thousands of examples of ordinary Nuba people, many of them our brothers and sisters in Christ, who continue to suffer from Sudan’s “Silent Killer.”

The people who genuinely suffer the most are children— like Rhemas. Rhemas is a girl our team met on a trip to visit the Kwalib people, a large, mostly Christian community in Delami county. We’ve shared her story in our June 2015 Africa Messenger.

Rhemas’ family live among the large boulders and caves just like Mariam. To get water for her family, Rhemas must climb high into the mountain to a cave where rainwater collects. She makes this perilous trek sometimes twice a day. Can you imagine doing this kind of work on an empty stomach?

   More emergency relief supplies on their way

More emergency relief supplies on their way

PPF has supplied crisis relief items to the Nuba since 2011. Each year, we have seen the humanitarian situation gradually worsening, as the effects of the blockade compound.

Honestly, it’s a struggle to keep up with the need. The Nuba is home to nearly 1.5 million souls. Yet the number of organizations defying the Islamist blockade with a permanent presence in the mountains can be counted on one hand. And the Islamists consider us criminals. To them, providing safe water to people like Rhemas’ family is a criminal act. Providing emergency food and shelter items to Mariam and her family is also a crime.

   These women are thankful for a PPF-sponsored distribution.

These women are thankful for a PPF-sponsored distribution.

Bashir and his Islamist government do not want anything to stop their “Silent Killer.” While they turn on the charm offensive and try to convince the world they are allies in the War on Terror, the Nuba people know better.

As do we.

Thank you for your financial and prayer support.

Let’s continue in prayer… then engage in more Active Compassion for the Persecuted!

Safe Water Update: 77 More Safe Water Wells!

   Another borehole being repaired

Another borehole being repaired

In early April, PPF's Emergency Well Repair Team in Sudan's Nuba mountains reported that they had completed the 77th repair of the year! This number is significant, because it was the initial goal PPF set for all of 2017. But barely into the second quarter of 2018, our team blew past this number.

Our repair team could not accomplish this vital relief work without having access to plenty of spare parts, vehicles, fuel, staff support, and all the other logistical needs for this project. These items have been provided by God working through your generosity to PPF's Safe Water Program.

Because of your giving, we can give a cup of cold water in Jesus' name to thousands of His persecuted flock.

   Celebrating clean water!

Celebrating clean water!

The Children's Issue

When Persecution Project writes about "Active Compassion for the Persecuted," we're writing mostly about little people.

When we report on impending famine conditions, we're talking about mostly hungry little people.

When we speak about a government-sponsored campaign of extermination, we're talking about the extermination of mostly little people.

The embargoed area of Sudan's Nuba mountains is like most places in the country in that it's home to lots of young people. Children under 15 years of age easily make up more than half the population. We don't need scientific surveys to tell us this. We just look around. Kids are everywhere.

  Most little people have BIG jobs.

Most little people have BIG jobs.

In a rural, pastoral community like the Nuba, children are a major blessing. Little boys tend large herds of cattle while girls fetch heavy containers of water from the wells. Hard work in a part of life, and most little people have big jobs.

Unfortunately, with the current war, most of the victims are also little people. Most of the suffering and sickness is borne by little bodies. The killed and wounded are disproportionately children.

But on the flip side, your active compassion towards the persecuted in Sudan is mostly blessing little victims. Most of the medicine helps heal little bodies. Most of the emergency food supplies fill little bellies. And most people drinking from newly repaired wells are little people.

The local church mirrors the rest of the community in that congregations are heavily populated by children. Their voices are typically the loudest, and their worship the most enthusiastic and sincere.

When you pray for the persecuted in Sudan, do you picture people like you who may just look or dress differently? Well, if you picture them as being a lot younger, you'll be closer to reality.

Jesus said that "inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." (Matt. 25:40)

In this verse, Christ identifies with the marginalized in society and invites us to fellowship with Him by meeting Him at their level. It's hard to imagine being more marginalized than a child living in a war zone in one of the poorest, most underdeveloped areas of the world. But hopefully the pictures in this report will convince you more than words that we have definitely found Christ in this special community of little people.

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Prayer:

In Sudan, children are everywhere. Thank you for loving them.

Imagine Walking 3 Hours for Clean Water

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Samia is rejoicing today, because her village borehole is working once again. While it was broken, Samia had to walk for three hours one-way to fetch water in the neighboring village. Because of the long queues, she often had to spend the night away from home while waiting for a turn at the well.

After the PPF team repaired her village well, she told us she is now sleeping in her own home once again.

As of March 22, PPF has repaired another 62 Nuba boreholes in 2018... and we're still working thanks to our faithful donors. Thanks to our partners, we are able to bless tens of thousands of people like Samia every day!

 

The Heartbeat of Outreach: Powerful Women of Faith in Sudan's Nuba Mountains

Cabina

Cabina is a mother of five children in the Nuba mountains of Sudan. She’s also the wife of a pastor— a very busy pastor. Pastor Morris shepherds his own congregation, and coordinates 100 others in a land on the perpetual edge of famine due to a government-imposed humanitarian blockade.

  Cabina (rear center) and her family

Cabina (rear center) and her family

  Pastor Morris and Cabina

Pastor Morris and Cabina

Persecution Project has worked with Morris since the war began in 2011. He coordinates the receipt and distribution of hundreds of tons of relief, shelter, and food items as well as other important outreaches.

But, honestly, as much as we love Morris, Cabina is extra special. There are no hotels in the Nuba mountains. When people travel, they stay with families. And Cabina’s hospitality is legend. You know this by how many locals are in her home everyday.

To say Cabina has a revolving door of hospitality is a dramatic understatement. A revolving door wouldn’t turn fast enough to allow in half the people Cabina feeds, disciples, laughs with, and blesses every day. Every. Single. Day.

When PPF’s team arrives, it’s nearly always unannounced. There’s no working cell network in the Nuba, and satellite internet connections are few and far between. So what typically happens is that the PPF team drives up with several people needing food, beds, fresh water for showers, and rest.

Cabina doesn’t miss a beat. She’s always joyful to see more company. Instantly, she commands her battalions to build the fires, pluck the chickens, slaughter the hogs and goats, fetch the water and make the beds (her own family’s beds for guests to use).

She knows we love the local drink made from the baobab tree, so she makes gallons to quench our thirst. In the evening, she organizes children, many of whom have lost parents to the war, to sing hymns of praise to welcome our arrival.

  These orphaned children sang for us outside of Morris and Cabina's home, where they receive daily food...

These orphaned children sang for us outside of Morris and Cabina's home, where they receive daily food...

Cabina doesn’t live in a five bedroom house on 10 acres with all the latest gadgetry for hospitality. She has a small compound with a few small buildings. A total of four rooms. She has no plumbing. No electricity. No phone. The local well pump is overused due to a large population of internally displaced Nubans and routinely breaks, forcing the family to drink muddy water from hand-dug wells.

  Visitors looking for help

Visitors looking for help

Life is hard.

But Cabina soldiers on with a smile and a song on her lips. Cabina is the single greatest testimony of joy we have found in Sudan. She and her husband are not only a keystone in their community, they are heroes. Undisputed heroes.

You may be wondering “Why don’t you help this woman more so she doesn’t have such a hard time?” Good question. The short answer is that we do help Morris and Cabina— but they pass it on. They give to everyone— including enemy prisoners of war detained close to their home.

We often joke that compared to Cabina, the Proverbs 31 woman was an under-achiever. We are so blessed to know her and serve with her. We wish you all could meet her. For now, please remember her in your prayers. She needs a super helping of grace to endure the strain of daily life. She’s human after all. She may not be a literal “superwoman,” but Cabina certainly gives a fair impression of one. She feels your love and begs us every time to send greetings to her American family when we visit.

She prays for you. Will you pray for her?

Medina

  Medina and her family

Medina and her family

Medina is a young mother of three. Her husband serves in the Nuba army, an unpaid force which has acted as a shield to the Nuba people of Sudan for nearly seven years.

  Helping distribute Dignity Kits...

Helping distribute Dignity Kits...

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Medina is well educated and speaks excellent English. We first met her when she was pregnant with her third child. She joined us for several days of bumpy roads through the Nuba to conduct Dignity Kit outreaches for thousands of women.

When she’s not conducting these outreaches for Persecution Project, she teaches English at a local church school. When she’s paid, she makes very little. Moreover, she’s the only woman on staff and deals with the pressure which comes from normal challenges working in very much a man’s world.

On a recent visit to her community, Medina paid the PPF team a visit and brought her new daughter. She presented our team with a pot of homemade sesame seed spread which tasted much better than the best peanut butter we’ve ever tasted.

But our team ate very little because they knew this was Medina’s family’s food from their own meager pantry. That pot would have to feed a family of five for several days.

Medina distributes emergency relief packs, food and PPF audio Bibles. (click on image to advance the photos)

It sounds like one of those dramatic television appeals to say this, but it honestly takes very little to bless women like Medina and Cabina— provided we all work together. What is easy for us can make a huge difference to them. And your active compassion is making a difference.

Epilogue

Now that you have been introduced to Cabina and Medina, if you would like to send them letters of encouragement, please mail them to PPF’s main office, and we will compile them to send with our teams.

Our Greatest Help

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)

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Hunger is one of those irresistible impulses that we all share. It only passes when we’re satisfied with food or drink. But our physical bodies are not the only dimension of our being that hungers. Our spirit hungers as well. It needs food just as much as our bodies.

  Bibles awaiting distribution

Bibles awaiting distribution

Jesus tells us that He is the only spiritual food that can fully satisfy. People can try to satisfy spiritual hunger with any number of substitutes. But none can completely fill the void. Like someone who is on the edge of starvation all the time, spiritual hunger becomes a way of life, and despair can quickly cross the physical and spiritual divide and harm flesh and blood (Prov. 17:22).

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This is why since the founding of Persecution Project Foundation, spiritual hope has been just as much our focus as physical relief to our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

PPF’s Discipleship and Evangelism program is dedicated to the distribution of the “Bread of Life” to those suffering from physical and spiritual persecution. We know that physical aid can only satisfy for a moment. But the encouragement of the Gospel message of love, hope, and reconciliation can keep people going through even the worst of physical depravations. 

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Nearly all PPF physical relief provided to victims of war, genocide and religious persecution is distributed through the local church. Recipients see that the love of God towards them is such that He will bring help from thousands of miles away if necessary to provide His people with their “daily bread.”

  Pastors' conferences bring together and encourage the Nuba church.

Pastors' conferences bring together and encourage the Nuba church.

  Backpack projectors allow pastors to take the Good News anywhere.

Backpack projectors allow pastors to take the Good News anywhere.

 

In addition to physical relief, PPF provides Bibles, audio Bibles, and other discipleship materials to equip the local church in its mission of community outreach and evangelism. In 2017 alone, 18,423 Bibles were distributed in Sudan’s war-torn Nuba mountains, as well as 6,400 audio Bibles.

PPF also provides support to pastors and evangelists so they can devote most of their time to feeding their flock.

  Dairy cows and goats are provided for pastor support.

Dairy cows and goats are provided for pastor support.

 

 

While there is life, we must reach out in “active compassion” to be a healing balm to those who need it. But as bad as war, privation, and persecution can be, it is temporary at best because our earthly bodies are temporary.

 

 

  Physical bread with the Bread of Life distributed

Physical bread with the Bread of Life distributed

 

However, our souls are eternal, which is why distributing the “Bread of Life” is the greatest help any of us could give— or receive.

You can provide this help today by supporting our Discipleship and Evangelism Program.

                                                              Prayer: Food for souls

                                                            Prayer: Food for souls