An Amazing Reunion...

By Brad Phillips

Leah and her 5-year-old daughter, Susan, in 2003.

Leah and her 5-year-old daughter, Susan, in 2003.

In 2003, I was hiking through the Nuba mountains of Sudan. Each village I’d pass would have its own story of hardship and persecution regarding the long-running conflict in which Sudan’s Islamist government tried to exterminate the Nuba people using terror and food and medicine as weapons.

But the village of Badura stood out from the rest.

Leah planting her garden.

Leah planting her garden.

Badura was home to a young woman named Leah. I found Leah and her 5-year-old daughter planting seeds in their garden. They stopped working and came over to speak with me.

 

Leah told of how, in 1999 during a Sunday church service, Badura was attacked by the “Popular Defense Forces” (PDF) of the National Islamic Front government in Sudan.

The troops poured into Badura and everyone fled for their lives— except Leah.

You see, Leah was blind.

She was captured immediately. The men brutally beat and gang-raped this helpless girl, then left her for dead.

But Leah didn’t die. A few weeks later, she discovered she was with child.

Eight months later, her daughter was born. She named her Susan, which means “Graceful Lily”.

Leah told me that “what men meant for evil, God meant for good,” because Susan had been the eyes to help her mom live in very difficult circumstances.

Wow.

Through the years, I often wondered whatever happened to Leah and Susan. Then recently, I was in a village close to Badura. I was informed by a local pastor that Leah and Susan were still living and would like to visit again.

At the home of the pastor, I found Leah sitting with Susan (now a beautiful 18-year-old young woman) and it was an amazing reunion. Leah was still very small, as I remembered her. And she told me of how God had provided for her and Susan over all these years and hardships.

Presenting gifts to Susan and Leah

Presenting gifts to Susan and Leah

I brought some gifts for Leah and Susan, including clothes, shoes, cooking pots, soap, salt, blankets, etc. But the gift she most appreciated was a small solar-powered audio-Bible in Arabic and English.

Leah was overwhelmed with so many gifts that she told me she would share and distribute them to her community.

Again, wow.

I don’t know about you, but I think Leah has as good an excuse for being miserable as anyone I’ve ever known. Growing up in a warzone. Beaten and gang-raped as a child. Pregnant as a result of the rape. Raising a child alone— blind. I mean, this women ticks all the boxes!

But not only is Leah not miserable— she’s a joyful giver!

Susan and Leah - 2017

Susan and Leah - 2017

Our meeting took place right before Thanksgiving holidays. It gave me something to be very thankful about— and not that I won the "lottery of life" by being born in America to two loving parents and raised with every advantage compared to someone like Leah.

Rather, it gave me cause to be thankful for the honor and privilege of being in a spiritual family with giants like Leah and Susan.

But I am also grateful for you. Without God working through the generous support of the people reading these lines, I would never have met Leah in the first place and received (more than given) such encouragement.

Thank you! Thank you for supporting this ministry to the persecuted. It’s truly a ministry where the “givers” are blessed much more than the receivers. Leah proves this.

"Mobilizing" Pastors

From "Donkey Power" to Horsepower

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Pastors in Sudan's war-torn Nuba mountains are the main organizers of community outreaches.

But nearly seven years of a government-imposed blockade has caused widespread shortages of everything - including transportation options.

Many pastors must use "old technology" (i.e. donkeys) to travel long distances when coordinating outreaches.

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This is why Persecution Project supplies motorbikes to "mobilize" pastors, like those pictured.

By make a gift to PPF's Discipleship & Evangelism program, you have enabled these pastors to be on the road spreading the Good News of Christ to their communities. Thank you!

Mission Accomplished!

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Well Repair Update

Back in November, we contacted PPF supporters to let them know that our initial goal of repairing 77 wells was nearly complete, and we decided to increase our objective to 100. Each Nuba well can serve as many as 1,000 people. Many wells serve more. This means 100 wells can provide as many as 100,000 people with safe, clean water.

Our team wound up completing 116 repairs in 2017! Mission accomplished!

Water is life, and providing safe water to the persecuted in the Nuba mountains has been a tremendous platform to introduce people to the "Living Water" - Jesus Christ.

Thank you for supporting this vital program.

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Celebrating 20 Years of Active Compassion for the Persecuted Church!

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For the last 20 years, your prayers and financial support have provided the persecuted church in Sudan very tangible evidence of God's love for them through the ministry outreaches of Persecution Project.

What follows is a look back to remember all that God has done through your love and active compassion.

We hope it encourages you as much as it does us to see the Gospel being communicated in word and deed in some of the most remote and dangerous areas of the world.

We're told in 2 Timothy 3:12 that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." So, the "bad news" is that our work will never be finished. But the good news is that our work is all about the "Good News."

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Early Days: The Oil Field Genocide

When Sudan discovered oil reserves in its southern territory, plans for its exploitation involved "cleansing" the "rebel" groups living in the areas where drilling would take place. Entire villages were burned or bull-dozed by government troops.

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This was the "Oil Field Genocide." Many thousands perished from famine and exposure. PPF responded with emergency food relief and shelter items. We also brought in doctors and medicine, and Bibles for encouragement and evangelistic outreaches.

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Radio PEACE

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Information is power, and one of South Sudan's greatest challenges during the war years was communications. PPF requested and was granted permission to build a short-wave radio station, called Radio PEACE, which broadcasted mornings and evenings until peace was restored. The programming included Bible reading in several languages, pastoral sermons, and local and regional news. To support the station, PPF distributed thousands of solar-powered and hand-cranked short-wave radios around South Sudan.

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Darfur Genocide

The Darfur Genocide, which began in 2003, internally displaced millions of Darfuris - including hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese who fled to Darfur to escape fighting in South Sudan during the 1980s and 90s.

The refugees had nowhere to go, so many huddled on the South Sudan border with their families in a "no man's land." The area, called Jaac, had no functioning wells, so PPF began our 100 Wells Campaign to provide 100,000 Jaac refugees with safe, clean water.

More than 100 wells were dug, most by PPF, and the first medical clinic was established in 2005.

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PPF also sponsored pastor training and Muslim evangelism outreaches.

Upper Nile Boat Ministry

Much of South Sudan's Upper Nile region is flooded for half the year, making it very difficult for road transportation. Many people use the White Nile River and its many branches to access remote communities.

PPF began a Boat Ministry to supply small, fast boats for regional relief and evangelism programs.

Each boat transported one ton of aid as well as evangelists to oversee distributions.

The Nuba War

Throughout the 1990s, the Nuba were targeted for extermination by Sudan's Islamist government. In June, 2011, Sudan dictator, Omar al Bashir, sent in Ahmed Haroun (the architect of the Darfur Genocide) to the Nuba to "finish the job."

PPF immediately launched several outreaches, including emergency borehole repair, relief and shelter distribution, medical outreaches, and even hospital construction. We also began sponsoring conferences to bring together regional pastors for discipleship, training, and encouragement.

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Medicines being delivered

With the Nuba war now in its seventh year, PPF continues to play a vital role in protecting the lives and interests of more than 1 million Nuba people.

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On behalf of all those we've been privileged and blessed to serve by God working through your love, thank you! Thank you for partnering with PPF in "Active Compassion." Thank you for loving your persecuted family members. We look forward to the next 20 years of ministry together!

Rashid's Story

Rashid's life has been changed by your compassion.

Rashid's life has been changed by your compassion.

Over the years, we have met many men and women like Rashid. Most are paralytics due to polio. And all have a hard life. 

Rashid is from the Nuba mountains of Sudan, an area which has been subject to a massive humanitarian blockade by the Islamist government since 2011.

Rashid's life has radically changed because of the compassion of PPF's donors. God has used their love to literally raise him up.

Rashid received one of the many wheelchair tricycles PPF has delivered to the Nuba to help people like him.

When confronting a wicked regime fixated on persecuting people like Rashid, we're not waiting on a political solution before intervening. We're doing it right now. With your continued help, we'll keep doing it.

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Forgotten or Ignored: The Conflict in Sudan's Nuba Mountains

A hostile and devastating conflict between the Sudan government and rebels threatens to upend the country's progress and prospects for peace with the passing of each day.

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[Editor's Note: This informative article by Tom Rhodes highlights the plight of our Nuba brethren, as they struggle to survive in a world which increasingly ignores their cry for help. Articles like this remind us how important our relationship is to the Nuba people, and how privileged we all are to walk beside them in Active Compassion.]

By Tom Rhodes

Mohamed Adam stared at the burnt rubble in front of him, oblivious to the heat of the noonday sun as he surveyed all his hard work, his home and food storage preparations, destroyed in a matter of minutes. A melted cassette can be seen peeping out of the ash piles, a Congolese pop album that his son had listened to incessantly. The Antonov, one of Sudan's bumbling warplanes, bombed his house and food storage - forcing him and his family to survive on the goodwill of neighbors. Mohamed, a clerk for the rebel governor in the Nuba Mountains, was at his office that day in May, 2016 when the Antonov flew overhead. When the deafening bomb dropped, he panicked and rushed to his home. "Thank God my family was safe," he said.

Adam's wife, Husna Mohamed, and her two children managed to hide in a "foxhole" (a hole in the ground used to hide from shrapnel spread by government bombs) and survived. The lid covering the hole, however, caught on fire and slightly burnt the leg of their three-year-old child Munasid Mohamed. The young girl was rushed to the local hospital in Lewere for treatment, one of two facilities in the entire rebel-controlled area.

According to Johannes Plate, a medical field coordinator for the small but crucial hospital supported by the German Emergency Doctors organization, the Sudan government has repeatedly attempted to bomb the hospital. Like Adam's house and all homes in the Nuba Mountains, the hospital has foxholes around the building in case a warplane attempts to bomb it. "I hope you can see they are not just bombing military targets but civilians," Adam said. "In Syria, the international community responded very quickly, why not to us? Are we not human beings like them?"

Thousands of Nuba families live in caves.

Thousands of Nuba families live in caves.

The citizens of Nuba are currently experiencing a cessation of hostilities between the government and rebel army, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N), but Antonovs occasionally circle above without bombing.

The ongoing conflict in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State is largely ignored. When internal fighting broke out in South Sudan's capital, Juba, in December 2013, what little support the South Sudan government provided to the Nuba had waned further. Sudan placed South Sudan's President Salva Kiir under pressure to end support to the SPLM-N with the agreement that Khartoum would not support South Sudanese rebels targeting Kiir's government. While there is physical evidence of the Sudan government's support to these rebels in 2011 and 2012, there has not been any verifiable evidence of the same in recent years. This is partly due to U.S. pressure on Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to cease any meddling in South Sudanese affairs in return for the U.S. to lift nearly 20 years of economic sanctions. Along with oil interests, the U.S. has invested heavily in South Sudan.

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Political interests and objectives at play

With new political interests in Sudan, the West and the U.S. in particular have little interest in the Nuba Mountains. The U.S. may lift sanctions against Sudan in October this year* - largely in return for Khartoum's non-interference in South Sudan, and, more importantly, for alleged anti-terrorism support. The European Union (EU) is also keen to improve relations with Sudan after funding the Sudan government in late 2015 to curb transitory migration across the country's borders. "Both the UK and U.S. believe there are more important geopolitical interests at play in the region than the fate of Sudan's minorities," says Professor Samuel Totten. "Insofar as time is spent on Sudan in Washington or London, the U.S. and UK have calculated they have more to gain by appeasing Khartoum than by challenging it."

Besides a lack of regional and international political interest, there is also very little media interest due mainly to issues of access. Khartoum has banned reporting in conflict areas. Sudanese authorities detained and questioned editors of the private daily Al-Tayyar twice this month for having the audacity to interview the Nuba rebel leader Abdulaziz Al-Hilu. For local and foreign media to gain entry into the rebel-controlled areas of the Nuba Mountains or Blue Nile State is extremely taxing - the rainy season muddies roads to the point that access is intractable half of the year. And even when a reporter manages to reach the Nuba Mountains, selling the story is another challenge in and of itself.

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Unlike the heart-pounding bombing campaigns reported in Syria's six-year conflict, the war in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile is a war of attrition, whereby Sudan's government forces conduct intermittent attacks to ultimately starve the populace into submission. Sudan's forces continue to occupy two key agricultural areas and have seized farmland in over 20 locations in the Nuba Mountains. Pro-government militias raided and looted villages on at least 16 occasions in April and May this year. "It's done purposely," said Ali Abdelrahman, Director of the Nuba Mountains Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO), a community-based support group. "To set fire to people's homes, to drive away livestock - purposely to get them hungry. Once you get into that situation, you [either] die or join government-controlled territories whereby youth are recruited against their own people."

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There is still no humanitarian access to the Nuba Mountains at a time when nearly 10 percent of the population faces severe malnutrition rates, according to the South Kordofan Blue Nile Coordination Unit, an organization that monitors food insecurity in the two areas. But limited media coverage and political interest is keeping a seemingly inevitable food crisis largely unknown to the global and Sudanese audience alike. "Even if the world has forgotten us we will keep going," said Zachiah Issa Abdullah, a rebel soldier from Delami County in the Nuba Mountains. "When the ground fighting begins, I only think of those we have lost and, at the same time, I think of my children back home. Then I go forward, reminding myself who I am fighting for."

*Sanctions were lifted on Friday, October 6th

PPF's Emergency Well Repair Team Update

Well Repairs

Well Repairs

Since beginning the Emergency Well Repair Project in the Nuba mountains in 2013, PPF's repair teams have fixed 457 safe water wells.

As impressive as this is, many hundreds of wells remain broken and half a million Nuba have no access to safe water.

PPF has launched a new Peer-to-Peer platform called WarzoneWells.com to raise $50,000 to fund the repairs of at least 50 more wells.

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More than 80 percent of diseases in Africa are directly related to drinking dirty water.

Please visit WarzoneWells.com today to start using your community to serve the Nuba community!

Children drinking from hand-dug wells

Children drinking from hand-dug wells

A Nuba Hospital for the Nuba People

Dr. Ahmed Zachariah is a special individual.

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He could have chosen to practice medicine in the comfort of Sudan's capital city - or even abroad. Instead, his Christian faith led him to choose the path of hardship and service to his people by remaining behind in the war-torn Nuba mountains.

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Dr. Ahmed had no medicine. He had no equipment. He had no hospital. Now, he has all three - thanks to the generosity of PPF's ministry partners and his own resourcefulness.

PPF's medical program has equipped Dr. Ahmed with vehicles, medicine, equipment, and building supplies so that he can build a proper hospital for a region with precious few medical resources spread over a vast landscape.

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The hospital construction is progressing well, and patients are already receiving a surprising level of care for such a remote territory. Dr. Ahmed told us he's even receiving patients from South Sudan, who walk across the border because Ahmed's incomplete hospital is the best medical facility in the area.

We praise God for His grace and mercy in giving us the compassionate heart of Dr. Ahmed. And we praise God for your "active compassion" for our brothers and sisters in Sudan!

PPF in the Nuba: Six Years of Service

The conflict in Sudan’s Nuba mountains has surpassed its sixth year, with unfortunately no clear end in sight. During this time, the Islamist government in Khartoum has tried to terrorize and starve the Nuba out of their homeland. The Nuba is home to the largest Christian community in Sudan outside the capital city.

Most humanitarian organizations left the region very early into the conflict.

But that’s when PPF showed up.

On July 4th, 2011, our assessment team arrived in the Nuba on one of the last relief flights into Southern Kordofan State.

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In August, 2011, we testified before an emergency hearing on Capitol Hill to warn Congress of the danger of a “repeat of Darfur” taking place.

Our team then set about the process of reaching out in active compassion to the Nuba community left behind, and those seeking refuge in neighboring South Sudan.

The generosity of ministry partners helped us start several outreaches, including deliveries of important relief and shelter supplies and medicines. Our Discipleship and Evangelism program has sponsored Pastoral Conferences, as well as the distribution of tens of thousands of Bibles, audio Bibles, and other discipleship materials to the growing Nuba church. And our Safe Water Program began repairing broken well pumps spread throughout the Nuba region, providing clean water for hundreds of thousands of residents.

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Although the war has dragged on, creating famine conditions, the situation in the Nuba is much better than it would be had PPF not intervened. The head of the Nuba Medical Consortium, Tutu Turkash, stated that he didn't want to think about what it would be like if PPF was not working in the Nuba. “Having them with us here, where few others will come, it’s a game changer,” said Turkash.

The Church Militant

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The Nuba church is growing amidst the conflict. With this growth, we can expect an increase in persecution from the Islamist government (II Timothy 3:12).

It is a very unfortunate reality that US government policy towards Sudan has changed since the days when economic sanctions were first enacted and strengthened by Presidents Clinton and Bush, respectively.

Regardless of whether one believes sanctions are an effective way to change policy in Sudan, the truth is that President Obama put the US on a definite track to “normalize” relations with one of the most brutal terrorist regimes in the world. And, as of this writing, President Trump’s administration seems to believe the Obama track is the right course to take.

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But the Nuba church knows that no matter which way the winds of politics shift, its mission will not change— for the church serves a Government that NEVER changes. This Government has a compassionate King, Whose reign will go on, and vanquish all competing parties with mercy, justice and love.

The church in America serves the same King, and with the continued support of its members towards our brothers and sisters in the Nuba, PPF will continue its mission of “active compassion” for the persecuted.