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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to sharing with you what God is doing through our Active Compassion!
The Islamist's Ultimate Weapon
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
In Sudan, children are everywhere. Thank you for loving them.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Ahmed Zachariah is a fearless physician who has chosen to use his skill to alleviate the suffering in Sudan’s Nuba mountains. His courage and determination have galvanized the community to assist him in building a hospital to alleviate pressure on the only referral hospital in the Nuba, located several hours away by car.
Persecution Project is committed to helping Dr. Ahmed and his friends by providing material support towards the construction of the new hospital. Your gifts to PPF’s Medical Services Program or “Where Needed Most” can make this project a reality in 2018.
By Brad Phillips
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
From "Donkey Power" to Horsepower
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.
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!