SOUTH SUDAN: The World's Newest Nation Emerges from Africa's Longest War

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. - 1 Cor 1:27a

On July 9, 2011, the six-year interim period of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement will come to an end. That same day, South Sudan will mark its independence and inauguration as the world's newest nation.

This comes following fifty years of war, persecution, genocide, and slavery by Arab-Islamist elites in Khartoum who have sought to dominate the African south ever since independence from Egypt and Great Britain on January 1, 1956.

The first war, which broke out in 1955 between the North and South just prior to independence, lasted until a peace was brokered in 1972. The 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement fell apart in 1983 when President Nimiery reneged on promises of autonomy for the South, and the country plunged back into war.

More than two million Southern Sudanese (mostly Christians) died in the most recent war - Anyanya II - which ended in January, 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Another five million people were uprooted from their homes and made internal refugees.

The strategy of the National Islamic Front - now National Congress Party - in the capitol of Khartoum, has always been to marginalize and divide the people of the South in order to rape, plunder, and spoil the land of its people and resources.

Rather than enriching its citizens, Sudan's oil, gold, gum arabic, timber, water, and wildlife have been squandered by the "Lords of War" for more than half a century.

After a brief period of peace during the 1970s, war began again in 1983 and was worse than before. But through the persecution, Christianity spread even more. Ironically, many Southern Sudanese came to Christ because they wanted to know the Person in whose Name they were persecuted.

Tertullian's famous quote "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church" is certainly true in Southern Sudan. The church in Sudan has been described as one of the fastest-growing churches in Africa.

Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement was remarkable in many ways, not the least of which was the dissolution of the National Islamic Front's "Islamic State" and the inauguration of Dr. John Garang, the first Sudanese Christian First Vice President. Now with the results of the historic Referendum for Self-Determination, we are witnessing the emergence of a Christian-led democratic nation birthed from within a collapsed Islamic state.

The birth of the Republic of South Sudan has been reported by many commentators as the fall of the Islamist "Berlin Wall" of Northern Africa.

In the February 28 edition of Newsweek Magazine, Sudan expert John Prendergast attributed "the breeze of freedom from South Sudan" as "a gale force wind" that was felt in Egypt.

All of these momentous changes throughout the Arab world have been credited by many experts to have been sparked by a backwater area of the world, inhabited by people the Arabs derogatorily refer to as "Abd" (meaning slave).

Yet it is these same people the Arab world considers "foolish" that God has used to "confound the wise."

Over the years, Persecution Project Foundation has introduced you to some of the Sudanese heroes of the Faith who have suffered great persecution simply because they were Christians.

You may recall the story of Joseph, a young boy in Northern Aweil who was abducted, enslaved, and survived torture and crucifixion.

Or Leah, a young blind girl who was beaten, raped, and left for dead by a marauding band of Popular Defense Force Troops while she was attending church at her home village of Bandura in the Nuba mountains.

Or Deng Deng, a small boy of less than 10 years who was abducted, enslaved, and eventually had both hands chopped off by his master.

These persecuted brothers and sisters have inspired us with their courage and faith.

It has been a great privilege to stand alongside a very heroic people during part of their journey from slavery to freedom.

When I first visited Southern Sudan, even as everyone prayed for deliverance from the oppressive regime in Khartoum, no one would have believed this day would come so soon. By God's mercy, as members of the same family, we have been able to witness this historic transformation.

Now, we must continue to work hard and pray that this hard-fought political freedom will be accompanied by true spiritual freedom, because we know that "where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17).

The fact that South Sudan is a free nation is cause for great celebration. Our hope and prayer is that South Sudan indeed becomes the "Berlin Wall" of Radical Islam, and its example continues to spread to other countries.

Your support of the Persecution Project Foundation has enabled us to minister to our persecuted brethren in the most neglected and restricted areas of Sudan.

Whether it has been through raising awareness, providing clean water, or medicine, or food, or Bibles, or pastoral training, your compassion and sacrificial giving to PPF have played a significant role in helping South Sudan emerge as the world's newest nation - a nation where Christians can worship freely without fear of persecution.

Our desire is to continue to stand with our brothers and sisters in South Sudan as they begin this new chapter in their walk with the Lord. And I would ask you to continue your walk with PPF.

Today may be a day of celebration. But the work has just begun. Thank you for continuing to stand with this ministry and these people.