As you read these lines, Sudan is preparing for something it has not seen in nearly a quarter of a century: free, multi-party elections. People who, for decades, were hunted down like animals, tortured, and enslaved, will now have the opportunity to choose leaders representing their interests in the capital of Khartoum.
April could be the most significant month in Sudan's history to date... or not.
A casual glance at recent history shows that elections in Africa are not like those of its Western neighbors. Some have even joked that in many African countries, it has been "one man, one vote... one time."
The story goes like this: Great "reformers" campaign for an end of corruption and waste and a new dawn of prosperity and peace. But once elected to power, they crush all dissent and begin looting the public treasury in many cases worse than the hated predecessors.
This could very well be the scenario in Sudan's elections in April. Since 2005, Southern Sudan and Khartoum have enjoyed a very fragile and nervous peace, accentuated by occasional rows between Southern and Northern troops mostly in the border areas.
Additionally, inner-tribal conflicts have claimed thousands of lives in violent clashes, which Southerners argue, are funded and encouraged by the government in Khartoum to destabilize the South. Most of Sudan's valuable oil reserves are located in Southern Sudan. Consequently, the ruling government in Khartoum has a vested financial interest in trying to maintain its share of the $ billions of crude pumped out of the ground every year.
According to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed by North and South Sudan in 2005, Southern Sudan will have the right to vote on secession in 2011. The April elections are important, because they will show whether a referendum vote can be respected by the government of Khartoum. For years, Sudan's politics have been dominated by the National Congress Party (NCP), which was formerly called "The National Islamic Front."
The NCP was, and still is, led by Islamic terrorists. Economic greed makes secession with Southern Sudan undesirable, but the CPA also eliminated "Sharia Law" (radical Islamic law) in Southern Sudan. A vote of separation from Sudan means Sharia Law will be gone for good and that means the jihadists will have been defeated.
All of these factors play into the April elections and that is why PPF asks all its friends, supporters, ministry partners, and fellow believers to take time in April to pray for Sudan.
The April elections in Sudan could make history... or it could repeat history.
Christians should be careful not to put too much stock in elections. Sudan's problems are, after all, not fundamentally political but spiritual.
In fact, a major challenge in Sudan is that many people look to political leaders to solve all their problems. But God has warned us through King David not to "put our confidence in princes."
The peace in Sudan has allowed PPF to become "firmly planted" and our desire is to sink our roots even deeper, and have a larger impact blessing the Church.
It is for this reason that we pray for a positive outcome in the April elections. God has given us 5 years to grow and build. Five years to grow, after 22 years of war and destruction. But the spiritual war goes back much farther than 1983, 1956, or other key dates in Sudan's history. And the damage from this war is widespread and terrible.
But the message of the Gospel can, and has, turned this around. In April, 2010, and every other month of the year, our prayers should not be for one particular political outcome. But rather, "Not our will, but Thine be done!"
"Whate'er my God ordains is right: His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate'er He doth; And follow where He guideth;
He is my God; though dark my road, He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to Him I leave it all."