"How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)
The year 2016 was another record-breaker for PPF ministry outreaches.
We met or exceeded all our goals in every program category. God was very busy working through your generosity to bless His persecuted!
But the persecuted church in Sudan is not a passive recipient of help from PPF and the church in America. We too often see the persecuted church as a helpless victim instead of a part of the overall Body— which still functions despite its trials and tribulations.
We were reminded of the resilience of this part of the Body in 2016 through one of the most effective projects we ever supported: sponsorship of Pastor and Evangelist Conferences in the war-torn Nuba mountains.
In 2016, we sponsored several conferences, bringing together pastors and evangelists from the “Big Five” church denominations in the Nuba: Church of Christ, Evangelical Presbyterian, Episcopal, Catholic and Orthodox.
The conferences were a time of fellowship, encouragement, breaking bread together, team-building, planning local outreaches, and growing partnerships.
At the last conference of the year in December, 1,800 participants attended. It was the largest gathering of the Nuba church anyone could remember. One of the activities at the conference was community evangelism, where the pastors and evangelists broke up into teams and witnessed to the local community.
The first day, they recorded more than 300 conversions. During the week of the conference, 70 Muslim families came to Christ.
One Muslim convert stated: “I have never received this kind of love and compassion before.” Another convert was so moved by the actions of participants, he donated 1,000 Sudanese pounds to the Church (an enormous sum for people living in the Nuba).
The Pastor and Evangelist Conferences are the perfect location for Bible and Audio Bible distributions, because church leaders can then take the consignment back to their respective villages and language groups.
Additionally, most of PPF’s emergency aid, whether it be in the form of tarps for shelter, emergency food, blankets, or refugee kits, are distributed by the local church and used as a platform for evangelism with the Nuba people.
PPF aid is distributed without discrimination. Even enemy POWs receive gifts from the local church, led by the efforts and example of Pastor Morris Cartina.
One famous POW is Brigadier General Refaut Abdallah Ahmad, who was captured in 2013 and has been featured on the Al Jazeera network.
In 2016, Pastor Morris took the PPF team to visit General Ahmad, and during the interview, the General pointed to Morris and declared, “That is not a normal man! Every three months he visits me, bringing items to help me and my men. Shoes, clothes, sugar, salt, blankets, etc. He is NOT a normal man.”
May this be said of all of us.
When the enemy is on our doorstep, it often changes our perspective.
This is especially true of the Church. During peacetime, we have the luxury to argue and fight with each other about various points of doctrine. Some of the arguments are petty. Some are important. But rarely is one of the “important” issues of doctrinal divide the subject of Church unity. We treat unity as a luxury, not as essential to our survival.
In the Nuba mountains, unity of the Body is absolutely essential. It’s as important as other core doctrines of the Faith, because it affects everyday life. (John 13:35)
The statement “United we stand,” is not grounded on mutual need, as much as it is based on mutually shared benefits— those of being loved by a God who sent us His only begotten Son, for instance. The last recorded prayer of Jesus included the following statement:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)
Unity communicates a message to people. It certainly communicated a message to the 70 Muslim families recently converted in the Nuba. Were those families convinced of the Gospel message by examining the peculiar doctrinal positions of the presenter? No. They were convinced by the unity and testimony of the Nuba church. And “unity” is not the absence of conflict or disagreement. Unity is the determination to love and serve each other despite obstacles.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
Thank you for standing united with us, as we stand united with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Sudan!