[slideshow]At the end of the Khartoum vision conference in June 2010 the participants unanimously felt that a VC must be held in Juba, the capital of South Sudan before the January 9 referendum on dividing the country into two nations.
The conference, held November 9-13 in the South Sudan Hotel, was facilitated by the interim taskforce in Khartoum working with International AID Services.
We prayed that God would bring those who He would use to advance His Kingdom in Sudan. Forty-nine participants came from ten Churches/Denominations and eight organizations. The Churches/Denominations present included the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Africa Inland Church, Sudan Pentecostal Church, Catholic Church, Christian Brotherhood Church, Agape Fellowship Church, Living Water Church, Restoration & Reconciliation Church, National Pentecostal Churches of Uganda and Deeper Life Bible Church.
Organizations represented were: International AID Services, Rural Action Against Hunger, Samaritan Purse, Tear Fund, Open Doors, Every Home for Christ, Scripture Union and Jesus is Lord Ministry.
Pastor Franco Onaga and Stephen Langa presented (in English).
Concern about brokenness in families emerged as a strong priority. When the participants were taught about the importance of promoting healthy family relationships, and learned about the value of women as co-bearers of God’s image, a noticeable sense of relief came over the women. Their faces beamed with joy as they experience, maybe for the first time, a sense of affirmation and liberation from the destructive lies that have long enslaved women in Sudan. They could not hide their excitement! Two couples attended the conference together, and the following day, the women testified that transformation had already began in their marriages! One pastor was so convicted that he phoned his wife in Khartoum to ask her forgiveness, and promised to take her out for a date when he returned. We learned later that he fulfilled his promise and his shocked wife wondered what had happened to her husband as this was something he had never done since they got married!
Besides the impending referendum and broken families, other issues that arose during the conference included:
- the prevalence of negative aspects of culture and the inability of the church to handle/confront them,
- the effects of the war on Christians and the general population,
- the need for the church to be relevant in the community by meeting the total needs of people, and
- the need for the church to engage the state more effectively on national issues.
During the verbal evaluation, one of the participants said that to him, the message of the vision conference was “a master key” to all problems. Others said the conference provided many answers to long-held questions.
The evaluations indicated that most of the participants appreciated the relevance of the Gospel/Kingdom of God in all spheres of life and were very deeply touched and challenged to start living by God’s truth.
To the question “What is the most important thing you learned at the conference?” the answers included:
- “The lies in our culture and how Satan attacks our roots (foundation). Dealing with the foundation first is very crucial to me.”
- “Start with what you have where you are.”
- “Love for others and patience in ministry.”
- “I need to get involved in state affairs.”
- “I am an agent of change and must start with me personally, family level, church, community and nation.”
- “We cannot develop without the TRUTH.”
- “Love can break any stronghold in any society.”
- “It is so important to help the church to teach and live the entirety of the Scriptures = God’s complete revelation and plan for us humans.”
- “I have always tried to change my way of thinking to find a balance in my Christian walk and culture but didn’t have the knowledge and tools. Now I am empowered to apply the knowledge starting with me.”
- “I will not fear to influence my society (church/state) on Biblical worldviews.”
A key result of the conference was the creation of a Juba Taskforce of seven people to coordinate the Samaritan Strategy movement in Juba. They were given two immediate tasks. First, they are to serve as catalysts to encourage further dialogue between the Church and the state before the referendum to ensure a peaceful referendum and a peaceful post referendum period. Secondly, they will work on strategies to give more churches and church leaders access to Samaritan Strategy teachings. The Taskforce will also plan further vision conferences and vision castings for 2011.
Six members of the Interim Taskforce from Khartoum attended the Juba VC. They helped with logistics and assisted the facilitators. Attending this VC also served was a mentoring process for them and especially those who wish to become facilitators in future.
The SSA leadership plans to conduct a follow up visit in two or three months.
We are praying that the church will strike a healthy balance in relating with the state and avoid the trap of being used by the government and/or politicians to advance selfish interests instead of the agenda of the Kingdom of God. Of course we are also praying for a peaceful referendum and aftermath.
May the church of Jesus Christ continue to play her important role of discipling the nation of Sudan both before and after the referendum.
filed by Stephen Langa, Program Manager, North Africa Expansion Project