ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Sudan desperately needs Southern Baptists to participate in a 40-day prayer emphasis for the war-ravaged African nation, Sudan’s ambassador to the United States said June 14 at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The 40 days are scheduled to begin Dec. 1 leading up a Jan. 9, 2011, national referendum in Sudan on whether to divide into two nations or remain under one government. Ambassador Akec Khoc hopes the vote will help bring an end to ongoing conflict between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.
“Prayer is needed,” Khoc told the Woman’s Missionary Union audience. “We are coming to you for prayer to our heavenly Father to give guidance to the leaders and the people of Sudan because it is only through Him that we can get peace.”
Sudanese Christians of many denominations are asking Southern Baptists to join in the prayer effort, that God would establish southern Sudan as a sovereign nation, free from ethnic and religious persecution by the heavily Muslim north. Believers also are asked to pray also for the salvation of non-Christians in Sudan.
The prayer initiative was first proposed by Ken Welborn, North American Mission Board missionary to the United Nations. He told Khoc, a native of the south and member of the shared Muslim and Christian Sudanese government, that asking Christians to pray for the referendum is a contemporary application of the scriptural command to call upon the Lord.
In response to Welborn’s suggestion, southern Sudanese leaders organized a program of prayer and fasting that will begin within the government and extend into the churches of each Sudanese region, including the most remote villages.
“I wanted to bring it to the WMU, for I know that they are prayer warriors,” Welborn told Baptist Press. “This is intense prayer. We want them to be praying. We want them to get their churches involved in praying.”
Khoc, a medical doctor and former general in the south Sudanese army, told BP he is a Coptic Christian and that Sudanese believers welcome Southern Baptists’ prayer support.
“The north has committed to respect the outcome of the referendum,” Khoc said. “So I believe that the north will respect it, but there may be elements both from the north and the south who may wish to spoil the referendum outcome. And it is these groups, north and south, that need God to take their hearts so they do not spoil this.”
Being a Christian is particularly difficult in Sudan because of ongoing pressure to convert to Islam, Khoc noted. That pressure, however, has not stopped him from living out his faith in Jesus.
Northern leaders say, “It would be good for you to be a Muslim,” Khoc said. “And when they make such remarks, knowing that I’m a Christian, I tell them, ‘You have chosen to be a Muslim. I have chosen to be a Christian, and I think it would be best for you to be a Christian. You will be saved if you are to be a Christian. You are not going to be saved by being a Muslim.’
“And in most cases, the conversation breaks down at that point.”
For additional information about the 40-day Sudan prayer initiative, contact Welborn at [email protected]
David Roach is a writer in Shelbyville, Ky.