Christian Chronicle, May 2004 » Missionaries move toward open doors in Sudan, Angola
By Erik Tryggestad
After seeing the overflowing refugee camps and under-stocked hospital in Nimule, Sudan, a group of visiting church members and their Sudanese hosts climbed a nearby hill and raised a stone altar — a pledge that they would not forget.
“We prayed that God would bring us or some of our people back to that land to serve and advance the kingdom of God,” said Sam Shewmaker, missionary in residence at Harding University, Searcy, Ark., who led the survey trip in summer 2003.
One year later, missionaries and medical supplies are on their way to the east African country, which is recovering from 17 years of civil war between the Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.
Church members also plan to enter Angola, in southwest Africa, after a 27-year internal conflict ravaged the country.
In early 2004 Michael Campbell, president of Harding’s student government, rallied missions-minded students to help raise $17,000 for a 40-foot container of medical supplies for the Nimule hospital, just north of Sudan’s border with Uganda.
The students partnered with relief ministry Healing Hands International and the Mbale, Uganda, mission team to make the delivery. “Our hope is that this gesture of goodwill and compassion will serve to build rapport with local officials and open the door to a new mission in Sudan,” Shewmaker told the Chronicle.
Earlier this year, the Mbale team selected Kenyan church members Kennedy Obura and David Bikokwa as missionaries to Sudan. The two men and their families plan to move to Sudan this summer, where they will “preach and evangelize ... establish a mission compound and Bible school ... mobilize interested Christians, and start English classes for government officials,” said Mbale team member Shawn Tyler.
The church in Kapkoi, Kenya, where Bikokwa has preached for two years, had a send-off for the missionary and his wife, Anne, in mid-March. Mbale team member Phillip Shero said it reminded him of the send-off he received before he left for Uganda. Shero spoke about the challenges the pioneering couple will face — including different languages and customs.
“It felt strange to warn their bright faces of the hardships that will come. But it was also exhilarating,” Shero said.