The church crowd was so large they had to use every conceivable surface as furniture. Some sat among the rocks, others chose a shady spot of grass. There were even a few children viewing the proceedings from high up in trees.
The occasion? They had come to celebrate the graduation of 18 completing an Open Doors-supported Bible college in Sudan.
After the ceremony, families lined up to congratulate each graduate. Congregation members hugged students and passed along gifts to support them in their future ministry. Open Doors, too, had sent a special item for each of them: a bicycle to make their coming work just a little easier.
“I usually walk between five and six hours per day to serve our members. The weather is terrible for this,” One graduate explained, “But now I can travel much greater distances and still serve our members. Because of this bicycle, I can also travel and return the same day. I want to say thank you to all who supported us.”
For this congregation, the prospect of sending out students to dispense the hope of Christ to their beloved Nuba Mountains is an important, but sober calling. Just two years ago this same graduation ceremony was accompanied by the screaming engines of planes and the far-too-close explosion of bombs. For this reason, church members report they walk their communities with one eye to the sky, scanning for the all too familiar signs of imminent danger.
For over a year, though, the region has been noticeably less tense. In order to lift economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., the government of Sudan has been honoring a ceasefire with rebels fighting for independence. Although many locals don’t believe the agreement will hold after the sanctions end, the graduates at this ceremony intend to make the most of whatever down time they have.
The challenges and the needs in the Nuba Mountains are as varied and vast as they come, but none of these have stopped them from working hard to improve their shared lives. Earlier, when it became too dangerous to attend school in the buildings Open Doors provided, they continued classes in riverbeds and in the bush. But with the ceasefire now in place, the children are back in their school buildings and eagerly feeding their hunger to learn. In addition, the Bible college is able to support the church’s need for trained pastors to widen their ministry to many unreached communities.
Open Doors has been supporting local Christians in these efforts by providing food to the war-ravaged region, schooling for children and training for church leaders.
Despite the hardships they endure, many indicate they wish to remain in the region because they believe this is where God has planted them. Your support enables our brothers and sisters to do just this—to both survive in the Nuba Mountains and to be faithful in their witness for Christ.
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