Cultural and Spiritual Landscape
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Situation Summary

The first convert from the region of the upper Nile (modern Sudan) was the eunuch treasurer in the court of Queen Candace (Acts 8:26-40) around A.D. 37. In the sixth century, Christianity became the state religion of three kingdoms, Nobatia, Maqurrah, and Alwah, with capitals near the modern Nile River cities of Wadi Halfa, Marawi, and Khartoum respectively. These endured for 1000 years, withstanding waves of Arab attackers until they fell in the early 1500s, making way for rapid Islamization in the north. Primitive southern tribes were harvested for slaves and remained mostly pagan. [1]

During the century of British rule (mid-1800s to 1956), missionaries started schools, hospitals, and churches in the south but not in the north, where the rulers feared inflaming Muslim opposition. Cultural and economic distance between the Arabicized north and Black south increased. [2]

Shortly after gaining independence, civil war ensued. Since then, Sudan has known only eleven years of peace (1972-1983), making this conflict the longest of the 20th century and the costliest in human life since World War II. Since 1983, over two million southern black civilians have been killed and over four million have been displaced. [2] Following the Missionary Act in 1962 foreign missionaries had to leave. [3] In 1989, the central government mandated Shari’a law to be over both the north and the south. [4] In 1991, the Criminal Act made converting out of Islam a capital offense. [2]

Genocide and ethnic cleansing are nothing new in Sudan, where white Arab Muslims have been slaughtering, abducting, and enslaving black southern “infidels” for years. [5] So why the sudden interest in what has been happening in the province of Dafur? The blacks of Dafur are not pagans or Christians. They are Muslims. [6] When white Arab Muslims are slaughtering black pagans and Christians, world governments don’t notice, but when they start slaughtering black Muslims, it is suddenly genocide. [7]

Geography & Peoples

Some 45% of Sudan’s thirty million people are either Arabs or have been thoroughly Arabicized. Non-Arabic Muslim groups comprise about another 20% of the population. The major ones are: the Dinka (6%) who dwell along the White and Blue Nile and its major tributaries, the Beja nomads (2%) who roam hills along the Red Sea, the Nubians (1%) along the Nile in the north, and the Fur and the Zaghawa (1%) in the Marra Mountains of Dafur. [1]

Population Distribution Over 100 other ethnic groups with distinct languages comprise the remaining 35% of Sudan’s population. Two-thirds of these are Christians. One-third follow traditional tribal religions. Most of these non-Muslims live in the southern third of Sudan. At least forty different languages of both Muslim and Christian peoples are spoken in the centrally located Nuba Mountains. Many Dinka in this southern region are Christians. Arabic serves as a lingua-franca in the north. English serves that purpose in the south. [6]

Total Christians in Sudan number over five million in around 40 denominations. Protestant and Independents are close to one million. Anglicans claim over two million. Roman Catholics have over three million. Four different Orthodox traditions claim several hundred thousand. Nearly two million Christians live as an oppressed minority in the north, many of these as refugees in Khartoum which has a total population of over ten million. Evangelical Christianity is growing at an annual rate of seven percent. [8] From 1960 to present the ratio of Christians in the war torn south has grown from 5% to 70%. [9] Over 30 organizations from some 20 countries have missionary, relief, and development work in Sudan. [8]


1. Encyclopedia Britannica
2. www.family.org/fofmag/sl/a0024079.cfm
3. www.ecoi.net/doc/en/SD/indexfull
4. www.samaritan.org
5. www.uscirf.gov
6. www.ethnologue.com
7. www.nationalreview.com/comment/shea200406300855.asp
8. Operation World
9. www.worldevangelical.org/persec_sudan_05jun02.html

M I N I S T R Y     C O N T A C T     I N F O R M A T I O N    
Agency Type of Ministry Contact Data
Africa Inland Mission training church leaders www.aim-us.org
Association of Christian Resource Organizations Serving Sudan (ACROSS) evangelism, relief, & agricultural development. based in Nairobi, Kenya
Campus Crusade for Christ Dafur emergency relief fund www.ccci.org
Food for the Hungry relief & development www.fh.org
Frontline Fellowship advocacy, relief & development, evangelism & church support www.frontline.org.za
In Jesus' Name Ministries emergency relief www.injesusname.org
Living Water International resource development www.water.cc
MAP International medical supplies http://www.map.org
Persecution Project Foundation advocacy www.persecutionproject.org
Presbyterian Church USA community development www.pcusa.org
Operation Mobilization evangelism www.om.org
Samaritan's Purse medical care, famine relief & peace advocacy, evangelism & church support www.samaritan.org
South Sudanese Friends International (SSFI) reconciliation & community development www.southsudanfriends.org
WEA Religious Liberty Commission advocacy www.worldevangelical.org
World Vision Dafur health care www.wvi.org
YWAM Mercy Works emergency relief www.mercyworks.org