We have done Gospel festivals in two cities in South Sudan. The first was Juba, the capital, and the second was in the city of Yei.
In the Missions Library at Yale University, one can find the handwritten letters of a British missionary named Karl Krumn, who served in the nation of Sudan from 1898 to 1907.
The missionary traveled the length and breadth of Sudan assisting Great Britain as a cartographer mapping central Africa. Periodically he sent a report back to his church in England. He reported on the great hunger for the Gospel among the tribes of Sudan. Entire people groups came to Christ because of his witness.
He recognized the great need in the nation and in almost every letter, he asked for more missionaries to be sent to Sudan. He wrote, “This nation is ripe to become a Christian nation. Please send missionaries now.”
He reported that one heathen tribe noticed that a Christian tribe stopped working and gathered together on Sundays. Because the chief wanted to be a Christian, he commanded all his people to stop working and gather together one day out of seven. They sat around and did nothing on Sundays because they did not know what Christians are supposed to do in their services. The chief begged for a missionary to come and teach his tribe about Christ.
The missionary noticed the creeping influence of Islam among the tribes and wrote his missions headquarters, “If we do not take advantage of this open window for the Gospel, this nation will become a Muslim nation.”
Towards the end of his life, his letters grew more desperate. He criticized, “For years I have been begging for missionaries to come, but no one comes. I fear that our opportunity to turn Sudan into a Christian nation is slipping away. I am afraid that Sudan will be conquered by Islam.”
Today, as we look at Sudan, we find that his fears were justified. All of north Sudan is Muslim. The Church missed one of the greatest opportunities to change this nation.
But today, we face a similar opportunity. After twenty-two years of war between north and south Sudan, a peace treaty has been signed. It is now possible to openly proclaim the Gospel in southern Sudan, but this window of opportunity may not last forever. If we do not act now, we may miss today’s opportunity.
From over a century ago, the English missionary’s words still ring true, “This nation is ripe to become a Christian nation. Please send missionaries now.”