In response to escalating conflict in South Sudan, most of the the Cush4Christ team was evacuated
today to Kenya.
Most of you are probably aware of clashes erupting in recent days in the Abyei area (about 80 miles NE of our mission, and the link will take you to the latest articles from the BBC) between the Northern Army and South Sudan Army (SPLA). However in addition to that clash, there have been major troop buildups along the North/South border including an area just about 40 miles north of our mission. In addition, there is great unrest with reports of troops seizing vehicles (some to travel to the front lines, others to flee the front lines) and other associated acts of violence (at least 2 within 2 miles of our compound in the last 48 hours). Finally, our sources within the SPLA expect a major Northern Army air and land offensive to begin in the next two days.
Therefore, the Cush4Christ team in consultation with RPGM determined that it was time to enact the evacuation plan. While none of us knows exactly what will transpire in the next few days, it seemed prudent to get our team out of Sudan before the situation deteriorated further.
Here is the status of our team:
The Ward family was already in Nairobi, Kenya this week for a regularly scheduled resupply and rejuvenate trip.
The Faris family is on the chartered evacuation flight and will reach Nairobi soon. (The Faris family is scheduled to be in the US for 2 months from late June-August, so they will try to move their flight up.)
Jan Buchanan is on the evacuation flight. Unfortunately, Jan just arrived in Sudan a week ago, so barely had time to settle in.
Scott Brinkerhoff is remaining in Sudan for the present time to further secure the compound and continue the radio ministry, but plans are in place for him to join later evacuation flights through Samaritan's Purse or the UN depending on the developments. We have every reason to believe that his life is not in danger, and are thankful for his willingness to continue behind to wrap things up. For obvious reasons, it is less conspicuous for a single man to travel about and easier to find shelter at the UN compound if needed and room on later evacuation flights than for an entire family to do these things.
Your prayers for God’s people in South Sudan are greatly needed. Over these past few years, we have marveled at the way that God has brought forth Sudanese men for ministry, how He has seen fit not only to provide pastors, but ruling elders and deacons for this multiplying church with over 1300 members.
Please pray for the ministers and officers of His churches in Southern Sudan. May God grant them wisdom, courage, and the Spirit’s leading as they assume an even greater leadership role among the saints.
Please pray for the safety of the saints and that these clashes would soon end and that Christ’s churches might again enjoy peace as they grow and develop.
Pray that God’s Word through radio broadcasts in the area might also be used of God to strike at the heart of those currently engaged in the clashes and that they will be moved away from conflict and instead pursue the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
Give thanks for a safe evacuation of the missionaries and pray that the time away from Sudan will be short and well-used.
Pray for the children of the missionaries in this time as such changes can be stressful not only for parents but for the young as well.
Obviously, we will be monitoring the situation and making further plans as the situation becomes more clear. As further news becomes available we will let you know. Signed, Matt Filbert.