The Spirituality of Christians in Sudan
The Spirituality of Christians in Southern Sudan – A Thesis
In 1999 and again in 2000 the author travelled into rebel held territory to share in seminars with church leaders, and heard remarkable stories of faith and forgiveness. Some of the stories told form the impetus for this research.
Using personal experience, a search of current literature, and the responses of a number of Southern bishops to a questionnaire, spirituality is examined in the context of the suffering caused by the civil war, which has destroyed the infrastructure and caused the death of two million people and the displacement of a million more. The relationship between emergent Southern Sudanese Christian faith and its cultural roots in African Traditional Religion are examined.
The picture that emerges is of a spirituality which is truly African, drawing from its own cultural roots, and alive to the voice of God in scripture. It is a church that holds fast to faith in the face of suffering, and has found freedom in the acceptance of human mortality. It is a church where community is strong, and every member’s gifts are recognised. While there is not a liberation spirituality of the kind that has emerged from South America, there is a thought out interfacing with the emerging civil, cultural and political situation.
As the Sudanese return to the south after a period of enforced exile, and start to rebuild their church, we may see parallels with the Western church, which finds itself beached as the sea of faith recedes, and which is struggling to discern the way forward. The relationship to the Western church is a prophetic one, showing new possibilities. Here is authentic Christianity being lived out, and this is perhaps the greatest gift of the Sudanese church to the Western world.