The Sudan link group publishes a calendar each year. Rather than just looking at nameless photos of a foreign culture, we can get to read – and ponder the story behind those pictures.
This month’s photo is of Ahmed Ibrahim.
This is the human face of Christian ministry in Sudan, a work which is a fruit of the Spirit of kindness and faith. Called Ahmed Ibrahim, he is an Evangelist, not a lay reader or ordained, working with a team visiting prisons.
Ordinary people in Sudan get jailed by the police for little reason, and then have to pay fees or fines from which the police benefit. Women may be locked up for not being dressed in accordance with a local interpretation of Islam, or making a living running a street tea kiosk. Children, wandering from parents who perhaps having nothing with which to feed them, and no money for school fees, are imprisoned, not homed. There are no social services.
Ahmed survives on Diocesan honorariums, a lovely man of quiet faith, giving his days to help others in need. He himself has a problem with his eyes, which are getting worse and worse because he cannot afford medical help. The last time one of our visitors saw him they gave him what they had, to get help, but walked away with a sense of guilt at not being able to do enough.
Life is gradually changing in Sudan, following on from last year’s overthrow of its oppressive regime, but it has now been hit by a double whammy – high inflation and the coronavirus outbreak. Over the last year prices of basic food items have doubled and tripled, an enormous pressure on the Christian community which tends to come from the poorer part of the population, creating a daily struggle to survive.
Now the arrival of Covid-19 has caused a lockdown. People like Ahmed cannot move around and won’t be paid. The Christian community mainly live in densely built townships on the edges of the cities, with no medical facilities. There are no food banks in Sudan, and Islamic Aid customarily is not given to Christian believers.
The Church in Sudan is sometimes desperate for funds to help distressed people: the situation they currently face is becoming absolutely acute. In the past through our Link we have sent funding to help the Church in its caring ministry, including in prisons, but have encouraged them to look for sustainable projects. Right now the need is too great. In 2020 with overwhelming economic forces sapping the life of Sudan, we need simply to give for daily necessities. Our Link Working Group, alarmed by the situation in Sudan at the moment, has made this our number one priority.
Please pray for Ahmed, and the men and women who minister with him as they face great need with nothing in their hand.