As Gateway News we feel called to “tell the God stories of Africa”. But that is easier said than done. From our perch here in the south of this beautiful continent how do we get to share what the Lord is doing in the other 53 nations?
And so I was pleased to receive an email recently from Pastor Manase Alfred, the national coordinator of Scripture Union in South Sudan informing me that he “witnessed the revival that happened in the nineties in Sudan” and inviting me to publish some of the revival stories that he has documented in a book.
I must say, that I have heard of brutal civil wars in Sudan and in South Sudan which became the world’s youngest country when it ceded from Sudan in 2011; and I recall the story of a brave Christian woman Meriam Ibrahim who gave birth to a daughter while chained in a Khartoum prison where she was on death row for refusing to convert to Islam and who was eventually released in 2014 as a result of international pressure; and more recently I have been hearing of glimmers of hope of religious freedom dawning in that nation in the north east of Africa which is still ranked 13th on Open Doors’ list of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian.
But before receiving Manase’s email I had not heard of a revival in Sudan in the 90s, so I gladly agreed to his proposal and this article is the first of several in which I will be sharing stories and reflections from his book.
In the preface to his book YCF Revival, Manase writes: “This book is an answer to a question asked by many Christians in the Sudan: ‘Why are all the things that God is doing in the Sudan not documented?’ Secondly, I would like to encourage those who are praying for the Sudan that their prayers are not in vain. What I have written cannot be compared with all that God is doing in this country.
“I challenge all Christians in the Sudan to be committed to the Lord so that the revival will continue. It is my prayer that the latter revival will be far greater than the present one.”
He goes on to write: “In the beginning of 1990 strange things began to happen through the Christians in the Sudan, especially among the youths. The civil war in the Sudan, especially in the south, made many Christians to go to the north. Most of them settled in Khartoum, the capital and continued with their Christian activities through hardship and persecutions.
“Groups of youths started to organize youth fellowships, prayer meetings, conferences and night vigils. God began to move in a special way. In these fellowships many people committed themselves to Christ to serve Him. Healings and casting out demons were commonly practiced. Many used to fall under the power of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and prophesying. Those who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit preached the word with boldness everywhere in the capital, praying with loud voices, fasting and having individual night vigils. Youth evangelized in schools and higher institutions. Mass conversions were taking place in conventions. As Jesus sent out his disciples and gave them power to preach, teach and cast out demons, and heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease, the youths started operating in that command and experienced many signs and wonders.”
Manase records that the revived youth, who called themselves the Young Christian Fellowship (YFC), met at the former Catholic Club near Khartoum Airport. There they encouraged young people not to leave their churches but to take the revival back to their churches, witness to sinners, disciple them and get them into churches.
He writes: “In our first prayer and fasting conference in 1992, many youths came from Malakal, Renk and Bantiu, towns in south Sudan, and Kosti, in western Sudan, to attend the conference. Through them the revival moved to those towns. We also organized out-reaches to various parts of the Sudan. Usually after the annual prayer and fasting conference, groups of youths would be sent to various towns to train youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, held youth conferences, Sunday school conferences, and family conventions and out-reaches to the neighboring villages and towns. We also distributed literatures and showed Jesus film. Through YCF fellowship of Christian University students (FOCUS), Association of Bible studies in secondary school were initiated and Power Team was established.
“The churches in the Sudan became suspicious of the youth because most of the youth groups in the churches began worshipping in the style of YCF. The youth meetings had become Pentecostal, as some of them said. Questions were being asked concerning the changes in the lives of the youths. Those who used to go to parties stopped participating in them; drunkards left drinking and the immoral stopped practicing immorality. Even the behavior of the youth in the families changed.
“What happened? That was a revival. What was the cause of all these changes? It was the work of the Holy Spirit. Young people committed themselves to live for God, to serve Him, pray, fast and study the word of God and preach. That was why the glory of God manifested itself. God began to speak through various ways to people. This confirmed the word of God in Joel: “And it shall come to pass that afterward I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall sea vision.”(Joel 2:28).
This was an answer to our prayers and those praying for the Sudan. As students in Egypt between 1985 and 1990, some South Sudanese students and I used to pray for one hour daily for revival to take place in Sudan.
“Despite the changes in communities, the families and the churches, there were still strong oppositions, not only from unbelievers, but from some of the church leaders. This was the question being asked: ‘How could young people who haven’t been to theological institutions preach the gospel in such boldness and perform wonderful things?’ However some of them realized the hand of the Lord in the movement. Up to the moment of writing this book we have pastors in almost most of the denominations in the Sudan and beyond. Members of YCF who migrated because of the war in South Sudan are leading churches in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordon, Syria, Australia, Kenya, Uganda, USA, etc. especially among Sudanese communities in these countries. YCF members, what I called ‘Products’, are working with many Christian groups or ministries operating in the Sudan, foreign or national.”
About Pastor Manase Alfred
Manase Woja Alfred is a graduate of Alexandria University, Faculty of Arts English Department. He also has a diploma in missions from CAPRO School of Missions, in Nigeria and he and his worked with Calvary Ministries for 10 years as missionaries. He has taught in different schools, institutions and churches. He is married to Efon Alesio and they have two children: Alice and Kenneth. They currently they live in Juba, South Sudan serving with Rebuilding Ministries International and work among students through Scripture Union of which Alfred is national coordinator in South Sudan.
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