Lessons from South Sudan

Recently, John Ewart traveled with Danny Akin and Scot Hildreth, director of the Center for Great Commission Studies, to the Uganda-Sudan border to meet with pastors and their wives from the South Sudan Baptist Convention. In the excerpt of his post below, John details the reasons for the meeting and the lessons learned from these persevering brothers and sisters.

As I write this post, I am sitting in front of a desk fan about the size of a grapefruit in the mid day heat of Uganda not far from the borders of both the Congo and South Sudan. I am here with our president, Danny Akin and Scott Hildreth, director of our Center for Great Commission Studies. We are leading a conference for pastors and their wives from the South Sudan Baptist Convention. It is difficult to describe what all these brothers and sisters in Christ have endured over the last years and especially the last few months.

 

Sudan and South Sudan have experienced civil wars that first pitted Muslims against Christians and more recently tribe against tribe. The most recent conflict broke out in South Sudan in December 2014 and saw two tribes with competing political aspirations fighting one another. This is an extremely simplistic summary of a very complex situation.

 

One very unfortunate result of this conflict has been the division of the church along tribal lines as well. We are here at the request of the South Sudan Baptist Convention and the IMB team to minister to and equip these leaders to go back into the church of South Sudan and bring unity and healing. It is obviously a great privilege for us. We are meeting in northern Uganda instead of South Sudan due to security issues because the tension between tribes is so intense and might spill over into our meeting.

Read the full post at the CGCS blog, here.

 

February at the CGCS

During the month of February, the Center for Great Commission Studies ran some excellent blogposts on the key current events and missiological issues of the month. Scot Hildreth, Greg Mathias, and others wrote some very insightful posts. Here’s their recap:

It’s been a big month, one where culture, current events, and worldview have been featured on our site. We thought it helpful to provide you with a list of our favorite posts of the month. We’re really happy to challenge you to think and live missionally in light of what’s happening around the country and world.

Check out the four key posts from the CGCS folks here.

The Faith of the Coptic Christians

Recently, Scott Hildreth, Director of the Center for Great Commission Studies, wrote about the faith of the 21 Coptic (Egyptian) Christians killed by ISIS. Here is an excerpt from his post: 

The 21 men who were killed on the beach in Libya were killed BECAUSE of their professed faith. The sadistic evil doers made this profession on their behalf before the murders. Their captors confessed that these men were “people of the cross.” In this testimony I hear the echoes of Daniel’s enemies who said they could not find any fault in him unless it was his faith. These men were killed because their captors believed they were Christians.

I can assume (and yes, it is only an assumption) that these Islamic extremists would have pressed for, and been content with, these men converting to Islam. Based on my knowledge of these types of situation, I imagine these men were provided opportunities to renounce their faith and embrace the faith of their captors. Clearly they did not. They were murdered because they were men “of the cross.” On the basis of this testimony through the lips of their captors, and their lifestyle “not loving their lives even unto death,” Southern Baptists (and the rest of the Christian world) are right to hallow these men as martyrs and identify with them as brothers in the faith.

Our show of solidarity is not a declaration that the entire Coptic community is Christian. Rather, it accepts the testimony of these 21 men as valid based on profession and demonstration. We accept the testimony of a Baptist and would mourn their martyrdom even if we had not known them personally, though we all know that many who carry the label Baptist are not regenerate. In the same way, it is good and right that we identify with our brothers “of the cross” whose lives were taken because of this testimony.

Our solidarity with them does not make an entire people group Christians, and was never intended to do so. But based on what we have seen from a clear witness in front of a watching world, that same solidarity should also not be interpreted as cowardly or in any way abandoning the faith.

May these men receive the reward of their faith and may the Lord judge their murders with justice and most of all, may he grant to us all the faith to face whatever opposition we will with the same faithfulness they demonstrated on that Libyan beach.

Read the full post and comments here.