Nuba Mountains - March 2023

In March Simon Tustin, the Executive Officer of Anglican International Development, embarked on a important visit to the Nuba Mountains in Sudan on behalf of the Relay Trust. During his visit Simon spent a week alongside Bishop Andudu, who is based in a small village located in the remote Nuba Mountains. The primary objective of the trip was to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the progress of Relay Trust supported projects, which encompass vital aspects such as internet provision, the establishment of a secondary school, and the construction of a theological college.

The context in which these projects unfold is one of immense challenges faced by Christians in Sudan over the years. Seeking refuge, Bishop Andudu, his family, and numerous Christians from the Kadugli Diocese have sought security in the Nuba Mountains. Although this area falls under the control of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), it does not guarantee safety. The region remains vulnerable to bombings and in June 2016, a punitive raid resulted in the deliberate destruction of Grace Secondary School, located near Bishop Andudu’s home. Simon was personally shown the ruins of the school and the remains of a destroyed tank, and other remnants of the fierce fighting that had taken place.

The Nuba Mountains, situated in South Kordofan, rise to over 1,400 meters and span across 19,000 square miles. Its has also been cut off from much relief work due to the SPLM-N’s long running conflict with the government in Khartoum.  This has brought hardship to the area, but despite this, the church has experienced remarkable growth in this remote and secluded area. Bishop Andudu conveyed,

“Many non-Christians have joined the church, and there has been a real revival going on in the Nuba Mountains. We have been able to maintain our Christian lives despite the suffering.”

Responding to Bishop Andudu’s call for support in 2019, Relay Trust and Anglican Aid in Australia have since stepped forward to provide assistance, particularly in the areas of education and theological training.

Since the attack which destroyed Grace Secondary School it has been relocated.  Simon had the opportunity to meet with the teachers and students in their temporary classrooms and observe the ongoing construction of the new school buildings. Currently residing in tukuls, traditional huts, the students eagerly await the completion of the new facilities. When inquired about their preference for new buildings, one student explained that the constant presence of snakes in the tukuls posed a significant concern.

Another notable development is the newly completed Diocesan compound, now equipped with functioning satellite internet connectivity. Additionally, Simon had the opportunity to tour the newly constructed Korkel Theological College, where he engaged with and interviewed several theology students.

Unfortunately, Sudan has experienced renewed conflict since April 2023, with clashes between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Army troops, particularly affecting the security of Christians in regions such as Darfur. The future remains uncertain for Christians in the Nuba Mountains as well, although they currently find themselves in a relatively more secure position compared to Darfur and even Christians in the capital Khartoum.  However, one direct consequence is that prices of essential supplies, including seeds and tools for agriculture, have risen steeply, increasing the hardship felt by Christians in the Nuba Mountains.  Ongoing prayers and support for Christians in all areas of Sudan are greatly needed.