Visiting our brothers and sisters in Sudan - May 2022

Dear Relay Trust Family

The Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) is a relatively new independent Province of the Anglican Communion, having been established in 2017, following the split from the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. The church sits in a challenging situation, in a predominately Muslim country, which for years was under US sanctions, and continues to have troubles in the political sphere. The COVID pandemic meant that much of the support to the church was reduced and current food shortages are also starting to impact the country due to the current conflict in Ukraine.

I visited the country to spend time with and build a relationship with our brothers and sisters within the ECS. The Relay Trust is seeking to partner with the ECS to help provide great low level theological training to catecists across the church. It is primarily doing this through a Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program, produced in Arabic by another of our partners, the PTTE in Jordan.

The visit was timed to coinside with a visit from my collegue, Andy Wheeler, and members of the Diocese of Leeds, who have been supporting the ECS for many years. Andy has decades of experience delivering TEE in both South Sudan and Sudan, and has led the re-introduction of the TEE program following the opening up of travel post pandemic.

Shukai Bible Trainining Institute
TEE Training at SBTI with Zoom to PTEE (Jordan)

Andy ran a very successful train the trainer course for facilitators from all five dioceses of the ECS. The course was a week long and took place in the new TEE Wing of the Shukai Bible Training Institute in Omdurman. This course will enable the facilitators to return back to their dioceses and guide students in the completion of the life transforming training.

Sudan in May is hot with highs between 39 and 45 Celsius, which should not be underestimated by even the most experienced traveller. Khartoum, the country’s capital is one of ‘The Three Towns’ which are dominated by the White Nile (West) and Blue Nile (East). As a result, the area around the Towns is greener than the temperature should allow. Khartoum is to the south of both rivers, with the ancient town of Omdurman to the West of the White Nile and North Khartoum to the East of the Blue Nile. I had the pleasure to explore much of the towns, as well as spending times at the key ECS location in Khartoum and Omdurman.

Another of the key functions of the visit was to determine how to improve the online communication of the church. I genuinely thought it would be a challenge in the heat and with my pretty ropey Arabic, but I was expertly guided around the internet infrastructure in Sudan by one of the young men in church, who also was a great guide around the shops and markets to find the right equipment to support the communication and training across the ECS.

Author with a member of the church
Two of our brothers in Omdurman
The visit ended with a great opportunity to meet the bishops from across the Province at their Council of Bishops. Hearing the stories of their experiences in the service of the Lord within Sudan was inspiring, and I was astonished about the joy and love they exhibited, despite the tremendously challenging lives they had lived and their genuine expectant sense of hope in the face of the challenges to come.
Andy Wheeler and the team at SBTI