Midnight arrival of world’s youngest, Christian nation

Click on this photo to learn about the John Dau Sudan Foundation's work in South Sudan.

The world’s newest nation, and one of the poorest, came into being at midnight on July 9. The Republic of South Sudan gained its independence after decades of civil war with northern Sudan and more specifically following a 99% vote for independence in a referendum held in January this year.

The 10 southern states of Sudan now form South Sudan and the population of more than $8 million consists largely of Christian and animist Africans in contrast to the Muslim Arab north.

As well, South Sudan contains between 75-80% of Sudanese oil reserves although this has not benefited local people in the past due to northern domination and violent civil conflicts.

And while estimates vary as to the extent of Christianity, some statistics report South Sudan as having 2,009,374 practicing Roman Catholics and a large membership in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan as well as smaller Christian denominations. How many people identifying as Christian are also incorporating traditional animist practices is another matter.

For a fascinating history of Christianity in South Sudan and indeed north Africa, visit The Sudan Project blog (article written in 2006).

One area of conflict that continues between Sudan and South Sudan is the disputed area Nuba Mountains region where violence continues between the largely Christian and pro-Sudanese People’s Liberation Army Nuba people and northern government forces.

Nubian Christianity traces its origins to the “Ethiopian eunuch” who come to faith through Philip the evangelist who ran alongside the man’s chariot and explained to him how the Old Testament scriptures pointed to Christ.  The story is recorded in Acts 8 from verse 26 and concludes with the African man being baptised in a pool beside the road.

‘The “Ethiopian eunuch” of Acts was in fact not from the land today bearing that name, but from Nubia. (The queenly title given in Acts 8:27, Candace, is peculiar to the ancient Nubian kingdom of Meroe.)’ – From Nubian Christianity – the Neglected Heritage by Paul Bowers.

With such a strong link to the very earliest days of Christian faith, it is fair to say that the youngest nation in the world is also the youngest Christian nation.Read More »

His friend the ex-mercenary finds God

My Friend the Mercenary by James Brabazon is one of the most brutal, true stories you may ever read and yet streaming through it is a remarkable and unlikely friendship.

Brabazon was just beginning his career as a documentary maker and war-correspondent when he was invited to film rebels fighting against dictator Charles Taylor in Liberia, west Africa.

He was introduced to one of Africa’s most notorious mercenaries, Nick du Toit, who had an ambiguous history as part of South Africa’s special forces at the tail end of apartheid.

As James discovered, the sheer need to survive turns the theoretical world of objectivity on its head but also allows friendships to forge that might not otherwise exist.

Alongside the brutal description of rebels executing government soldiers and in one case cutting them up and eating their heart, there is a remarkable, tender portrayal of friendship between two men of different backgrounds.

After Liberia, James is invited by Nick to film the overthrow of the government of Equatorial Guinea. He is part of a small band of mercenaries who are working for the instalment of an exiled leader to replace yet another brutal, corrupt ruler.Read More »