At the Lausanne Movement's Cape Town 2010 congress, Christianity Today editor in chief David Neff met with Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director of the World Evangelical Alliance, and 28 representatives of Christian churches in Sudan—some from the traditionally Muslim North and most from the Christian and animist South. Tunnicliffe and Neff listened to the Sudanese delegates' worries about what might happen if their upcoming referendum on independence for southern Sudan resulted in a vote for secession. They also heard the Sudanese plead for prayers and request resources to help them resettle a potential flood of displaced persons.
After they returned from South Africa, Neff asked Tunnicliffe to explain to CT readers the nature of the upcoming vote and the reasons for Christians around the globe to engage in prayer for this election.
You recently met with church and government leaders in Sudan. What happened at that meeting?
This meeting took place in Juba between the heads of churches for the entirety of Sudan—both northern and southern church leaders, heads of all the denominations—and with the leaders of the southern Sudan government, including the president and vice-president and members of cabinet. During those three days, they discussed the role of the church in the upcoming referendum and how the church might be involved in making sure that the referendum was fair and free of violence.
Why is this referendum, scheduled for January 9, so important?
Sudan has experienced civil war for the last 50 years with just a few breaks. When the civil war ended five years ago, the agreement was that there would be a vote, a referendum held by the south Sudanese to determine whether they ...