"What message do you have for American Christians?" I ask the Rt. Rev. Peter Munde Yacoub. Yacoub is Bishop of Yambio in the Province of the Episcopal Church in the Sudan. He is in Houston to address the first-ever international Sudanese Christian Conference for Peace and Unity, which met at the city's First Baptist Church the weekend of May 23-May 26.
The conference brought together nearly 500 participants, mainly displaced Sudanese Christians now living in asylum in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, and a dozen or more Christians from war-torn Southern Sudan and from Sudan's capital, Khartoum. Also attending were a sizable group of non-Africans, mostly members of various churches in the Houston area.
A registration mailer sent to potential participants explained the conference's goals: "[It] presents a forum to raise awareness of the war in Sudan and explore solutions for the problems resulting from this war." Organized by Frank Blackwood, founder and director of AID Sudan Foundation, and Rev. Samson Diko, a refugee Sudanese Episcopal priest licensed to serve in the Diocese of Texas, the event was co-sponsored by an impressively ecumenical array of mission and refugee-relief organizations such as Samaritan's Purse, Persecution Project, Safe Harbor, Living Water International, Voice of the Martyrs, Catholic Charities, the YMCA, Interfaith Ministries, and Houston's Sudanese refugee community. Representatives came from refugee communities throughout the United States and Canada. Two groups—one from Omaha, Nebraska, and one from Lansing, Michigan—drove more than 24 hours to attend.
Bishop Yacoub contributed special energy to the Conference because his own Sudanese Episcopal Church leads among Christian communities ...1
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