South Sudan is a vast country in which 200 languages and dialects are spoken. More than forty years of civil war has resulted in huge numbers of displaced people living as refugees within the country, and in neighbouring countries. There is a chronic lack of health care, education, utilities and infrastructure; there is continuing internal strife among leaders, and violent tribal conflicts; and the regular problem of famine due to drought. These endemic problems have given rise to one of the highest mortality rates in the world.
By God’s grace, the church in South Sudan has not only survived but continues to grow, having an estimated membership of 1.8 million. In partnership with the Presbyterian Churches of South Sudan, MERF is providing diaconal aid to the neediest families in nine regions of South Sudan.
While physical needs are great, there is a serious need of spiritual leaders – pastors, evangelists, elders and deacons – trained in the Scriptures. Most church officers and church workers lack the basic biblical training needed for discipling and building up the Lord’s people. Without active teaching in God’s Word the church remains largely untouched by the deep peace, security, industry, love, and joy of a biblical worldview. MERF has committed itself to providing biblical and theological education over the next 30 years or more to address the needs of the Sudanese churches for trained workers.
MERF seeks to provide solid Bible teaching by three ministries:
- daily gospel radio broadcasts in the two main tribal languages (Nuer and Dinka)
- an intensive four-month biblical training program for church leaders
- support of pastors and evangelists
In these ministries, MERF supports about 475 pastors and 105 evangelists, and carries out biblical training, broadcasting, prison ministries, literature distribution in Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk, Anuak, and Morle.