Christian School Construction Disrupted by Sudan Security Forces

The Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) school site in Renk was forced to stop work by the security forces in the government-controlled state of Upper Nile in southern Sudan. The security forces came and claimed that the area had been earmarked for use by an Islamic non-government organization.

The builders have been halted while the diocesan building supervisor, Timothy Manyuan Atem was arrested and detained for four days.

"Actually, the people who arrested him were not even in connection with the government," a church spokesman from Renk said. "They were security people who were trying to harass us."

Actually, ECS has a present school site. In December, ECS diocese had been informed that their present school building had to be demolished to make a way for the new government highway.

The regional commissioner promised government compensation to rebuild the school before destroying the present structure. However, the promised government compensation has not been paid till now.

Despite of the importance of the school which enjoyed full government permission, and had been designated as a school examinations center, the building materials had not been bought and sent from Khartoum as promised by the government.

It was the second time in less than three weeks that local security forces had interfered in the rebuilding of the ECS School.

According to the ECS Bishop of Renk's statement presented in early March, the forced relocation of the school and stalled government compensation "suggest a deliberate political attempt to impede progress in the work of the church."

"If they don't give us the money now," the church spokesman said, "and they go ahead and destroy the existing school, that means that our school will be closed for the whole next year."

As reported by "Christianity Today" the ECS is the "fastest growing church in the Anglican world." In terms of numbers, there were 3,500 priests now serving Sudan's five million Anglican parishioners, with the Catholic, Presbyterian and Pentecostal churches also growing "at an astonishing rate."

Sudan is the largest country in Africa with a total population of four million people. At least two million more have died in the conflict between the predominantly Arab Muslim north and African Christian/animist south. However, under the hardship of civil war in the last 20 years, Sudanese has realized "the only place to turn was God."