Sunday, March 25, 2007

MOSES AND PHARAOH REDUX

I am scheduled to leave today for a 10-day mission to the Sudan and its western region of Darfur. As you may have seen in the news, things are quite delicate there after recent events brought further tension to the area. Please pray God's will be done in the scheduling of this mission. I amstanding by as I type for word on whether or not it is a go.

Most Americans have a difficult time understanding what is happening there. We hear words like genocide, ethnic cleansing and sanctions, but few really know what led to this tragic state of affairs and what solutions there are to it, if any at all.

Well, I’m among those who have been deeply troubled and confused. So, I was pleased to receive the invitation of Joseph Griebowski, president of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, to join both their board of directors and this delegation to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

As far as I know, I am the only Evangelical in both assignments. As a member of the board of the Evangelical Church Alliance and chairman of its Committee on Church and Society, I am looking forward to bringing an Evangelical perspective to talks with the top governmental officers in Khartoum, including President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Bashir is blamed by many for the slaughter of tens of thousands in the South and the brutal rape and maiming of many more. Not only so, but Bashir and his government are widely faulted for doing nothing to ensure the security and well-being of some 2.5 million displaced refugees who are terrorized by militia groups sympathetic to the Khartoum regime.

So far, criticism and sanctions from outside have done nothing to resolve what is probably the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world. So, when Mr. Griebowski and his organization were invited to meet with Bashir and his top leaders, he wisely accepted.

I liken this mission to Moses who was told to go directly to Pharaoh and deliver God’s message to the potentate. I don’t know if I’ll have that opportunity, but if I do, I will take it. With the U.N.’s absolute ineptitude, the unwillingness of other countries to intervene (including our own) and the uselessness of bureaucratic “process,” it seems time to try a whole different angle.

No doubt many will criticize the Institute and those of us who meet with the people many Darfur watchers blame for this modern-day holocaust. But the Word of the Lord is powerful, and the Rod of God omnipotent. I believe God is in this mission and my friend Joe and the Institute are right in seizing a unique moment.

After meeting with all the top-level Sudanese officials, we will tour the Darfur region and see it for ourselves. My wife, Cheryl, said she sees a life-changing experience for me on the horizon, not unlike the one I had 24 years ago when I toured the miserable inhabited garbage dumps outside Mexico City. That epiphany led me to make a 2000-mile fundraising and awareness trek from the border with Canada to just across the border with Mexico. The result was the launch of Operation Serve International. Though it’s been ten years since I’ve been directly involved in this fine ministry that I had the joy of founding, it remains a huge part of my heart and soul.

Cheryl also lists the more recent Christian Friendship Mission that came from my first encounters with another African nation, Morocco.
I don’t know what may come from the visit to Sudan and Darfur, but it will certainly be something. The Scriptures say in Proverbs 3:27-28, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
“Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”
God will want us to do something for these suffering souls or He wouldn’t send us over there. We will make that offer to the Sudanese. It will be up to them whether or not to accept.
Please pray for our delegation. This will not be an easy nor comfortable assignment for any of us. I look forward to reporting to you what happens.

For now, you can get more details in our article on the trip. Thank you for praying—and many, many thanks to those who gave financially to make the trip possible. We haven’t raised the full amount of $4000 yet, so if you’d like to plant some spiritual seed in the soil of Sudan, you can give a special gift at our website. We still have 24 hours to collect the balance of $1500. You can make your tax-deductible contribution here.I’ll be back to tell you how the Lord moved in hearts and minds!

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