By Dan Wooding
GARFIELD, NJ (ANS) -- The indiscriminate slaughter of more than two million people, mostly black Christians, but also Muslims and animists, in southern Sudan, has been brought about by the National Islamic Front (NIF) who long ago declared a jihad (holy war) on the south. Human rights observers say that NIF violates almost every provision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Schools and hospitals have been targeted with bombs by the Khartoum government and their brutal tactics have killed many innocent victims.
But now there is hope for the some of the victims of this terrible "holocaust" in southern Sudan as William Levi, a Sudanese Jew who has found Jesus as his Messiah, has launched an appeal for $120,000 to build a mobile clinic to help the those who are so sick that they will die without medical help.
Levi's ministry, Operation Nehemiah, which is based in Garfield, New Jersey, has been joined in this effort by Friends of Sudan, a Vermont based organization dedicated to acting as an advocate for the people of Sudan.
Rev. Michael Gantt, president of Friends of Sudan has endeavored to position his organization as a link between the people of the U.S. and various relief organizations working in Sudan. Though Friends of Sudan does not have any staff working in Sudan, the organization has assisted in funding of several important projects sponsored by various organizations.
"The ill in southern Sudan often walk for days in a vain attempt to find medical treatment," explained Gantt, who also pastors Agape Christian Fellowship in Brattleboro, Vermont. "Their journey is fraught with danger from intense heat, wild animals, and a variety of independent militia who roam unhindered throughout the south of Sudan killing, mutilating, raping, and robbing anyone they please. When they do reach a clinic they often find it under-staffed, under-equipped, or closed.
"Many of the clinics that do operate, do so in the most primitive setting, often spreading more disease than they cure. Organizations like Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse faithfully and in the face of great peril have operated clinics for a number of years, but for the most part the need is overwhelming. To compound the problem clinics, along with churches and schools are considered to be legitimate targets for the bombers from the north. Graham's clinic in Lui has been repeatedly bombed. Many Sudanese fear going to the clinics because of this."
Levi says that once the funds have been raised, the mobile clinic will operate out of his center in Kampala, Uganda and will then operate between the various refugee camps in northern Uganda and Kenya as well as travel into Sudan and then back out again.
Levi explained that Toyota of Gibraltar in Spain has submitted a plan to construct a custom mobile clinic. The three-meter trailer will be pulled by a 13 passenger Toyota Land Cruiser and will contain a treatment room, its own power generator, as well as refrigeration for medicines, and housing for staff. The clinic will also carry a self-contained radio transmitter that will broadcast the gospel in local dialects as well as health and safety alerts to local communities. Operation Nehemiah has plans to distribute hundreds of small, solar powered transistor radios to the communities and refugee camps.
"It is very difficult and dangerous for the ill to walk to clinics, which are usually ill equipped in the first place," says Levi. "With the mobile clinic we will be able to travel to the various areas, provide medical assistance in a sterile environment, broadcast the gospel and Biblical teaching in the local dialect, and then retreat to a relatively safe location. Being mobile helps reduce targeting by flying bombers."
Levi, a Sudanese national who fled the civil war to the US founded the Operation Nehemiah Mission for the purpose of rebuilding his war-torn homeland - physically, politically, and spiritually. Though he has a degree in engineering from the New Jersey College of Engineering and could be living the "American dream," Levi has chosen rather to engineer the rebuilding of his country. He does so by educating the American public about the deadly civil war being conducted in his home country and supporting various medical, educational, and spiritual outreaches to his people in Sudan and in refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda.
Michael Gantt then explained the vision of Friends of Sudan. "We have, without really planning it, found ourselves in a clearing house type of position where we are able to connect individuals to any one of a number of different organizations," he said. "And," he continued, "we have a pretty comprehensive picture of who's doing what in southern Sudan so that we can direct individuals who want to support a particular kind of project whether it be the Lost Boys, medical outreach, or evangelism."
Gantt believes people are dying from conditions that should not be fatal if medical treatment were more readily available and better equipped.