Washington (BWA)--The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) urges Baptists around the world to pray for the referendum in south Sudan on Sunday, January 9, 2011.
The vote being cast on January 9 will determine whether the 8.2 million southern Sudanese will pursue either independence or further reunification within Sudan, the culmination of a six-year process that began with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. The CPA ended a civil war lasting 22 years that witnessed the death of two million southern Sudanese, the internal displacement of three to four million individuals and the migration of more than six hundred thousand individuals into neighboring nations.
The Sudan Interior Church (SIC), a BWA member body with 40,000 baptized members, straddles the north-south Sudan rift in an area that was particularly contested throughout the war. Under the current leadership of general secretary Ramadan Chan, the more than 225 churches of the SIC have maintained an active ministry of evangelism, Bible translation, a theological training college and a relief and rehabilitation agency holistically addressing the needs of a community deeply affected by war. In April 2008 the SIC culminated a year-long process that resulted in a full reconciliation that merged two denominational administrative structures into one unified leadership.
Since 2006, the General Council of the BWA has passed several resolutions expressing concern over the full implementation of the peace agreement, urging ongoing advocacy on behalf of both Darfur and south Sudan, encouraging regular prayer for those suffering, and calling, as in a 2007 resolution passed in Accra, Ghana, for "international [Baptist] conventions, fellowships and churches to develop partnerships with Sudanese Baptists who have remained largely isolated."
Many political observers and regional experts anticipate that the majority of southern Sudanese will vote for independence and secession in the referendum on Sunday.
In light of this upcoming vote, the BWA asks for special prayers for all Sudanese particularly in three interrelated areas. First, we ask that Baptists pray for a safe and transparent election process with results that are respected by all parties, especially with the possibility of southern secession and additional local referendums in Abyei and the border state of Blue Nile.
In addition we urge for a deepening development of full religious freedom and for the safe protection of Christian minorities, including Baptists, located in the north as in recent days, the president of Sudan has stated that the country would adopt an Islamic constitution if the south opts for secession.
Third, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Sunday, after more than two decades of war, south Sudan will continue to face significant obstacles including in ongoing endeavors related to repatriation, reconciliation and demobilization of strained ethnicities, the transition to new democratic structures and sustainable economic development.
The BWA therefore calls on Baptists worldwide to embrace a season of invocation and ongoing engagement that remembers the Sudanese referendum on January 9 and that a broader and more robust implementation of peace and development will take place throughout Sudan.