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Church bombed in Sudan: How 3American missionaries miraculously escaped death
USAfricaonline.com Special and Exclusive eyewitness report
by ELISE GLADING, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor and religioncolumnist
ThreeAmerican missionaries have just returned from a trip to the Sudan,where the church they attended on a Sunday morning was targeted andbombed by the Government of Sudan Air Force. They miraculouslyescaped death when eight bombs exploded around the church. The attackwas the latest in an ongoing war between Khartoum's fundamentalistNational Islamic Front government, and those who desire religiousfreedom in the Sudan.
Themissionaries were presenting Evangelism leadership-training coursesfor local pastors, teachers and chaplains in Southern Sudan. One ofthe missionaries, Don Warren, from the Coral Ridge PresbyterianChurch in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida said that it is hard to believethat a civilian church can be openly bombed in the year 2000. Warrensaid that he has "never been bombed out of the pulpit before!"
Haitian-born Jean Dony St. Germain of the El Shaddai PresbyterianChurch in Miami said: "What they meant for evil, God turned to good.They tried to distract from the ministry, but the incident made theministry more effective and brought us closer together. I will neverforget this. It made me realize the brevity of life, and that Ishould live every day as if it is my last day".
Missionary Elise Glading, shares her eyewitness account of thebombing: "We were staying in huts in a village in Southern Sudan whenall three of us woke up at 3 o'clock the morning of November 5, 2000and decided to get up and pray. We somehow sensed that somethingmight happen that day. Later that morning, as we walked towards thethatched-roof church, just out of town, we heard the droning sound ofan Antonov aircraft. At first we thought that it was just on areconnaissance flight, but then we heard bombs exploding in thedistance. We later learned that it made 3 bombing runs, dropping 14bombs, over another church in a community 12 miles away, where wewere scheduled to conduct a worship service later that afternoon.
Before the church service started, we sat under a tree next to thechurch, and Pastor St. Germain read Psalm 91. We found comfort in theassurance that God would command His angels to protect those whotrust in Him. A peace that surpasses all human understanding cameover us.
Our church service started at 9 am. At 9:20 we realized that theaircraft was right above the church. A shout went up: "The Antonov iscoming!" Everyone evacuated the church immediately. Some ran backtowards the village, and others ran to the two dugout bomb sheltersright next to the church. The three of us crouched down in a bombshelter close to the church. We prayed fervently, as we heard theloud screaming sounds of the first bombs. Five bombs exploded inrapid succession. The ground shook and we saw pillars of black smokearound the church. The air was thick with acid-smelling smoke anddebris. All five bombs landed within 300 feet of the church.
For a moment we thought that the bombing was over, but then,suddenly the aircraft was directly overhead again, at about 12 000feet straight above us. This time the screaming sound was deafening.So loud that I knew it was coming right at as. All I could say was:"Thank You, Jesus!" The next moment the earth violently shook, and wewere covered in ground and debris. A 500-pound bomb exploded onlyabout 60 feet away from us, right through a big tree. It is a miraclethat nobody was killed, or seriously injured. We found shrapnel allaround the church, even in the road on the other side of the church,over 600 feet away. A commander from the Sudanese Peoples LiberationArmy inspected the scene and was absolutely amazed that nobody wasinjured.
It seems that the metal canister holding the bomb miraculouslystayed intact. He concluded that if the bomb detonated on the tree itwould have caused an airburst, which would have been fatal. Wepraised God for His divine protection. We continued with the churchservice later that morning. In spite of the possible danger of thereturn of the bomber, the church was packed with about 300 people aswe joyfully celebrated the Lord's Supper. This was a powerful pictureof the perseverance and resilience of the persecuted Christians inthe Sudan.
The aircraft came back that afternoon, and for a moment Iexperienced fear like I have never felt it before as I looked at thewomen and children in the village running for cover. They were sovulnerable. A Sudanese lady came to me with tears in her eyes. Shetightly held my hand as she said in broken English: 'Don't worry.Trust in God. He will protect us.' After circling, the aircraftheaded away. It must be terrible living under such circumstances allthe time. Something must be done to stop these cowardice acts ofviolence against innocent civilians.
Many of the participants in the seminar walked long distances,some even for 4 days, to attend the Evangelism Seminar. Theysuccessfully completed the course the next day. We stayed one moreweek in the Sudan, presenting another evangelism leadership trainingcourse in a village in the area. The following Sunday was theInternational Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, andfortunately there was a low cloud cover over the area. We were guestsof local Sudanese Christians, and Frontline Fellowship, a Cape Townbased ministry serving the persecuted church and working forreformation in Africa.
During the two week mission trip, almost 100 pastors, teachers andchaplains attended the inter-denominational Evangelism Seminars, wealso distributed more than 800 copies of the new complete Bible inthe Moru language, conducted church services in six differentcongregations, visited schools, presented Kids Evangelism workshops,Teacher Training courses, Sunday School classes and participated infilm evangelism. We were overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitalityof the local people. They have a unique hunger and thirst forknowledge, and unshakable faith in God.
The trip was a great success, as many Sudanese people came to asaving knowledge of Jesus Christ, in spite of the bombingincident."
(Report filed on November 25, 2000)
This report will appear in the January 10, 2001 edition ofUSAfrica The Newspaper. For further information, photographs, videofootage, or possible interviews with Don Warren, or Jean Dony St.Germain, contact EliseGlading@aol.com, or Tel/Fax: (954) 492-8877 HUMAN RIGHTS These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Atrocities continue in the Sudan despite U.S. assurances to significantly halt abuses. Additional USAfricaonline report appears at Sudan branded over Slave Trade.
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