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FRM Newsletter

March 2024: Church Attendance has doubled

| FRM Newsletter

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Many might not remember the genocide in Darfur, but from 2003 to 2008, about 300,000 civilians were murdered. The killing was so bad that when humanitarian groups approached a village, from miles away, they thought they heard the sound of a very loud and powerful generator running. When they arrived, the noise was actually coming from flies on the dead bodies. I am sure the flies probably numbered in the trillions to be heard from so many miles away.  A now retired captain in the United States Marine Corps discovered the genocide and reported it to Congress. While they were shocked, they did nothing to bring it to an end. This captain made a documentary called The Devil Came on Horseback.
An military group known as Janjaweed brought about this genocide. They would come in on horseback to carry out their murderous rampage, and sadly they are back. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the fighting in northern Sudan, there is a war between the Janjaweed and the Islamic Sudan Army for control of the land, which has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. If you remember, last year, when this war broke out, within two days, we received calls from 30
organizations asking for help in getting their people out.  And, within a few days, we had men on the ground going into battle zones, to rescue families and civilians. These were the private contractors I used in Afghanistan and Ukraine who are highly trained soldiers. They are good men who use the skills they have been taught in many years of war to help others. Between what we personally rescued and helped other organizations to rescue, it would be hundreds of individuals.  The Janjaweed renamed themselves the RSF and claimed to have reformed, but it was just a mask with no plan to change. They only did this so they could seize more power. The RSF, along with one Islamic commander, who believed that Allah sent him to murder and torture whoever stood in his way, decided to try and take Khartoum and the Nuba Mountains. He actually began killing people by burning them with fire. Along with many others, even one of our chaplains, Jaber, had five relatives murdered. The number of those killed in Khartoum has been estimated as high as 25,000. One young man had his face put in a frying pan and suffered severe injury; fortunately, he survived. People have snuck out during the night and tried to retrieve fallen loved ones for burial, but they, themselves, have been shot and wounded or killed. To serve as a warning, the RSF wanted to terrorize the people so they would not allow the bodies of those they murdered to be buried, causing a terrible stench. The South Sudan Army North realized that the Islamic commander and the RSF were coming to Nuba to start a new spree of killing and conquest. The RSF wanted to do what Hitler had done and wipe out an entire race of people.

The South Sudan Army North knew that all military outposts held by the Army of North Sudan would become a staging ground for the invasion of the Nuba Mountains.  So, they launched preemptive strikes before it was too late.  Our chaplains number about 48 in the Nuba Mountains. They went with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army North and attacked and took 11 military bases from the Islamic Sudan Army to protect the people. In the process, they captured six tanks and many military vehicles, along with large amounts of weapons and ammunition. In the process, they got everything except medical supplies.  The SPLA captured the Islamic commander and killed many of his soldiers. The civilian population was enraged because their relatives had been murdered, tortured, and raped. They took vengeance on this commander. His body was stripped and hung upside down. I saw photos of what was done to this man, and it was a terrible sight. But scripture was fulfilled in that he reaped what he had sown.

Right now, in our village in Nimule, South Sudan, hunger is a real problem because of all the insecurity.  People have not been able to cultivate for fear of rebels, who come and kill the men and abduct the women who are used as sex slaves. So Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) has purchased large quantities of beans and corn maize to feed the people, which is being distributed at church on Sunday.  The people are very grateful, but we have a need for more food and medical supplies.
The medical supplies are for the Nuba mountains, and the food is for our village and the surrounding villages.  For about $200, we can give a family 100 pounds of beans and 150 pounds of corn maize, which will feed them for half a year.  FRM is also working on building a community farm. People in our village can work with our staff to grow food and be given a distribution, hopefully enough to feed their families. We will station armed guards, so the people will not have any worry of abduction. But, until this is accomplished, we need help in feeding the families. For $200, you can support a family to survive for six months. For $1,000–five families, and $10,000, you can feed 50 families. Food is very simple in South Sudan: corn maize and beans are what everyone wants, so that you can feed a lot of people for very little. I have also started having the staff provide lunch after church on Sunday mornings. Since starting this, church attendance has doubled because people are just hungry.

During the fighting, one of our chaplains was killed; he had graduated in class five and was extremely faithful to the Lord. He was First Lieutenant Ismail Khamis Kodi.  From the time of his graduation, Ismail was given to the work of teaching the message of salvation to the military.  A large military truck that Ismail was in was going over the mountains when the brakes gave out, and the vehicle rolled back and went off the side of the mountain. He was killed instantly, so he did not suffer. He leaves behind a wife and three daughters. Ismail worked in artillery and was considered the best man in the unit. Before Christ, he was addicted to opium, but someone told him that God could deliver him. Ismail said that if God can heal me from this, He is real, and I will follow him and he did.  In one particular battle Ismail was in, his unit was being attacked by 700 Islamic enemy soldiers and his unit had only 100 men. His unit was told to attack even though they were greatly outnumbered, but he said, “Today is Sunday. Let us pray this whole day and seek our God that He will be with us.” So, all the soldiers spent the day in prayer. The next day, Ismail took his artillery gun and fired seven shots; all seven hit critical enemy positions, and within a few minutes, the enemy was in full retreat leaving the area and did not return. The men spent the day giving thanks to the Lord for His deliverance. Ismail was known for many great feats of heroism, once capturing 16 enemy soldiers and three trucks full of military supplies. On another occasion, his position was hit by a surface-to air missile (SAM) that killed over 100 soldiers and 30 civilians. Once again, Ismail escaped uninjured, and the people said it was because of his relationship with Christ that he was delivered.

I am at the chaplain base as this letter is being written. We sent for Ismail’s wife to be brought from the Nuba Mountains to the base. We will do our best to comfort her in her grief and give her the stipend that we give for each fallen chaplain, which can take care of her for years. Ismail was around 55 years of age and served in the war for 37 years. In his life, he had brought many men and women to Christ. He had planted a church in a radical Muslim area where the people were some of the most violent, but to this day, his church is still alive with over 200 converted Muslims.  He never knew the comforts of this world but will know great peace throughout eternity, having given his all to protect his people and serve Christ.
Wes Bentley
Far Reaching Ministries