South Sudan

When the RCA sent its first missionaries to Africa in 1948, it joined with Presbyterian missionaries in Sudan. For most of its modern history, Sudan has been under the control of either Egypt or Great Britain. After a long struggle, Sudan gained independence in 1956. Persistent tension between the north and the south has resulted in periodic conflicts between the military, dominated by the north, and rebel groups from the south. Sudan is ruled by a fundamentalist Islamic government that has been responsible for numerous human rights violations directed against Christians and moderate Muslims. But in the face of persecution, there has been tremendous growth of the Christian church.

In Sudan, the RCA's partner denomination is the Presbyterian Church of Sudan (PCOS). For many years, RCA mission personnel were involved in training pastors, their spouses, and Christian educators at Nile Theological College. Nile is one of the few institutions training leaders to fill the serious leadership vacuum experienced by this rapidly growing church. Currently, RCA personnel are involved in directing a Theological Education by Extension program, which trains church leaders who are not able to attend the theological college.

In Sudan, the RCA also has a relationship with the New Sudan Council of Churches, which includes a wide range of churches and is directly engaged in many development and Christian education projects as well as relief work and peace advocacy throughout the liberated area of Southern Sudan. The NSCC has organized peace conferences throughout the south, in which Christians take the lead in bringing communities together to pledge to stop the violence and return abducted adults and children as well as cattle. This movement has been internationally recognized as one of the few movements that has produced a lasting peace. This is due largely to the commitment of Christians at the grassroots levels to follow the Prince of Peace in a ministry of reconciliation.

In the aftermath of the civil war, RCA missionaries work with Sudanese church leaders through RECONCILE (the Resource Centre for Civil Leadership). RECONCILE is the program arm of the NSCC designed to promote reconciliation, trauma healing, and civic education. Click here to view a video about the RECONCILE Peace Institute.

RCA mission personnel also work for ACROSS, an organization focused on empowering the churches of Southern Sudan. ACROSS is an essential contributor to the rebuilding of Sudan's infrastructure with programs that address issues of food security, health, evangelism, and education.

Shelvis & Nancy Smith-Mather

Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather work with RECONCILE, (Resource Centre for Civil Leadership), an indigenous ecumenical Christian organization, which was established in March 2004 by a national church council. It promotes peace-building by providing training in trauma recovery, conflict transformation, and civic education. RECONCILE's activities are in areas of high inter-ethnic conflict, with the churches often being the typical point of entry into these communities. Shelvis and Nancy participate in RECONCILE's training events that address inter-ethnic conflict.