Five decades of Islamic war in the Sudan have killed untold thousands of men, ensnared thousands of women and children into sexual slavery and orphaned more than 2 million, according to missionary Kimberly Smith who will speak at 9 a.m. Sunday at The Church of the Highlands.
Smith, who co-founded the nonprofit Make Way Partners with husband Dr. Milton Smith in 2003, has been rescuing thousands of women and children from sex trafficking in Africa, Europe and South America and is building a network of orphanages in Africa. One of Sudan’s original “Lost Boys,” Pastor Romano Nero, who manages MWP’s Hope for Sudan orphanage, is slated to speak at the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service. Lost Boys is the name given a group of more than 20,000 boys of the Nuer and Dinka groups who were displaced and/or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005).
“Sudan has been riddled with war, genocide, militia-driven violence, persecution, civil unrest, extreme poverty and government corruption since Great Britain withdrew in 1956,” Smith wrote in an email from Sudan last week. “The conflict is a declared Jihad but one which is largely driven for both sides by vast oil resources.
“Although there have been brief periods of ‘cease fire’ or ‘peace treaties’ leading up to the north and south split — creating two countries from the largest country in all of Africa, Sudan and South Sudan — the killing, starvation and disease through lack of medical care has not abated,” Smith wrote. “In fact, the corruption may be at an all-time high.”
Make Way Partners has three orphanages in Sudan. Hope for Sudan, located outside of Torit in South Sudan, is an orphanage and farm for 100 children. The New Life Ministry orphanage, on the border of Darfur, has 600 children.
Our Father’s Cleft, located in the Nuba Mountains of Northern Sudan, “where bombs are a daily occurrence,” Smith wrote, houses 400 children. It is called that, the MWP website explains, because children fleeing the destruction of their villages and the killing of their parents were hiding in mountain caves and clefts.
Smith was first inspired to create Make Way Partners when a decade ago, while serving in Portugal, she witnessed the sex trafficking of African women and children into Europe. More than 1,000 women have been repatriated to Sudan, according to their website.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, food drops have become the main food source, Smith wrote, which is why they are clearing land — by hand — for farming. They are also building a hospital and schools.
“In a country where five decades of Islamic war, and the consequences of that war, have created more than 2,000,000 orphans, many of the future leaders will indeed be orphans,” the MWP website reports. “Christ-centered education is critical to preparing the hearts and shaping the minds of our children for those leadership roles.”
Building the orphanages were vital, the website says, because hundreds of orphaned children fleeing the jihad were hiding in the brush and being killed and eaten by hyenas.
“As I share in my book ‘Passport Through Darkness,’ the dangers are immense, with constant conflicts,” Smith wrote. “This is what makes Sudanese orphans the world’s most vulnerable people group to modern-day slavery — which is why MWP chooses to be there.”
Suzanne White, International Missions Ministry leader at The Church of the Highlands, said they were praying for a way to meet needs beyond the church’s four walls and Make Way Partners is an answer to their prayers.
“At first it was shocking to learn of the horrors the orphaned children of Sudan have suffered and how the war-torn country’s women and children are among the most vulnerable in the world to human sex trafficking,” White wrote in an email. “But Jesus reminds us in Matthew Chapter 25 that we cannot turn our backs on ‘the least of these,’ but that we must see the needs and respond.”
The church has included Make Way Partners in its missions budget and held fundraising events, like “Loose Change For Loosed Chains,” which have raised several thousand dollars for MWP orphanage projects.
“We’ve committed to pray for those like Kimberly and her ministry team of radically saved believers who constantly put their lives on the line for the precious children of Sudan,” White wrote.
The need that Make Way Partners is trying to meet is huge, both women said. It takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase food, build buildings, and buy trucks and equipment.
When asked what her Sunday message will be, Smith replied with the organization’s motto, “Your Life Matters. Your daily choices make a difference in our world.”