Quarter-Million Bibles to be Distributed in Sudan

World Gospel Mission, in partnership with Samaritan's Purse, will distribute a quarter of a million Bibles across southern Sudan next year.

The Bibles will help replace those that were destroyed in many areas during the country's long civil war. The war ended with a peace treaty in 2005 but fighting has continued.

"One of the things that we need most is prayer, that the Bible will get into the hands of literate people, that their hearts and minds would be open to the Word of God, and that this would be incredibly encouraging as well as challenging, and that the body of Christ, as the church, would be built up," said Joy Phillips of World Gospel Mission, according to Mission Network News.

Over the decades of war, the minority Christian population witnessed the destruction of more than 600 churches in the South - where believers are mainly located – by government militants. The 21-year conflict resulted in 1.5 million deaths and four million people displaced.

Samaritan's Purse, one of the groups involved in the Bible project, has vowed to rebuild every church destroyed during the conflict. The rebuilding project is predicted to cost about $15 million.

Currently, the Bibles are at sea, after being shipped from its printers in Korea. The Bibles are scheduled to arrive at the port in Mombasa, Kenya, on Dec. 20.

But World Gospel Mission's Phillips foresees many obstacles once the Bibles arrive in Sudan. She described the distribution process as "quite a challenge" given the lack of roads open in certain areas, and noted church leaders saying the only way to distribute in some areas is by plane or boat.

The distribution is scheduled to start in January and be completed by July 2008, according to Samaritan's Purse. With the help of a church network, the Bibles will be distributed to six language groups in the South.

Another Christian group working to rebuild southern Sudan is Five Talents International, which provides funding for business training and thousands of loans – ranging from $50 to $300. A majority of the loan recipients are women.

Projects include adult education, local savings mobilization, business development training, Biblical values in the marketplace training, small business development investing and rural microcredit provision.

"We have a Christian imperative to reach those who are living in extreme conditions," said Craig Cole, executive director of Five Talents International. "Life must get better for those affected by generations of war. Creating job is one way to transform these communities."

Christians make up only about five percent of the population in Sudan while Muslims make up the majority with 70 percent. The central Muslim government has been widely accused of discriminating against its Christian citizens.