The “Outlaw Bishop”

  A few days before Christmas last year, a small plane left Kenya for Sudan, flying low to avoid being spotted by Sudanese Army garrisons that would have shot it down on sight. On board was an American human rights lawyer named Bill Saunders, and with him was the most wanted man in Sudan: Catholic Bishop Macram Max Gassis. The bishop was bringing Bill Saunders to the Nubian Mountains to witness a story of horror--and of hope. When the plane landed, Saunders and the bishop quickly unloaded vital supplies: seeds, plows, salt, and clothes. When the villagers spotted their "outlaw" bishop, they raced over and surrounded him joyfully. At first glance, it would appear the Sudanese Christians had little to be joyful about. Sudan's radical Islamic government daily engages in terror bombing of their villages. It has starved them, poisoned their wells, tortured their church leaders, and enslaved their children. In fact, many of the kids who greeted Bishop Gassis had brands on their faces, put there by their former slave masters. So why were these people so joyful? As Saunders recalls, "It was Christmas! They were ecstatic to see their bishop and to celebrate . . . with him... They sang . . . hymns [and] played on drums made from logs, coffee cups, and empty shrapnel shells." On Christmas morning, they gathered to celebrate the birth of Christ. But in the midst of the service, word came that government bombers were on their way. As Saunders recalls, when they heard about the bombing mission, "the bishop declared, 'We will not let them disrupt the [service].'" "Those words electrified me," Saunders later wrote. "I experienced a palpable feeling of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was quite possible that we would be killed, but instead of fear, I felt serenity. What better place to die than here, in solidarity with these [Christians], in communion with our Lord?" The worshipers escaped harm that day, and Saunders returned safely to America. But his Sudanese friends are still in danger. The government continues its tactics of bombing, torture, and famine. Bishop Gassis is doing everything he can, fighting with plows, perseverance, and prayer. He has also spoken out against the actions of Sudan's radical Islamic government on a visit to the United States--which is one reason he's the most wanted man in Sudan. Our Sudanese brethren are hoping and praying American Christians will help them. As one of them said to Saunders, "We have heard about human rights on the radio. Why, if there are human rights, does the world not help us?" Why not, indeed. If you want to help Bishop Gassis and the Christians of Sudan, ask your Senator to co- sponsor the "Sudan Peace Act," which is being introduced this week by Senator Bill Frist and a bipartisan coalition. Second, if you call BreakPoint, we'll send you information on how you can directly help the Sudanese Christians. Third, and most important, pray. Pray for the most wanted man in Sudan, and the precious people who are accepting martyrdom rather than deny Christ.


Chuck Colson


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