1 May 2023 |
A family of Seventh-day Adventist missionaries were evacuated from Sudan on April 23, while the United States brokered a cease-fire between the Sudanese government army and the Rapid Response Forces.
The family included Pastor Sebastian G., together with his wife, Elmita; his daughter; his sister-in-law, Ana; and a nurse. They had been in the Middle East North African Union (MENA) for eight years and had worked with Sudan specifically since the end of 2019. Their work involved coordinating local churches and providing pastoral and administrative support.
In an interview with the Adventist Magazine of Spain, Pastor Sebastian answered the question of why the family had to leave so abruptly. The page also contains an interview with CNN en Español. Said Pastor Sebastian:
We had to leave in such a hurry because war broke out. It was a Saturday morning. I was getting ready to go to church. So was my family. I had two churches to visit that Saturday. My family would be going to the international group, where they normally attend…. We were a little later than planned, and when the cab arrived to pick me up (we don’t have our own car), the driver canceled the trip and told me that we couldn’t cross the bridge to the other side because a conflict had broken out. He said he could not travel, that he had to leave, and recommended that I stay at home.
Then I received a phone call from a church elder, saying the same thing, and then another church sister saying the same…. Then we began to suspect that there was something serious going on, and we decided to stay at home until we verified the safety of the situation. We did not leave the house, and fortunately we were able to be together, as a family, for those nine days. If I had left home that Saturday morning, I would not have been able to join my family. The bridges that separate Khartoum from the neighboring cities were closed, and the situation of danger and violence in the streets would have prevented me from being able to join my family. In fact, many families were separated because the conflict separated them.
During this period of time, the governments of the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain, among others, began to expedite the departure of their officials and citizens. They also supported the evacuation of other foreign nationals in the midst of Sudan’s civil war.
“The Spanish embassy organized a very efficient evacuation,” said Pastor Sebastian. “Fortunately, they accepted us. Through our Argentinean and Colombian embassies we asked the Spanish embassy if they could help us to evacuate, since we do not have Argentinean or Colombian embassies in Khartoum.”
They were all evacuated on Sunday, April 23, in an Airbus A400M Atlas belonging to the armed forces of Spain.
According to Pastor Sebastian, Sudan is a poor region. “The brothers and sisters in Sudan are suffering. It is a terrible crisis. Sudan was already a very poor country, with a very low standard of living. The Adventist Church in Sudan is an extremely poor church.”
Adventist Today has reached out to the Middle Eastern North African Union for more stories about what is happening to workers and believers in that part of the world.