Aboud and Nunu are refugees from North and South Sudan and are currently in Plymouth with their four children. Here, they share their journey of faith, the trials in their home country that lead them to escape and their contangoes passion to love the nations and share the good news. And don’t miss their message to the UK church at the end.
Aboud was born in South Sudan but at the age of 9 he left his family home in a poor, rural area and travelled by train with a group of street boys to North Sudan (now Sudan) to stay with a cousin. His cousin took him to school for a while but then he changed his mind and took Aboud back to South Sudan. At this point, Aboud knew about God and church but he did not know Jesus. He didn’t know where to go or what to do. When he came back to South Sudan to the place where his parents lived, the war started to develop and terrible things happened so after a while he moved back to North Sudan.
Aboud tried to make a life for himself in North Sudan, living on his own in a small house. He would pretend to be a christian and went to a church once a year but nobody told him about Jesus.
He met a man from South Sudan who was a Muslim and wanted Aboud to become a Muslim and move to Saudi Arabia for a better life. At that time Aboud wasn’t thinking about wanting a better life, he just wanted to go to school and get an education. But he decided to read more about it so he bought a Bible and a Qu’ran and would read them at night. A man from the church began to visit Aboud in his small house, he came to encourage Aboud and invite him to church.
One night Aboud woke up and prayed ‘God, show me yourself within these two books so that I can rely on you and know you are there. I realise that you have taken care of me for many years and you are with me but I don’t know who you are.’ Then he found a verse in the Bible in the book of Matthew where Jesus says ‘come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.’ He went back to sleep and slept deeply and peacefully for the rest of the night. When he woke he felt lighter because his heart was no longer heavy after praying. He gave his life to Jesus and began to go to church with his friend and started to attend every bible study and training that he could. In 2002 he joined YWAM which was where he met Nunu.
Nunu was born and raised in a Christian family and decided to follow Jesus when she was 10 years old, she was baptised when she was 13. She belonged to a church that would often engage in mission and in her late teens she would go with the church youth programme on outreach in other cities. Her church was always encouraging her in spiritual things and mission. In 2002 she attended YWAM’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) and learned more about how to follow Jesus and to be part of God’s family and be a missionary. She went on to attend bible school, leadership school and mission school and often went on missions trips with YWAM. Aboud and Nunu married in 2008 and from 2009-2011, Aboud led the YWAM team in Sudan.
In July 2011 South Sudan separated from Sudan. Because Aboud was from South Sudan, the government treated him and his children as foreigners and it was very hard for him to stay in Sudan. When the separation was announced, Aboud was in South Sudan on a ministry trip. Nunu and the two girls were in Khartoum waiting for him to come back. Aboud was unable to come back and Nunu was told that she had to go to him.
They met in Egypt as a family and stayed there for some time then went back to South Sudan in 2012. They stayed and ministered there but they didn’t have a house, the situation was very bad and they did not have money to rent or do anything. After 4 months Nunu and the children went back to Sudan for a month but the children were not welcomed in Sudan at that time because of their nationality. They went to Egypt as refugees, Nunu was pregnant with their third child but they had to leave Aboud in South Sudan.
During his years in South Sudan, Aboud worked as a missionary on the frontline and in refugee camps. He says that in the villages people are always ready to hear about Jesus, whatever their background. Many of them give their lives to Christ. There is a lot of conflict, fighting and displacement in South Sudan so it is easy to share a word of encouragement with people about hope. When people are in difficult situations they listen carefully to the words that they can have hope in Jesus. Although in the bigger towns and cities it can take time building relationships, and there needs to be understanding and respect for peoples’ backgrounds when it comes to times of discussion, still people respond, they are looking and searching for God.
Aboud recalls a leader of a tribe who was very difficult and rude when Aboud came to the village and tried to gather people to share the gospel with them. This was very obstructive for almost a year every time that Aboud visited. He wanted to protect the tribe from becoming believers and sometimes he tried to fight them. One year YWAM set up a trauma healing workshop and this man had been invited. Aboud was interpreting for the person running the workshop, helping to educate people about trauma and how it affects people.
Those who had set up the workshop were just there to talk about trauma and didn’t want to bring a gospel message to people but Aboud broke the rule and as he interpreted he added a story from the Bible and spoke about the man who had been lying near the pool of Bethsaida for years waiting for healing.
The villagers did not know what a miracle was so Aboud explained that to them saying “The man at the pool received a miracle because Jesus appeared and asked him if he wanted help. He did not even have to go to the water, just believe in Jesus.” As Aboud told the story, the man kept his eyes fixed firmly on Aboud and Aboud kept speaking to him. He asked the man if Jesus had done a good thing or a bad thing and he said it was a good thing.
Aboud spoke about how faith in Jesus can change our lives, including bringing reconciliation. That was hard for the man as he was very angry at the government. He went home but on the day that the team was leaving, he came to Aboud and asked his forgiveness for being so rude towards the team. Aboud asked if he could pray for the man who replied, “That is why I came. I came so that you would pray for me.” Aboud prayed for him and he gave his life to Jesus. Aboud is still in touch with a friend in Sudan who says that this man is still asking for him.
Nunu and the children stayed in Egypt for seven years before being reunited with Aboud when they moved to the UK as refugees by the grace of God and the help of the United Nations. They now have a fourth child and are praying about their future as a family. They don’t know how long they are going to continue to live in the UK, whether they will pioneer something in Sudan or somewhere else, but for now they are asking God to use them where they are.
They serve their church in Plymouth but in their hearts they long to return to Sudan and continue their ministry there. Nunu has a gift of hospitality – she loves to invite people and bless them in her home. They want to help their church to be a hospitable church and are always pleased to welcome any number of people through their door. They have also created a monthly time of prayer for the nations which they host in their home.
Encouragement to the UK Church
Their encouragement to the church in the UK is that the nations are all around you, you can reach them easily. Don’t waste time, because the nations are already here. God has sent many nations to the UK – it is not without purpose. God has sent them with a purpose. Even if you don’t want to go to Africa or the Middle East, God has brought people to you here and you have no excuse not to reach the nations in your country.
They also believe that the UK church needs to work very hard at encouraging young people in the mission field. Our children are friends with the nations, playing in one playground. When you go to bed, you don’t leave your children outside! The church needs to work hard to bring her children in and encourage her young people, making them busy for the mission.
How can we welcome the nations? Our ways are all different. It is important to build personal relationships with people, the way we welcome, introduce ourselves, stay connected, join in activities together, these are important. People might not care about celebrating a birthday but visit people and invite people to your home or invite them out for coffee. Build friendship and trust. When God brings someone to your doorstep, you need to keep up that relationship. Faith without deeds is useless. This is the time in the UK, people need to divide their time, they may be busy but there are people who are interested in Jesus.
Nunu recalls: “When we were praying for the nations two weeks ago in our home, we were praying for a very dark country. I felt that God is saying he is the light that is coming to the darkness in that country. It’s time for the sun to shine in that country. This is true in the UK also, God is not only shining on the Christians, his light is going to shine on people who don’t know Jesus, they will see the light and many of them will be saved.”
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2