Sudan Trip Update
I recently traveled to Sudan with group of friends from the US and the Middle East for a peace/prayer conference held July 15th, 2014, invited by a ministry called Bridges. Bridges is a ministry working for peace and reconciliation among countries. It’s major principle is “let’s build bridges, not walls”.
The purpose of my trip to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, was to speak at the conference and to meet government leaders. I have known Sudan since the 1980’s when I was in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia in armed struggle. After I became Prime Minister, I had state visits to Khartoum, Sudan twice in the 1990’s. My trip this time was the first after almost 20 years.
I know most of the government leaders and I also know the Sudanese people — very kind and friendly people who have very long historical ties with the Ethiopians. Many Ethiopian refugees live in Sudan and they migrate to America and Europe from there.
I stayed in Khartoum from the 14th through the 16th. The conference was attended by the highest government officials, as well as leaders of Christian and Muslim religious and non-governmental organizations. Many hundreds of Sudanese men and women also attended. The general atmosphere of the conference was wonderful. I spoke about love, peace, and conflict relating to my own life experience. Of course, Jesus was the center of my speech, showing how He is the common bridge of peace and love and the true power of reconciliation among different cultures. It was very well received and impacted the participants as I learned from the feedback right after the conference.
I had several group and one-to-one talks with the government leaders on peace and reconciliation. We agreed to continue our relationship based on prayer and the peace of Jesus. I can say that a door has been opened for further relationship with that part of the world for the ministry of reconciliation and friendship.
During my personal talks with the government leaders, I discussed the case of Meriam Ibrahim, the half-Ethiopian spouse of an American citizen, who was recently sentenced to death. She was stranded in the American embassy in Khartoum, prohibited to leave Sudan. After a friendly talk, the leaders gave me a positive response to release her, and she is already released after few days of our visit. I want to express my friendly respect and gratitude to the Sudanese government leaders for keeping their word and releasing Meriam safely. They did this not because of any kind of pressure from anywhere else, but only because of building friendly relationship that is more fruitful than any other means.