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The Growth of Contemporary Christianity in Sudan

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A Paper Presented to

Professor Joshua Earls


Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA

In Partial Fulfillment of

The requirements for

History of the Christian Church II

CHHI 302


Nathaniel L. Floyd, Jr.


The Growth of Contemporary Christianity in Sudan

The writer of our textbook gives us the history of Christianity within the borders of the Roman Empire in Vol. 1. He explains that Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox--trace their heritage to the early church within those borders. Ethiopian Christianity has been linked to origin in Egypt. However, Christianity rose in Sudan at the end of the first century. The Eastern Roman Empire was a great influence on the advancement of Christianity in that region. In lower Nubia, the Byzantine architects were the most influential in the construction of the churches in early second century. Emperor Justinian I of the Roman Empire set up a defense for Christianity in Sudan. In 580 A.D. the official religion of Nubia, was Christianity. During the seventh century after the Islamic conquest Christianity began to fade, and remained dissipated for nearly eight hundred years. Between 1881-1898 during the Mahdist Revolution the remaining Christians were forced to convert to Islam. During the mid-nineteenth century British clerics revived Christianity in the southern region of Sudan. Nubian (Sudanese) Christians associate with the Anglican faith or the Roman Catholic Church, although like in the United States there are other denominations in Sudan namely: Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Apostolic Church, Coptic Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Eritrean Church, Africa Inland Church, The Sudan Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church of Sudan, Sudan Interior Church, Sudan Pentecostal Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, and the New Apostolic Church. Missionaries and Clerics from the Roman Catholic Church came to Sudan in 1842. In 1899 Presbyterians and Anglicans arrived in Sudan, with the Presbyterian mission located in Khartoum, and the Anglican mission located in Omdurman. After some time past both the Anglicans and Presbyterians both established ministries in North and South Sudan. In 1937 the Sudanese Interior Mission established the Interior Mission Church. In 1949 the Africa Inland Mission planted the Africa Inland Church. But, unfortunately by 1964 because of the civil war in southern Sudan, foreign missionaries were summoned to cease and desist all missionary work and evacuate the country. After the fall of the Khartoum in 1885, the Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad died. The "caliphs" which is Arabic for "successor", was Khalifa Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, who continued the mission of the Mahdi. Abdallahi chose to continue the Mahdist State Movement (M.S.M.) or Mahdiyah Movement inside the bounderies of Sudan. This was due to the unsuccessful military campaigns against the Ethiopians and the Egyptians. The Belgian Forces took the Nile and the Bahr el Ghazal. The Franks set up a defense in West Africa along the Upper Nile River. The Ethiopians defeated the Italians at Adowa under Emperor Menelik in 1896. Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener led Anglo-Egyptian Forces up the Nile Valley to avange the death of Major-General Charles George 'Chinese' Gordan, the British appointed Governor of Sudan. With Kitchener as the new "Sirdar" arabic for commander, of the Anglo-Egyptian Army, he had a strict plan of action to take on the Mahdist army. For two years Kitchener built a railway from Wadi Halfa into Sudan to supply the troops. In September 1898, Kitchener's 8,200 British Troops, and 17,600 Egyptian and Sudanese Troops met the Mahdi Army's 60,000 warriors on the hills of Karari in the Battle of Atbara. 11,000 Sudanese troops were killed, and 16,000 wounded, but the Mahdist Army was defeated. The Khalifa and a small number of troops escaped, but were extradited and executed in November of 1898. During the close of the year a young Cleric by the name of Llewellyn Henry Gwynne, petitioned to go to Sudan. Gwynne was granted passage and journeyed to Khartoum with Dr. H.J. Harpur of Cairo, to inspect the condition of Sudan. Eventually, Dr. Harpur journeyed back to Cairo. Gwynne remained in Sudan as chaplain for the British command, although he was unable to do any evangelism in-country. An American Presbyterian missionary Reverend J. Kelly Giffen got word that British forces were in Sudan.



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