In Search of Peace in the Sudan

“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.” (Psalm 46:9, ESV)

Just before midnight on Friday, February 27th, 2009, I drove to the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Base, near the Lusaka International Airport. What took me there at such an awkward hour? It was the opportunity to see off my younger brother, and only surviving sibling, Staff Sergeant Mwitwa Makashinyi. (Pictured earlier at the Farewell Parade).
In a matter of minutes, he was to fly to Sudan as part of a contingent of Zambian military personnel sent to this vast northeastern African country on the United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping Mission.

After over three months of specialised training at a military camp south of Lusaka, the more than 150 soldiers were transported from the camp to the ZAF base in three big buses late Friday night. A week before their departure, they were given only a day to go and say bye to their families! I missed that opportunity to meet my younger brother, and so I elected to have my chance at the airport, though it was going to be late in the night. I was in touch with my brother on phone, so I knew exactly what time to leave home and join the convoy just a few kilometres before the ZAF Base. I think I was the only civilian who drove into the base that night, and my brother the only one to have a relative to see him off.

Just a little background about the United Nations Peace Keeping Missions. This is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict create the conditions for lasting peace. According to the UN website (, the field operations of these peacekeeping missions have expanded from “traditional” missions involving strictly military tasks, to complex “multidimensional” enterprises designed to ensure the implementation of comprehensive peace agreements and assist in laying the foundations for sustainable peace. Today’s peacekeepers undertake a wide variety of complex tasks, from helping to build sustainable institutions of governance, to human rights monitoring, to security sector reform, to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. (Picture of UN forces escorting a convoy of humanitarian aid into Darfur)

The first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, when the Security Council authorised the deployment of UN military observers to the Middle East to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, there have been a total of 63 UN peacekeeping operations around the world, and Zambian troops have participated in some of these operations.

Sudan is the largest and one of the most diverse countries in Africa. The population stands at 40 million. Since attaining independence from British rule in 1956, military regimes favouring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics. Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars, mainly between the Moslem North and the Christian South, during most of the remainder of the 20th century. The first civil war ended in 1972 but broke out again in 1983. The second war and famine-related effects resulted in more than four million people displaced and close to two million deaths over a period of two decades.

Perhaps the most famous, if not infamous word in international news concerning Sudan is Darfur. This is a desert region in western Sudan roughly the size of France, and has about seven significant rebel factions, who took up arms claiming the region had been neglected and marginalised, but are divided in their loyalties. The conflict in Darfur which broke out in 2003 has displaced nearly two million people and caused an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 deaths. Although a North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in January 2005, peace and political stability remain elusive.

On March the 4th, 2009, the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant of arrest for Sudanese President, General Omar Hasan al-Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur. This indictment has not gone down well with the Sudanese government which has already issued veiled threats against the UN and AU missions in Sudan, the international humanitarian agencies operating there and Sudanese who support the ICC prosecution. This will pose a real threat to the already fragile peace situation in Sudan.

This is the country to which my younger brother and other Zambian military personnel have been deployed as UN peace keepers. Two weeks before their departure to Sudan, I was privileged to attend a Farewell Parade for the soldiers at Arakan Barracks, here in Lusaka. This was a colourful event, though solemn for us whose relatives were going to be away to a war torn country for such a long time. The soldiers were addressed by the guest of honour, the Zambian Minister of Defence Mr. George Mpombo and the army commander General Isaac Chisuzi. (See pictures below)

I thank God that my brother is a Christian, and serves as deacon in his church. He is married with three sons, and his wife Judith is also a staff sergeant in the military (Zambia National Service). Please, do remember to pray for my brother and his colleagues that God will keep them safe. Pray that my brother will bear testimony to the transforming power of the gospel of God’s grace to his friends. Pray for his family back home, that the Lord will watch over his wife and children, and keep them in good health. (see picture of his family)

Pray that the Sudanese government may exercise restraint in its response to the decision to President Al-Bashir’s indictment and ensure that its actions do not undermine the opportunity to achieve peace in Sudan. Pray that Christ’s church in Sudan might thrive in the midst of conflict and be a banner of hope as it witnesses to the power of the gospel to change lives and foster peace.

Lasting peace will only come through the One who “makes wars cease to the end of the earth…”

Peace efforts through human institutions such as the UN are important and must be encouraged, but as subservient means, they can only go so far. They are only a temporal answer to the volatility in our world. Lasting peace will only come through the One who “makes wars cease to the end of the earth…” (Ps. 46:9). God alone is the One who can put an end to the wars of the nations and crown them with peace. War and peace depend on His word and will. And before He establishes a peaceful universal kingdom at the end of the age, when the instruments of wholesale murder shall be consigned to ignominious destruction, He is presently working in the hearts of people, breaking down the walls of hostility through the accomplished work of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we hugged with my brother in the cool breeze of that Friday night, I felt a wetness on my face as tears welled in my eyes and flowed down my cheek. I said a quick prayer to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, I entrust into your hands the life of my dear brother, my only brother and sibling, watch over him, and may it please you to bring him and his colleagues safely back home at the end of their mission.”

As I drove back home that night, I reflected on how truly privileged Zambia has been. God has blessed our nation with peace and stability since independence. For this, we are to be deeply grateful. Let us not relent in praying that this shall continue for many years to come, so "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:2-4).


  1. May God Bless you and your family and your brother and his family and keep all of you safe. And we pray that the peace keeping mission will be successful. We love you Isaac!!

  2. Amen dear brother in Christ. This is also my prayer for your brother and his companions and may God be pleased to display His wisdom through your brother that he may be an effective witness to the glory of our God and savior Jesus Christ. I also commit myself to prayer for the Sudanese people that God would bring peace and healing to them. Thank you for keeping us updated through your blog.

  3. May God bless you and the family. God will always be with you.