Christian Missions and the Construction of South Sudan

bySébastien Fath

Sébastien Fath is a historian affiliated with the CNRS and the Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités research center (EPHE/CNRS). He has taught at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE – Sorbonne) and at the University of Edinburgh (2004–2005). His area of specialization is the study of Evangelical Protestantism. Within this field, he has studied baptism, the evangelical preacher Billy Graham, the Bible Belt (southern United States), the relationship between politics and religion in the United States, French evangelism, and the phenomenon of the mega-church.


The process of nation building that has characterized the recent history of South Sudan is based on several symbolic aspects, of which the religious factor is only one of many. However, religion is a more strategic component because during the second civil war, it sustained the activism of several Christian missions, including the powerful American evangelical organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham,

[1] The son of evangelist Billy Graham (see Fath 2002),…
[1] who during an evangelization “festival” that took place in Juba on October 26 and 27, 2012, explicitly linked independence, nation building, and Christian identity.
[2] This meeting, which was attended and studied on site,…
[2] Yet the mark of American evangelism on South Sudanese society is not the whole story as regards the Christian impact of the Western powers on the newly created state. Despite it now being regarded as secular, Europe, starting with the United Kingdom, continues to play a role as the former British occupying power maintains influential networks through the Anglican Communion.
In the long history of the South Sudanese provinces, other religious players have left a legacy, starting with Italy, which provided priests for the Comboni Mission. Although the history of this mission has not yet been fully written,
[3] No complete monograph on the Comboni Mission, which…
[3] Comboni missionaries played a vital role under difficult conditions in bringing Christianity to the area, building dozens of large Catholic houses of worship, most of which are still standing, and contributing to the establishment of Catholicism in South Sudan, which remains as strong as ever. What was France’s role within the Catholic sphere of influence? The aim of this study is to examine the example of Bahr el-Ghazal and the city of Wau (capital of Western Bahr el-Ghazal) through the little-known work of Father Hubert Barbier.
The context of the Marchand Mission (see below), which gave rise to the development of Wau at the end of the nineteenth century, set the stage for the establishment of long-term French influence. At the end of the first Sudanese civil war, the white Father Hubert Barbier built a medical center in Wau that was to become very important for the future of the region as even the deadly shocks of the second Sudanese civil war did not prevent the work of the center from enduring as part of the international activism of Father Barbier in support of the Christian cause in South Sudan.

read more here:–christian-missions-and-the-construction.htm

The son of evangelist Billy Graham (see Fath 2002), Franklin Graham has dedicated himself since the 1980s, when South Sudan was still embroiled in its second civil war, to humanitarian aid and evangelization in South Sudan. This support went firstly through the powerful NGO Samaritan’s Purse, which he has headed since 1979, and secondly through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

and more notes on



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.