The very existence of the college is a feat of the imagination. Before Bishop Daniel came to study in the United States, he had never attended a school that was not subsequently destroyed by government troops.
Just six weeks before Davis arrived to teach in 2004, the government of Sudan razed Renk Bible School for road construction. Classrooms, library and dormitories have now been rebuilt and expanded under the leadership of the principal, Fr. Joseph Garang Atem. As a result of the Visiting Teachers Program, the Bible school is now a diploma-granting college and its curriculum is expanding. Recent courses include a “Manna and Mercy” seminar led by the Rev. Alan Storey of South Africa—an intensive week-long study of the biblical story, focusing on peace and social justice—and Jo Bailey Wells’ classes on Anglicanism.
“The students were hungry for lessons about the larger Anglican Church and impressed to find their place historically as the earliest missionary church of the Christian faith,” said Wells. “Tradition has it that Philip (Acts 8:26-40) brought the gospel to Sudan.”
The vision for Renk continues to grow, with plans to expand to a degree-granting university by 2015. “This is crucial if there are to be indigenous scholars and professors among the next generation of Sudanese Christians,” said Davis. “The Episcopal Church of Sudan has identified Renk as the college best positioned to make that move in this decade.”
After several weeks in Renk, we retraced our route back to Khartoum. The floodwaters had largely receded; the brown landscape had been transformed to a lush emerald green. In Sudan, on the ground and in the church, the wind blows and breathes, and the Spirit renews the face of the earth.
Peter Morris is a pediatrician, epidemiologist and medical director of Wake County Human Services in Raleigh, N.C. He earned his master of divinity degree at Duke in 2007 and looks forward to helping establish public health education and services under the umbrella of Renk Theological College. For more information, see the Renk Visiting Teachers Program.