Mubarak Korkel Khamis was born in 1942 in Jallabo village in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan. His father, Chief Khamis Omendri Luppa of the Otoro tribe, was one of the first people to convert to Christianity in the Nuba Mountains area. This development might have had an impact on young Mubarak’s later life, particularly with his involvement in the church.
Mubarak received his primary education from Kauda Primary School. Upon graduating from Kauda, he went on to study at Katcha Intermediate School before training as a teacher at Dilling Teacher Training Institute. It is unclear whether Mubarak had a teaching career before becoming an active evangelist among his people.
After discerning a call to engage in church planting, Mubarak entered a Bible School run by the Church of Christ at Shawaya in 1961. Upon completing his training there, he embarked on a two-year church planting mission crisscrossing the difficult Nuba Mountains terrain on a horse given to him by his father. Among the places in which Mubarak established churches during his two-year tour: Jallabo–the village of his birth, Baddora, Shawry, Kakalo, and Debbi, among others.
In 1963, Mubarak left the Church of Christ and joined the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS). He learned church leadership and administrative skills together with Yagoub Idris Kuku, now an archdeacon in the Episcopal diocese of Kadugli, and Yousif Abdalla Kuku, current bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Port Sudan, under the mentorship of Butrus Tia Shukai of Khartoum, then Episcopal priest at Katcha. He served as pastor in Kosti and Kadugli, among other places, in northern Sudan, while still an evangelist.
In 1974, Mubarak was ordained deacon and was priested on August 9, 1975. Nearly two years after his ordination to the priesthood, Mubarak entered a Bible teacher’s training course in the twin city of Omdurman. Shortly after his studies, he returned to the Nuba Mountains and worked among his people. He first served at Katcha and then later in Kadugli, from 1982 until he was made bishop of the Episcopal diocese of El Obeid in 1984. He remained bishop of El Obeid until his death from liver cancer on September 17, 1996 in Khartoum. He was survived by his wife, Zahara and their five sons and three daughters.
Notable among his achievements are his unrelenting sense of, and commitment to, evangelism, church planting, and the promotion of education among his people. Another area where he is credited is Bible translation. A trained Bible translator, he worked with the Sudan United Mission (SUM), a Christian mission organization that mainly worked in the Nuba Mountains in education, health, Bible translation, and church planting. With the help of Mubarak, Mary Karimi, and others, SUM was able to produce a Bible in Otoro. Mubarak was known for his tireless search for, and commitment to, the pursuit of peace and justice for all.
Zakaria Diing Akol
Kayanga, Samuel E., and Andrew C. Wheeler, eds. But God Is Not Defeated, Celebrating the Centenary of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, 1899-1999. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 1999.
Werner, Roland, W. Anderson and A. Wheeler. Day of Devastation, Day of Contentment: The History of the Sudanese Church Across 2000 Years. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2000.
Biographical note received from Ayman Korika, an acquaintance of Bishop Mubarak.
This article, received in 2010, was written by Zakaria Diing Akol, an M. Div. Student at Yale Divinity School and a 2010 DACB Project Luke Fellow. He and his wife are from Southern Sudan.