Prayer Profile
The Murle of Sudan


Most of the 85,000 Murle live in the Pibor district of southern Sudan, where they are known as the "lowland Murle." They are primarily shepherds. Some of the Murle also live near the Boma Plateau, which lies to the southeast of Pibor. These "highland Murle" make their living as farmers. There are still others who have been drawn westward toward the plentiful watering and grazing grounds provided by the Nile.

In spite of their geographic spread, the Murle remain unified. They speak a common language and maintain close ties. They are a part of the larger people group known as the Surma, who originated in Ethiopia. The Surma gradually moved north, mixing with various peoples along the way. In time, they settled in the place where they live today.

Throughout the years, the Murle have been involved in hundreds of raids and wars. They have since gained a strong sense of identity and pride, regarding all outsiders as enemies.

What are their lives like?
The primary difference between the highland Murle and lowland Murle is their means of livelihood. The lowland Murle, which make up the majority, herd cattle and other animals, since shepherding is considered the ideal way of life to the Murle. The highland Murle, however, have either lost their cattle or forsaken shepherding and now live as farmers.

Cattle cannot survive on the Boma Plateau because of the tsetse flies living in the forests of the area. However, the region is quite fertile and suitable for agriculture because of its volcanic soil. The plains where the lowland Murle live, on the other hand, are not suitable for agriculture, but ideal for herding. Although 90 miles of uninhabited land exists between the lowland and highland Murle, they visit each other frequently, and intermarriage is common and accepted. They feel they need to depend on their fellow Murle during times of war, drought, and economic crisis.

The home is the center of the Murle way of life. Their settlements are made of a series of huts arranged into a circle. The huts are linked together by thorn hedges, which keep the cattle inside and protect them from harm. The highland Murle also have gardens near their huts.

The huts are usually built by the women. They are beehive-shaped and are made of thatched bundles of grass. The center of social activity for a settlement is "the club," a large shady tree where the elders sit, smoke, and discuss village matters. There is also a dancing floor beside this tree.

Children receive practical education from their parents at a very early age. A boy is taught to respect his elders, to be polite, not to insult, and to be always be honest. By the time a girl is in her early teens, she is good-natured, a hard worker, and a good cook.

What are their beliefs?
The Murle are animists (believe that non-living objects have spirits), following the ethnic religious practices of their ancestors. They believe the earth is flat and that their home in Sudan is at the center. The word for "sky" and the word for "God" are one and the same: Tammu. They believe that Tammu created the universe and that rain is a gift from him. They also believe that Tammu is everywhere, all-knowing, the supreme judge and ruler, and greater than all things.

Unfortunately, the Murle also believe that some spirits dwell in animals, and that the spirits of their ancestors are still present. The Murle regularly solicit the help of healers and diviners, who they believe are able to ward off evil spirits and curses. They believe visits to these diviners can keep the "good spirits" on their side, as well as keep evil spirits away from them.

What are their needs?
More than anything, the Murle need prayer, so that the Holy Spirit can plant within their hearts a desire to know the one true God. They have portions of the Bible written in their language, but they need the entire Word of God available to them. Perhaps the Murle's belief in a supreme god will provide a starting point for missionaries to share the Gospel with them.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Sudan to preach the Gospel to the Murle.
  • Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Sudan through worship and intercession.
  • Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other evangelistic materials into the Murle language.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the entire Bible into the Murle language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Murle towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Murle bound.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Murle by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Murle
  • Country: Sudan
  • Their language: Murle (Agiba)
  • Population: (1990) 74,000
    (1995) 84,600
    (2000) 96,600
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 98%
  • Christians: 2%
  • Church members: 1,691
  • Scriptures in their own language: Portions
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 3
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 27,100 (32%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 6,800 (8%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 20,300 (24%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 57,500 (68%)
  • Country: Sudan
  • Population: (1990) 24,585,400
    (1995) 28,098,500
    (2000) 32,078,700
  • Major peoples in size order: Sudanese Arab 13%
    Gaaliin 6.6%
    Guhayna 3.1%
    Beja 3%
  • Major religions: Muslim 69.3%
    Christian 19.6%
    Ethnic religionist 9%
  • Number of denominations: 20

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.

[Home] [Calendar] [Country List]