Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
This call to prayer was compiled by Annie Lengacher Browning and other members of Mountain States Mennonite Conference. They invite others to gather in prayer tomorrow, March 15 from 10-10:30 p.m. Eastern/7-7:30 p.m. Pacific.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in the midst of a decades-long conflict that has taken the lives of millions of people, has displaced millions more, and has been largely ignored by the West. On Sunday, six people were kidnapped in the Kasai Central province and remain missing. They were part of a United Nations team sponsored by the Security Council to better understand the underlying drivers of the conflict and to determine which regional governments played roles in undermining the peace process.
The conflict in the DRC is not inevitable or unavoidable—the cycle of violence can be broken. These six kidnapped UN workers believe that peace in the DRC is possible and are fighting to raise awareness of this conflict that has claimed over six million lives.
Michael (MJ) Sharp is one kidnap victim, a young man raised in the Mennonite church whose life’s work was dedicated to transforming violence into peace. MJ worked in Germany with U.S. soldiers leaving Iraq who realized they were conscientious objectors, in Palestine supporting sustainable development, and, most recently, in the Eastern DRC attempting to better understand the causes of conflict and transform them into opportunities for peace.
Before his current work with the UN, Michael worked closely with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a non-governmental organization dedicated to addressing human needs and working for peace and justice. The Mennonite church has a long history of working to subvert systems of violence by being a nonviolent presence in a broken world.
God, bearer of peace and warrior of justice, may your presence surround your child, MJ, and may our prayers shine light upon his face and bring comfort to his soul. May your Holy Spirit commune with his spirit and usher him to your safe arms of rest and peace. May your presence bring solace and strength to the three drivers, translator and Zahida Katalan. We pray for the many family, friends, co-workers and peacemakers that are connected to MJ, Zahida and the four others, and ask that they may experience the power of your presence and the love that is borne in our prayers.
In this moment of vigil, we pray for MJ. (silence)
We pray for Zahida. (silence)
We pray for the first driver. (silence)
We pray for the second driver. (silence)
We pray for the third driver. (silence)
We pray for the translator. (silence)
We pray for those who have committed this act. (silence)
We pray for the millions who have lost their lives in this conflict. (silence)
We pray that the ongoing violence and bloodshed throughout the DRC would cease. (silence)
We confess our own complicit role of ignorance and silence. (silence)
We pray for ourselves and ask that our prayers would birth action and influence our awareness. (silence)
May our silent voices bear witness for MJ. May our numbed minds be illumined to awareness. May our eyes be unfettered to see the risk and sacrifice of true peace-making. May we, your people, wake up to the cries for mercy, justice and peace in the DRC. May our prayers for one be prayers for many, O God. Amen.
Photo: Michael J. (MJ) Sharp visits with Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, one of the camps for displaced people in eastern Congo. Photo by MCC/Jana Asenbrennerova.
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