Thu 7 Sep 2006
Last week I got an email message from Kelsey in Sudan, who is now titling her blog posts scary things like “I’m O.K.” She is working with an NGO that provides humanitarian aid to refugees in the Darfur region.
The situation is deteriorating quickly in the whole region, a complicated interplay which she handily explains with baseball metaphors.
In the email, she included the open letter written by a U.N. official, Jan Enlgand, who said that “in Darfur all our nightmares have become realities.”
Here is his advice (though you can read the whole letter at the link above):
“A collapse can still be averted, if you the member states will take action now. What should be done? Let me propose the following: All parties to the conflict must be reminded that there can be no military solution in Darfur, and the Government must be convinced that its planned military campaign is a prescription for disaster. AMIS must be funded, strengthened and revitalized to allow it to continue until there is a more effective UN force on the ground. And as we operate in ever more difficult and dangerous environments, humanitarian operations, which represent a lifeline for millions of people in Darfur, must be urgently funded.”
A few days ago, Kelsey sat quietly in her house as protesters marched past, shouting “Down, Down, USA.” They then vandalized the office of her NGO (which incidentally is not American) as part of the protests against UN Peacekeepers. It’s not the first time she and her NGO have been directly threatened.
I remember last year this time my sister and I got into a debate. She wanted me to write letters to my representatives about Sudan, and I didn’t want to. For one thing I didn’t know what to ask for, and for another I felt that the moment was past. Were I to write a letter today, I still don’t know what I would say, except to encourage the US to support Jan England’s recommendations in the UN. What would help? How do you break long-standing hatreds that are constantly fed by violence, oppression, and rumors? What if there were a Christian Peacekeeper for every five Sudanese people? Just there, praying and talking? Would there even be enough food for them? What if the UN forcibly stopped fighting between the warring groups for, say, a year? What if all the displaced people were returned to their towns and villages?
Here’s how I will pray, and I hope you will join me:
- The end to drought and famine
- That generational, tribal hatred and jealousy will be permanently broken
- That forgiveness and reconciliation will begin, with Sudanese Christians taking the lead
- That all leaders, Sudanese and otherwise, will put aside their particular allegiances and work with wisdom toward establishing the good of all people in the region
- That people will desire peace
- That intervening countries will act with wisdom
- That human life will be treasured and the innocent protected
- That ordinary farming and trade will resume, and that farmers and traders can conduct business without fear
- That Kelsey and her coworkers will be filled with faith and hope to keep them going in a bleak time. That they will see with the eyes of Jesus and act with his power and love.
And if you know other ways of taking action, I hope that you will.