a priest's musings on the journey
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Perspectives: Save Darfur
Eight years ago I met a Dinka Refugee at a Missions Conference in Asheville, NC. One evening I had the pleasure of taking a hike with him and a few friends after a long morning of meetings. He was tall, lanky, and he walked so fast! In fact it was diffcult to keep up with him. Someone asked if always walked so fast, and he responded that in Sudan one had to learn how to always be on the run, so that they could escape when government soldiers from Khartoum came to kill and pillage. I left that conference saddened by the apparent persecution of Dinka Anglicans in Sudan and impressed by this young man's courage. Yet, his story did not really change my life any. I did nothing.
A few months later, a speaker came to the seminary to give a presentation on the persecuted Church in Sudan. He invited a small group of seminarians to attend a Conference on the genocide in Sudan in DC. The Conference goal was to educate and empower students to become active in demanding help for Sudan. I could not forget my evening hike, and I volunteeered to go.
I sat and listened to lectures about the civil war in Sudan and firsthand accounts of the war, murders, rapes, enslavement, and displacement of thousands of men, women, and children. I sat in tears, horrified that this could actually go on unchallenged. I was not in favor of using military power to stop this; but something had to be done. I of course, along with many other students, wrote letters to the editors of major newspapers, and to senators asking our Government to help. We organized prayer vigils and tries to educate churches about what was happening in Sudan.
Little was ever done. Thank God peace came and these attrocities ended when The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed by the government and Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement on January 9, 2005. It ended the war and established the parameters for a new unified government. But before this peace, 2 million people had died and 4 million had been displaced because of their race, ethnicity, and religion.
In 2003 a new civil war eupted in Darfur, and government sanctioned genocide continues. 400,000 have died either from murder, or from the ill effects of unclean water, famine, and harsh living conditions, and thousands of women have been raped by the Janjaweed. 2 million people have been displaced and are homeless because the Janjaweed have torched their villages and stolen what few possessions they had.
And still we do nothing.
Christ lies on the desert sands starving, bleeding, dying...
Christ lies on a sandy floor raped, violated, humilaited...
Christ wanders through the desert almost naked, homeless, joyless
Christ wanders through the desert with no song, no dance, no smiles
What will we do?
Will we cover our faces with our masks of righteousness and garments of antiseptic good deeds, and cross over to the other side so we will not have to be bothered with him?
Will we passby with pitying gaze, hoping that someone else will stop by and assist him?
Will we cry out for justice! Will we squat in the dirt and attend to his wounds, clothe his nakedness, offer him a cup of water and a compassionate embrace?
Or... will we just let Christ die... agian.
For more information on the history of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and current news and activist links click here Darfur Info.