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Stories out of Darfur

Last week, Eugene at Coalition for Darfur posted a few links to some important articles concerning the ongoing crisis in that region of Sudan, where since February 2003 an on-going genocide has left as many as 400,000 killed and 3.5 million driven from their homes and living in the squalor of displaced persons camps. Particularly distressing are the stories told by former Janjaweed militia fighters (who testify that they were trained and supported by the Sudanese government) about the training, tactics and motives of that group. Please, go read them.

While heartbreaking, I passionately believe these stories must be told—and we must hear them and tell them to others. Stories and testimonies like these take the sanitized evening news and give those African villages a smell, a sound, a feel. The people begin to take shape with faces and names—and the horror of the acts we read about as “atrocities” shake your heart.

Stories like these put human faces on the masses, and I believe that is key to our lives as Christians. We must see the way Jesus sees. He sees a blind man and takes him by the hand, leads him out of a village and heals him until his eyes are clear. He sees and is moved to compassion by a mass of people, hungry and desperate, so he feeds them. He sees a mad-man, casts out a legion of demons and then sits and talks with him for hours. Jesus really sees people. He touches them and meets their needs—be it sight, food or dignity.

It’s easy to focus on the news and politics of the situation and forget what’s at stake: real, individual people. And it’s easy to think the crisis is too big for you to do anything, but you can.

If you learn about crisis, you will be able to tell others about it. What good will that do? We are telling the stories of those who have no voice (Proverbs 31:8-9). Besides telling others about it, you can support organizations who are helping the millions of people displaced by the violence in Sudan and neighboring Uganda (where additional millions have been driven from their homes by the Lord's Resistance Army, a militia reportedly supported by the Sudan government). Check out Coalition for Darfur or Invisible Children or any of the following organizations: Doctors Without Borders, World Vision, Far Reaching Ministries, or Mennonite Central Committee. Also, you can locate your congressman here, and write a letter urging your representative to call for action (see Save Darfur’s background and talking points for more on what actions governments can take to end this crisis and a sample letter you can send to your representatives). God will use our actions, no matter how small; give him something to work with.

If you’d like to learn more and find out what you can do to help end this crisis, visit World Vision, SaveDarfur, or Wikipedia.

(Image: “A Tribute to Souls,” taken by camera_rwanda at the Genocide Memorial in Nyamata Rwanda; Some rights reserved, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0; posted at flickr)