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Study guide offers steps on Darfur involvement

  Greg Leffel speaks about a new study he co-authored on the genocide in Darfur during an Aug. 6 press conference. John Prendergast listens.
UMNS photos by Wayne Rhodes.

By Wayne Rhodes*
Aug. 11, 2008 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)

A biblically based study, developed to accompany a best-selling book on the crisis in Darfur, is available to help the Christian community mobilize against atrocities in Sudan.

Not on Our Watch Christian Companion: Biblical Reflections on the Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond is an eight-week study written by Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and Greg Leffel, president of One Horizon Foundation.

The authors, who are receiving no payment for their work, told an Aug. 7 press briefing conducted at The United Methodist Building across from the U.S. Capitol that they intended to create a resource that crossed all theological lines in the Christian community.

Not on Our Watch Christian Companion: Biblical Reflections on the Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond is a biblically based study to help Christians mobilize against
the killings in Sudan.


"We wanted to provide biblical reflections that enable people to think through how to respond to genocide," said Leffel. "We hope to raise awareness about why it's right to be involved in this issue in the first place and how to become organized. We tried to link Christian traditions to the wider movement against genocide."

Mefford said the authors wanted to stay away from abstract, theological detachment. "We tried to make it as personal as possible," he explained, citing stories of Darfur refugees and aid workers that are in the study guide. "The most powerful part of the Christian Companion are the steps people will take to get engaged."

Weekly study guide

Each chapter of the Christian Companion constitutes a weekly study designed to guide group discussion and reflection about Darfur and the movement to end genocide. Each session includes a biblical passage for reflection, a lesson applying the passage to Darfur, a weekly action step, and vignettes by refugees, activists and Christians who have awakened to the problem of genocide.

Human rights activist John Prendergast, who wrote the book, Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond with Academy Award winning actor Don Cheadle, took part in the press briefing. He said the Christian Companion is needed now because no audience is more vital and viable than its faith-based target readers.

"Genocide is a crime with no equal, the ultimate crime against humanity," said Prendergast, co-chairperson of the ENOUGH Project to end genocide and crimes against humanity. During the Clinton administration, he was involved in peace processes in Africa while director of African Affairs at the National Security Council and special adviser at the U.S. Department of State. "Genocide demands response," he said.

For the first time in history, a mass movement is developing against genocide, according to Prendergast. He pointed out that there was no answer by other nations during Nazi Germany's Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s, Pol Pot's killing fields in Cambodia in the 1970s or the Hutu massacres in Rwanda in the 1990s.

"We tried to make it as
personal as possible,"
says co-author Bill Mefford,
citing stories of Darfur refugees and aid workers.


"Despite the mass movement's growth, genocide rages on," Prendergast said. "Our goal is to build a permanent constituency among the faith-based communities to address genocide wherever it happens, to help ensure that the United States will do all it can to prevent genocide."

Step-by-step process

Leffel and Mefford structured the Christian Companion to provide a step-by-step process to get involved through a "reflection/action" format. Leffel said there are steps to follow and resources to connect to others opposing genocide as well.

Both authors are graduates of Asbury Theological Seminary. Leffel is president of One Horizon Foundation and co-founder of Communality, a Christian missional community in Lexington, Ky. He holds a doctorate in intercultural studies from Asbury and is author of Faith Seeking Action: Mission, Social Movements and the Church in Motion.

Mefford earned a doctorate in missiology from Asbury. In his position with Church and Society, he works primarily on the issues of immigration, refugees, criminal justice reform, and abolition of the death penalty and torture.

The Not on Our Watch Christian Companion is available in paperback and sells for $7.50. Copies can be ordered through http://www.darfurchristianaction.org online. The Web site includes activities to accompany the resource.

The Christian Companion was published by The ENOUGH Project in association with the Board of Church and Society and One Horizon Foundation. ENOUGH is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. It was founded in 2007 with an initial focus on the crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda and Somalia.

*Rhodes is director of communications for the Board of Church and Society.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Board of Church and Society

One Horizon Foundation

ENOUGH Project

Darfur Christian Action

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