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