WASHINGTON, D.C. — A biblically based eight-week study to accompany the best-seller Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond was written to help the Christian community mobilize against this most heinous crime against humanity.
Not on Our Watch Christian Companion
The Not on Our Watch Christian Companion: Biblical Reflections on the Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond was written by Bill Mefford, director of Civil and Human Rights for the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church, and Greg Leffel, president, One Horizon Foundation. The authors, who are receiving no remuneration for their work, told a press briefing conducted at The United Methodist Building across from the U.S. Capitol here 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.”
Mefford said the authors wanted to stay away from abstract, theological detachment. “We tried to make it as personal as possible,” he said, citing stories of Darfur refugees and aid workers the study guide contains. “The most powerful part of the Christian Companion are the steps people will take to get engaged.”
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 Not on Our Watch with Academy Award winning actor Don Cheadle, took part in the press briefing. He said the Christian Companion is exactly what 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-chair 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.
“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.”
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, Ken. He holds a Ph.D. 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. As director of Civil and Human Rights on the United Methodist Board of Church & 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 www.darfurchristianaction.org. The Web site includes activities to accompany the resource.
The Christian Companion was published by The ENOUGH Project in association with the General Board of Church & 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. To learn more about ENOUGH and what you can do to help, go to www.enoughproject.org.
The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education and Leadership Formation, United Nations and International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the 11.3 million members of the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center at the United Nations. Its Web site is www.umc-gbcs.org.
One Horizon exists to encourage cooperative action for the common good among a variety of civil society organizations through grants and other forms of assistance. More information is available at www.onehorizon.org.