Where is our Darfur witness?

(system) #1

By Alexander Carpenter

As I pointed out a few days ago, our church leaders have not officially spoken out on Darfur. But who then is our neighbor?

Here is a very significant list of key leaders in American Christendom who believe that the 400,000 who have died and the 2.5 million displaced persons are our neighbors, too. In fact, these Christian leaders backed it up and took out ads in major US papers calling for our government to use its considerable diplomatic resources to end the suffering in Darfur. And they did it as bible-believing followers of Jesus.

They include: Dr. Tony Campolo, Baptist evangelist and international speaker Rev. Rich Cizik, Vice-president for Government Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals Rev. Bill Hybels, Pastor, Willow Creek Church, leader of Willow Creek Association Dr. Richard Land, President, Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionRev. Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners/Call to Renewal, author of God's Politics

For those who know the current public scene, that is a pretty significant mix of folks on the right and left. Listen to their interesting and principled public press conference call here.

In 1999, our church leaders spoke out on the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo - why haven't we done it for the people of Darfur?

In October, I wrote an essay saluting General Conference president Jan Paulsen for his speech in which he thoughtfully asked: "Does leadership nurture a church which is so focused on spirituality and eternity that they have no feelings in their hearts for what is happening to society today, except to condemn decaying morality," he added, "Do they think about the environment; do they care about HIV [and] AIDS; and what about poverty? Do they understand what poverty really is?"Already some Adventist laity are ready for our leaders to see these words put into action.

Johnny Ramirez said: "You'd think our international church would care about our Adventist brothers and sisters in Darfur. . . ."

George Odell added: "Yes, let's encourage our leadership to speak out, to direct ADRA to the region but most importantly, to strongly but respectfully encourage our African church leadership to actively engage this ongoing African crisis. This will be the most effective response from the Adventists community."

Blogging over at Adventist Pulpit, Sherman Cox II notes that Adventist UN liason Jonathan Gallager says that Adventist churches are increasingly speaking out on social issues such as poverty, AIDS, human trafficing, and the environment. Sherman adds: "It is good news to see the church standing up to fight the pain and hurt in the world. Let us pray that God will continue to use our church to be a blessing to the world."

And Courtney Krudy pointed out: "I can't believe the Church has not already made a statement on Darfur. Its just sad. But if there is enough pressure put on Church leadership they will do the right thing...they are after all *our* leaders." Here's the direct comment line to good-hearted President Paulsen.

This thanksgiving season, consider letting him know that you - as a Christian and a member of the Adventist community - care about our public witness for humanitarian action in Darfur.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4420