Title: Remember the peacemakers Sept. 14, 2006 Church of the Brethren News Service Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, News Director 800-323-8039 ext. 260 -- email@example.com
REMEMBER THE PEACEMAKERS
By David Whitten
Sept. 14, 2006 (Elgin, IL) -- I was feeling rather full after leaving Rev. Anthony Ndumsai's home in Jos, Nigeria. I had been invited to a meal with the family of seven. Ndumsai has not received a salary in four months. That didn't stop him from inviting me as their guest for supper.
From the looks of things in the pot, I knew they went to the market to
purchase meat and spaghetti to prepare as fine a meal as was possible under the circumstances. Nigerians are a gracious people. It is humbling to be on the receiving end of such hospitality.
During our meal together, he told me a story that I want to share with you.
Just days before our own tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, interreligious violence erupted in this otherwise peaceful city. More than 2,000 people were bludgeoned, hacked, and burned to death. Tensions ran high between Christians and Muslims.
After the initial eruption of violence, there came a quiet that lay over the city. A Muslim man and his two sons had been holed up in their home, fearful to venture out. They ran out of food. The father told his two sons, ages 13 and 11, to go to their farm and bring back some corn to eat.
The farm lay adjacent to the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN). While the boys were out on their farm, they were spotted by a Christian driving by. The man drove to TCNN and told the Christian theological students that these two boys were spies sent out to find a way to attack the students.
Many of the students armed with machetes and sticks rushed out and threw the two small boys to the ground, stripped them of their clothes, and began to beat them. The man who had the car left, returning with a can of gasoline and matches. He encouraged the students to burn these children to ashes in retaliation for the many Christians who had lost their lives at the hands of Muslims.
Several students who were members of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa Nigeria (EYN the Church of Brethren in Nigeria), including Ndumsai, ran out to see the horror unfolding. They stood between the other Christian students and the two small Muslim boys. The Brethren students refused to let the others act out their plan for vengeance.
After much heated debate, the flames of retaliation cooled and soon only the EYN students remained with the two Muslim boys. The boys filled their sacks with corn and returned home to where their anxious father waited.
Ndumsai did not tell me this story out of pride for a deed well done. He told me the story because of the epiphany he experienced during the incident. He became convinced of the power of nonviolence, confirming for him that the teachings of Jesus about peace were meant to be practiced. He turned to embrace the faith and practices of the Church of the Brethren on pacifism.
Rev. Ndumsai is currently in seminary, finishing his master's degree. His thesis is on the theology of pacifism as interpreted by the Church of the Brethren.
After returning home from the Ndumsai home, I had a lot to digest. There are many stories of Muslims saving Christians, and Christians saving Muslims, during the crisis in Jos on Sept. 7, 2001. It is time to hear at least one of these stories.
--David Whitten is Nigeria mission coordinator for the Church of the Brethren General Board.
The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination committed to continuing the work of Jesus peacefully and simply, and to living out its faith in community. The denomination is based in the Anabaptist and Pietist faith traditions and is one of the three Historic Peace Churches. It celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2008. It counts about 130,000 members across the United States and Puerto Rico, and has missions and sister churches in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nigeria.
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For more information contact:
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford Director of News Services Church of the Brethren General Board 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 800-323-8039 ext. 260 firstname.lastname@example.org
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