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Faith in Action - Pray for an end to the genocide in Sudan

Pray for an end to the genocide in Sudan

By Kelly Keller
Faith in Action

"How long, O Lord? I cry for help, but you do not listen! I cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late." – Habakkuk reading

The homeland of our new Sudanese neighbors is awash in blood. In August, Father Joseph Taphorn, the archdiocesan director for Catholic Relief Services, spoke at a press conference to raise consciousness on the situation in Darfur, Sudan.

The entire press conference, which brought together religious leaders such as Father Taphorn and community activists from Sudan, received a four-paragraph blurb in the local newspaper. It took me more time to find where the article was buried than to read it.

On Sept. 9, Colin Powell labeled the atrocities in Sudan as "genocide." The United Nations calls the situation in Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. In the region, 1.5 million people have been internally displaced and 200,000 have fled across the border to Chad. It is estimated that 50,000 men, women and children have been killed.

Statistics don't tell the story as well as the personal tale of 35-year-old Zinab that was relayed by Catholic Relief Services. One day, the Arab "janjaweed" militia came unexpectedly to her village on a day they knew the men would be in a central location, easy to shoot. The militia surrounded the village in a death trap, indiscriminately killing people, raping women, and destroying the village.

Catholic Relief Services writes: "To reinforce the message, Sudanese government airplanes – at times as many as 10 – covered the sky and destroyed the ground below with bombs and more gunfire. Fleeing into the surrounding Sahel brush, many Sudanese headed for the Chadian border, where people like Zinab could only hope that family and friends would be waiting – that they made it, too, or, at the very least, that others would know of their fate. Zinab's two sons, ages two and eight, are still unaccounted for."

In Nebraska, more people are likely to know the details of the departure of Richie Incognito from the football program than the fact that there even is a crisis in Sudan.

It is tempting for us to read stories about nothing rather than risk the feelings of despair and helplessness when reading about suffering on a grand scale. It is tempting to invoke the adage, "Why worry about something over which I have no control?"

The Habakkuk reading reminds us that it is built into us to call out to God. Our anguish is a sacred recognition that the world is not yet the way God intended. It is up to us to remain committed of the vision, to write it clearly, and to cry out.

Catholic Relief Services offers the following suggestions for action:

* Pray for our brothers and sisters in Darfur and Chad and for peace in Sudan.

* Advocate for U.S. support to bring the crisis in Darfur to an end.

* Contribute to CRS's efforts to expand their response in Darfur.

Action alerts and prayer services are available at www.crs.org.

Kelly Keller is director of social ministry for the Archdiocese of Omaha.

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