Michael J. Sharp, a Mennonite peace worker formerly with Mennonite Church Canada’s ministry partner Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Central Committee, was kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 12.The DRC is beleaguered by militias competing for control of rich mineral resources, especially coltan, which is used in the production of mobile phones and laptop computers.
Michael, known as “MJ” by friends and family, is familiar with the instability and humanitarian issues of the region. Since 2015, he served as coordinator with the U.N. Group of Experts for the Democratic Republic of Congo, investigating conflict. Prior to his work with the U.N., he served as MCC’s Eastern Congo coordinator, a role which included building relationships and negotiating with militia leaders.
Taken with Michael were his U.N. colleague, Zahida Katalan of Sweden, and four Congolese nationals whose names have not been disclosed. Friends and family say that Michael is deeply committed to principles of non-violence, and if anyone is equipped to deal with such grave circumstances, he is. His father, a faculty member at Hesston College in Kansas told The Mennonite World Review, “I have said on more than one occasion that we peacemakers should be willing to risk our lives as those who join the military do. Now it’s no longer theory.”
Please pray for Michael, Zahida, their associates and all of their friends and families as this situation continues. Pray also for the kidnappers. May the light of Christ shine through the darkness.