In the 1990s, the Danrhé family lived at the Foyer Grebel student center. Dokmor and Lambert Aboh are in the second row on the left. Louise Zénaba, is the fifth person standing. Others in the photo are members of the Danrhé family and the family of former coworkers, Hotsche and Jacob Kikkert. Photo provided. Click on image for high resolution version.

By Janie and Neal Blough
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

​"They will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war." (Isaiah 2:4)

Our New Year's greeting in January 2015 was sent soon after the "Charlie Hebdo" shootings in Paris. This year's letter comes after the even more tragic events of Nov. 13. It's been a complicated year in Paris, as well as in many other parts of the world. Isaiah's words and the celebration of the coming of the Prince of Peace remind us of the promise that history is moving in another direction, even though daily events seem to proclaim the opposite.

 

 

In light of what has been going on in our world and in Paris, we want to share a recent experience with you, one of sadness and of hope. Our friend, Lambert Aboh Danrhé, originally from Chad, was a diplomat at his country's embassy in Paris. Civil war in the 1980s led to the entire family becoming political refugees in France. For a number of years, he was director of the Foyer Grebel, a center for international students supported by Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network. We worked with Danrhé and Louise Zénaba, his wife, and, until 2003, we all attended the same church, the Foyer Grebel congregation that has since moved to Villeneuve le Comte. After the student center closed, Danrhé's family moved to the northern suburb of Sevran.

Danrhé and Louise went to Chad in April of this year to attend his mother's funeral. On the day they were to return, Louise died unexpectedly. In the ensuing months, Danrhé himself was hospitalized with serious health issues. On Dec. 15, their 37-year-old son, Dokmor, was murdered at the Charles De Gaulle airport where he worked the night shift, stabbed to death by a homeless person.

Dokmor had a winsome smile and personality, and was in the same age range as our own children. The sad event was in the newspapers and on the media. Dokmor's friends organized a march from Sevran to the airport to establish a memorial in his honor.

Dokmor's funeral service was held in a municipal hall. Such places are rarely available for anything religious. Sevran is a suburb known for social and economic difficulties and has a very diverse population. There were several hundred people at the service – Christians, Muslims (including the local imam), privileged and disadvantaged, the director of the Charles De Gaulle airport, and a deputy mayor. The service was led by a Baptist pastor of Laotian origin from Danrhé's congregation in Sevran.

Danrhé set the tone by expressing the family's pain, but also by reassuring the employer that there were no hard feelings and that the family had no desire to think about revenge toward the perpetrator of the crime, who has since been arrested. Family members and friends of Dokmor said similar things. A choir of Chadians living in France sang. The pastor spoke of forgiveness, renouncing vengeance, overcoming evil with good, and love of enemies. The recent shootings in Paris were also mentioned, and the pastor underlined the need to learn to live together despite differences. The deputy mayor also spoke and expressed his dismay at Dokmor's death, but also his thanks for what was being said and done during the service. After the service was over, refreshments were served and people spent quite some time together. It was interesting to see the Baptist pastor and the imam in conversation as well.

In the midst of tragedy, a message of hope was proclaimed, along with a plea to follow in the footsteps of Christ. All of this was simply and clearly stated in a way that all could understand: Christian, Muslim, or secular. We left feeling like the church had lived up to its calling. In the midst of pain and sorrow, there was a strong call to hope and to love.

 Related articles

 

 

Here with purpose: Gloria GuadarramaQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5075/Here-with-purpose-Gloria-GuadarramaHere with purpose: Gloria GuadarramaGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Learning to listen withinMVS reflectionhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5093/Learning-to-listen-withinLearning to listen withinGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Tucson, Arizona
Ted Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimageJust Peace Pilgrimagehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5094/Ted-Gossard-reflects-on-recent-Civil-Rights-movement-JPPTed Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimageGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Journeys of hope "all through the night"Francehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5092/Journeys-of-hopeJourneys of hope "all through the night"GP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Calais
Assembly Mennonite youth group Just Peace Pilgrimage in photosPhoto Essayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5090/Assembly-Mennonite-youth-group-Just-Peace-Pilgrimage-in-photosAssembly Mennonite youth group Just Peace Pilgrimage in photosGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476South Texas
Sweaty flights and bulgogi: the first two days with the Youth Venture South Korea teamYouth Venturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5089/first-two-days-with-Youth-Venture-South-KoreaSweaty flights and bulgogi: the first two days with the Youth Venture South Korea teamGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission experience informs development peacebuilding strategiesBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5087/Mission-experience-informs-development-peacebuilding-strategiesMission experience informs development peacebuilding strategiesGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Denmark
For a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than everBLOGhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5084/For-a-new-dad-fatherhood-feels-more-mysterious-than-everFor a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than everGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Joe SawatzkyQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5074/Here-with-purpose-Joe-SawatzkyHere with purpose: Joe SawatzkyGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritageQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5079/Unity-in-Diversity-An-interview-with-Martin-Gunawan-about-his-cultural-heritage“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritageGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Anabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issueAnabaptist Witnesshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5077/Anabaptist-Witness-combines-scholarship-and-global-solidarity-with-Ethiopian-issueAnabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issueGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Complex grief of climate changeCreation Carehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5078/Complex-grief-of-climate-changeComplex grief of climate changeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Sibonokuhle NcubeQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5070/Here-with-purpose-Sibonokuhle-NcubeHere with purpose: Sibonokuhle NcubeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Privilege shapes our response to the migrant crisisMigrationhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5068/Privilege-shapes-our-response-to-the-migrant-crisisPrivilege shapes our response to the migrant crisisGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Calais
Here with purpose: Tim YoderQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5065/Here-with-purpose-Tim-YoderHere with purpose: Tim YoderGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476

 

 

Janie and Neal Blough have served in Paris, France, since 1975. They helped develop the Paris Mennonite Center and also teach in a variety of settings: seminaries, universities, congregations, and community events. They are also active leaders in the Châtenay-Malabry Mennonite Church.

 Related

 

 

Here with purpose: Gloria Guadarramahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5075/Here-with-purpose-Gloria-GuadarramaHere with purpose: Gloria Guadarrama
Learning to listen withinhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5093/Learning-to-listen-withinLearning to listen within
Ted Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimagehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5094/Ted-Gossard-reflects-on-recent-Civil-Rights-movement-JPPTed Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimage
Journeys of hope "all through the night"https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5092/Journeys-of-hopeJourneys of hope "all through the night"
Assembly Mennonite youth group Just Peace Pilgrimage in photoshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5090/Assembly-Mennonite-youth-group-Just-Peace-Pilgrimage-in-photosAssembly Mennonite youth group Just Peace Pilgrimage in photos
Sweaty flights and bulgogi: the first two days with the Youth Venture South Korea teamhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5089/first-two-days-with-Youth-Venture-South-KoreaSweaty flights and bulgogi: the first two days with the Youth Venture South Korea team



 

 

Here with purpose: Gloria Guadarramahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5075/Here-with-purpose-Gloria-GuadarramaHere with purpose: Gloria GuadarramaQ&A
Midwives in Chad help to reduce maternal mortalityhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5097/Midwives-in-Chad-help-to-reduce-maternal-mortalityMidwives in Chad help to reduce maternal mortalityMidwives save lives
Meet Ben and Laurel — the new co-directors of the Paris Mennonite Center!https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5096/Meet-Ben-and-Laurel-the-new-co-directors-of-the-Paris-Mennonite-CenterMeet Ben and Laurel — the new co-directors of the Paris Mennonite Center!Paris
Learning to listen withinhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5093/Learning-to-listen-withinLearning to listen withinMVS reflection
Jonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong culturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5095/Jonah-and-Memee-Yang-contextualize-the-gospel-in-the-Hmong-cultureJonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong cultureSoutheast Asia
Ted Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimagehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5094/Ted-Gossard-reflects-on-recent-Civil-Rights-movement-JPPTed Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimageJust Peace Pilgrimage