(Mennonite Mission Network) – We grieve with many others as we learn that Michael J. Sharp, known as MJ, died along with his Swedish and Congolese co-workers while pursuing peace. On Mar. 28, his body was discovered in a shallow grave along with the bodies of Zaida Catalán, a Swedish UN staff person, and Betu Tshintela, a Congolese interpreter. Although Sharp's life has come to an end, his peace witness continues across the world.
Sharp served through Mennonite Mission Network with the Military Counseling Network from 2005-2008. He helped U.S. troops navigate the complex military regulations to achieve status as a conscientious objector, and helped them to deal with the trauma of war.
Later, Sharp would go on to work for peace with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and the United Nations in Democratic Republic of Congo. But even apart from this work, Sharp was a peaceful presence.
"I was a teenager when MJ was living with us," said Benjamin Krauss, his host brother during his time in Germany. "He was very influential in my life, shaping me to greater awareneess of the interconnections between people and conflicts and the need to build relationships and give people a way out of situations of violence."
On Tuesday evening, Mar. 28, there was a candlelight vigil in Goma, a city on the north end of Lake Kivu on the border of Congo and Rwanda. In Bukavu, at the south end of this border lake, Congolese partners, the Swedish Pentecostal organization, and MCC DR Congo staff are planning an Apr. 1 memorial service. Please join us in celebrating their work for peace, mourning their tragic loss, and extending our sympathy to Sharp's friends and family.
Learn more about Sharp's work in Germany in this 2006 article by Mennonite Mission Network, and more about his life and later work in The Mennonite World Review.