Day 2: Representative Chris Smith – Chairman, House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights

The Honorable Chris Smith
2373 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Smith,

My name is Emmett Eldred. I am one of many youth and young adults from across the United States who belong to an active, youth-led movement within the Church of the Brethren to live lives committed to honoring Jesus and his profound love. I am writing this letter to you as part of a series of over 1000 letters that I will be writing to public figures over the next year about the violence in Nigeria.

I chose to write to you because of your outstanding record of defending human rights and because of your leadership in the House on issues concerning Africa and human rights.

No doubt, you remember the night in April when 276 Chibok school girls in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram. What you might not realize is that roughly three-fourths of these girls belong to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. This speaks to a larger truth: few groups have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram as severely as the EYN.

As Christians, we both know how terrible suffering can do little to suppress the hope found in Christ. Though their trials are great, the EYN has flourished in their faith and in their commitment to reflecting Jesus’ love in their actions.

The Church of the Brethren, including EYN, is one of three historic peace churches. Instead of wavering in this commitment to peace, the EYN has shown tremendous, inspiring courage in remaining nonviolent and returning severe hatred with even greater love.

Moreover, the EYN understands that they are called to be a beacon of Christ’s love to all of Nigeria. The EYN is concerned not only with their own recovery but with the restoration of their neighbors and communities as well.

The EYN draws from the inspiration of Jesus in pursuing solutions to their suffering that will create a tradition of love and peace, rather than adding to the prevailing tradition of violence and hatred. In this spirit, I am asking you to honor the EYN’s courage, tragedy, and commitments by pursuing nonviolent, humanitarian solutions to the violence in Nigeria. These are incredible people, doing incredible things. In the midst of such evil and hardship, they have provided an example to Christians everywhere of what being a true disciple means.

I urge you to prayerfully consider how you can help pursue a peaceful solution to the tragedies in Nigeria. Remember the EYN and all Nigerians in your thoughts, prayers, and decisions. Be inspired by their stories. Pay credit to their faith by pursuing humanitarian, nonmilitary aid for the EYN and Nigeria.

With thanks and the love of Christ,

Emmett Eldred
Carnegie Mellon University SMC#2046
Pittsburgh, PA 16648

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