The Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Bureau of African Affairs, Room 6234A
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield,
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 leadership in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, and because of your distinguished record of working with refugees in Africa.
You recall the night in April when 276 Chibok Schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. Less widely known is that roughly three-fourths of those girls belong to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. This speaks to a larger truth about the violence by Boko Haram in Nigeria: the EYN has suffered greatly.
I don’t think a letter from me will give you much greater insight into the depth of suffering in Nigeria. You know about that. Instead, I want to tell you a story of inspiration and hope in the midst of such tragedy.
The Church of the Brethren, including the EYN, is one of three historic peace churches. In the midst of such unspeakable violence and despair, the EYN have managed to flourish in their faith. Rather than shrug away their commitment to peace in such hard times, the EYN has embraced this conviction and have proven how resilient love and nonviolence can be in the face of hatred, suffering, and violence.
The EYN has stepped up to its calling to be a light of Christ to all of Nigeria, including their enemies. They have refused to become part of the tradition of violence and hatred that so plagues this region. Even though the depths of their own misery is great, they have chosen to spend their resources not just for their own protection and recovery, but instead in the restoration of their neighbors and communities.
I want to share with you their story, because I believe that helping the people of the EYN is the most reliable investment you can make towards building a sustainable and manageable peace. Furthermore, I think the EYN is a valuable model to consider as you seek out solutions to the difficulties in Nigeria.
I urge you to remember the EYN in your thoughts, prayers, and decisions. Honor their lived devotion to building peace and resisting violence with love by pursuing humanitarian, nonmilitary solutions. Considering providing aid to the EYN, because this will be an investment used for the proliferation of violence and the restoration of communities. Be inspired by the EYN’s commitment to peace by carrying the same spirit of humility and nonviolence as you explore solutions to the problems created by Boko Haram. Be inspired by their story, and pay credit to their sacrifices in the name of peace.
With thanks and the love of Christ,
Carnegie Mellon University SMC# 2046
Pittsburgh, PA 15289