Day 3: John Green -Author, Vlogger

Dear Mr. Green,

My name is Emmett Eldred. I am one of many youth and young adults who belong to a movement within the Church of the Brethren to live lives that better reflect the love and teachings of Jesus.

To put it in your terms, we are a passionate group of young people who want to make the world suck less, starting with ourselves.

I am writing to you as part of a series of over 1000 letters I will write to public figures over the next year about the violence in Nigeria. I chose to write to you because you are one of my favorite pubic figures, and for many other reasons that are not at all intended to stroke your ego so you grant my every request. Also, I chose to write to you because of your interest in decreasing world suck.

I want to draw your attention to one particularly potent example of world suck. You most likely remember the 276 schoolgirls from northern Nigeria who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. What you may not realize is that roughly three-fourths of those girls belong to the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. This speaks to a larger truth: few have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram more greatly than EYN.

However, I believe that focusing only on the misery of an incredible group of people like the EYN demonstrates a lack of imagination, and its not going to solve anything. In fact, highlighting only their misery, when there’s so much else about them to speak on, is a discredit to their courage and creativity.

Again, to put it in your terms, what makes us want to decrease how much the world sucks is not that fact that the world sucks, but because we can see glimpses of how awesome the world is beneath all of that suck. It’s called hope. The EYN gives me hope, so here I am, writing 1000+ letters, including one to you.

The Church of the Brethren (including the EYN) is one of three historic peace churches. Here in the United States, we’re fortunate enough to be able to plop into our comfort zones and stay there. We’re comfortable with the idea of Peace, because must of us have never had to put it into action.

It’s a very different story for the EYN. The EYN exists very deep within the realm of real conflict. As a consequence, their allegiance to peace pushes far, far deeper than our own. In the face of horrific violence that only begins with the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls, the EYN has remained firm in its commitment to peace. They choose to answer hate with love, violence with active nonviolence, and fear with hope.

The EYN is one of the most active groups of people in northern Nigeria who are pushing to replace the existing tradition of violence and hate with a tradition of community and the restoration of all people. They see the prevailing frameworks of injustice at play, and they choose to operate outside of them.

This is what I mean by creativity. The EYN is a group of people with the vision to look past the shroud of violence, hate, and general suck, and see the glimpses of awesome that manage to shine (dimly) through.

The EYN is an organization that has not let its imagination succumb to violence. I hope they we can learn by their example, and cling to our imagination, as we seek out stories of hope, and pay attention to all the wonderful, incredible acts of creative, active nonviolence around us. In this world that love to feeds off of the dismal, it’s ok to be hopeful. Optimism is not a dirty world, especially when it is supportive by activism and imagination.

I hope you will take the time to learn more about the EYN. A good place to start is Please consider sharing their story on your platforms, and partnering with them to reduce the suck of their world. I look forward to seeing your imagination at work.

You can learn more about my 1000 letters project at
You can contribute to my project or encourage others to do so at
(Or, when you write me back you can include extra stamps and/or envelopes!)
You can contribute directly to the EYN compassion fund by Googling EYN compassion fund.

With thanks and the love of Christ,

Emmett Eldred
Carnegie Mellon University SMC# 2046
Pittsburgh, PA 15289


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