“In a war zone, everyone is a target.”
During this Season of Peace, we are reminded that peacemaking is active not passive, doing not waiting. Jaff Bamenjo (BA-MEN-JO), the coordinator of the Network for the Fight Against Hunger in Cameroon (RELUFA) and an International Peacemaker, has a very clear understanding of why this is important. His work in Cameroon is sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and World Mission, which are supported by gifts to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.
The English-speaking minority in Cameroon were becoming marginalized in a mostly French-speaking country. In 2016, because of the growing inequities, lawyers and teachers organized peaceful protests. The government responded with violence that escalated into war, touching Jaff very deeply. Last April, his aunt lost her home when the military set fire to it. His sister’s husband was killed, “not because he committed any crime, but simply because in a war zone, everyone is a target.”
“These acts of barbarity and inhumanity violate the sacredness of human life and are sacrilegious to the worship of God,” wrote one member of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon.
“I have strength because of the many people in the world who care.”
Despite his grief, Jaff continues his work of more than a decade to help others who are suffering. In 2005, the Network identified recurring hunger problems in the poor and densely populated northern region of the country as a particular area of need and worked with communities to make sustainable food available. This project helped people in these communities avoid paying high prices for food during lean times and ensured that food was available year-round.
Amidst the chaos and violence, Jaff and the Network continue to work to help the most vulnerable populations. “Addressing the root causes of hunger is always better than focusing on the symptoms. Solving problems at an early stage is always better than running behind to resolve conflicts.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a long-term relationship with the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon and International Peacekeepers in the region.
“As an individual, I often feel helpless,” says Jaff, “but I know I have strength because of the many people in the world who care.”
Together, through our gifts, we are building God’s household in Cameroon, in our own community and in other places where compassion, peace and justice are not just heartfelt words, but lifesaving needs. Through our gifts, we are active peacemakers. We are builders. And when we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.
Let us pray
God of peace, draw near to all those who suffer violence. Transform the hearts of all who harm your children because of perceived difference to see our common humanity and your face among those harmed. Amen.
For more information and resources related to the Peace & Global Witness Offering, visit the Special Offerings website.
This post is based on a regional Minute for Mission which can be found on our website as a script.
Please give generously to the Offering:
- Through your congregation
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