The campus community gathered in chapel yesterday to reflect on the life and work of Michael Sharp, U.N. peace worker and son of Bible and history professor John Sharp. Michael, known as MJ, was found dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo Tuesday, two weeks after he and his group went missing.
Dental records and DNA tests determined the Caucasian bodies belong to Sharp and his Swedish colleague, Zaida Catalan, the day after the bodies were found.
As reported by the AP, this is the first time U.N. experts have been captured in Congo, though parts of the country have experienced insecurity and violence for decades. Since the death of the Kamqina Nsapu militia in August, more than 400 people have been killed and more than 200,000 have been misplaced according to the U.N.
“They are in the midst of deep sorrow,” bible instructor Michele Hershberger said of John and wife Michele. “It feels like a nightmare that they want to wake up from. But it’s not.”
Hershberger also shared professor Sharp’s desire for us to pray for the captors for our own sake.
“I imagine it doesn’t make sense for some of us,” campus Pastor Todd Lehman said of the prayer request. “The simple answer – it’s out of obedience to Jesus. We pray at this time for those who seem like an enemy.”
Hershberger, former faculty member Marion Bontrager and softball coach Andrew Sharp will provide instruction for John’s classes in his absence.