It arrived on Saturday in the predawn hours.
When I looked at my smartphone and saw this particular tweet, tears instantly came.
Let us pray for peace in Africa, especially in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan. #prayforpeace
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) February 15, 2014
“Why?” you may ask. “What’s the big deal? It’s only 109 little characters on Twitter. How can it change anything?”
I would answer you this way: You are right. One tweet will not stem the rising tide of ungodly violence in the Central African Republic and the tremendous challenges in South Sudan (as outlined by CRS here).
But you and I can.
And by inspiring the faithful around the world to #Prayforpeace, Pope Francis has underscored the role that each of us can play in this situation unfolding half a world away.
The same tweet was published in multiple languages, including Arabic:
Do we truly believe in the power of prayer? I do. And I believe that in this situation, we need to venture out of our comfort zones, learn the facts, educate our loved ones, and advocate for peace.
To bring yourself up to speed on the situation occurring in the Central African Republic, PLEASE take 8 minutes and watch this excellent video of Christiane Amanpour (who has been a tireless advocate in this situation) interviewing Peter Bouckaert (Emergency Director of Human Rights Watch). The video does contain a few very upsetting images, but it also provides a good primer for what has brought CAR to this point of crisis.
Having been so recently in Rwanda and as we count down to the April commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, these images weigh so very heavily on my heart. In the CAR, we see all of the warning signs of mass atrocities. We also hear the dual voices of Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and Imam Omar Kabine Layama begging for peace and an international response in the region.
Here, half a world away, it’s easy to say, “Let’s fight our own battles.” I concur that we see need and grief in our own communities. But it’s simply impossible for me to watch this situation unfold and not hit my knees and beg God to intervene, to somehow soften the hearts of these people and to bring lasting peace and healing to the region.
I cannot rest. And I don’t want to simply turn away to shield myself from the horror.
One tweet on Saturday from Pope Francis put this issue on the hearts and minds of millions of followers around the world. Now it’s our turn to educate ourselves and to #Prayforpeace!
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.