A Lesson From Darfur

Matthew 2: 16 - When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

This past week I listened in with great interest about the news that the International Criminal Courts have charged Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide and crimes against humanity. These charges stem from his organization of a campaign of violence, which has displaced some 2.5 million people and led to the death of hundreds of thousands in Darfur during the past five years.

Every report I hear or article I read about the crisis in Darfur saddens me. I am disturbed and outraged, so as often as I can I make it my goal to be another voice that shares with sleepy Americans the tragedy going on in Darfur. Genocide is not just some eight-letter word we can afford to be coy with and suggest that it is only a problem in places far, far away. Genocide is real. It’s happening now and it’s closer to home than many of us wish to acknowledge. The simplest understanding is it is a systematic approach to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

We can see a similar event happening in the Bible. In the days of the Christ child being born, King Herod, afraid of losing his political power and economic advantage to the baby Jesus, put out an edict to have every boy under the age of two killed in an effort to stop what he thought would be a kingdom takeover by the baby Jesus. Unfortunately, Herod misinterpreted old prophetic text; he thought Jesus came to establish a literal Kingdom, not understanding the Christ child was sent to establish a Heavenly Kingdom. However, Jesus was saved, when an angel appeared to Joseph and said “Wake up…. take your child and escape to Egypt.”

We need to heed that same call with our own children today. With the ever increasing rate of African-American boys and girls being railed off to prison at rates almost twice that of Caucasian and Latino incarceration rates, we must wake-up! African-American woman between the ages of 18 – 35 is the fastest growing group of reported HIV/AIDS cases. We must wake-up! Our high-school dropout rates are upwards of 50% in many urban cities. We must wake-up! We are dying younger and younger from diabetes and heart disease. We must wake-up! These are more than just statistics but indicators that systematically something has gone seriously wrong and we must be active to challenge the powers that be locally, regionally and nationally in order to save our children and save ourselves.

My heart bleeds with concern and sadness for the people of Darfur today; and I pray they will soon receive the help that is necessary and the justice that is deserved. Likewise, I pray that we keep our eyes open in our own communities and with our youth and never get so comfortable to think this is someone else’s problem.

Najuma Smith is a preacher, world traveler, writer, and proud parent. She currently serves as the full-time Sr. Pastor of St. James AME Church in Los Angeles. Unapologetically saved and full of purpose, she enjoys sharing words of encouragement with anyone who will listen, bringing a fresh look at life in light of the Word of God. Her collection of motivations and observations are exclusive to Urban Thought Collective. Visit her at