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					                                 The Advocate
              A paper and portal serving Christian Reformed social activists.

                                                  Issue 1002
Inside this issue:
Peace Comes to Sudan…Recent developments in the Sudan conflict, and don’t forget the IDOP…
A Place of Healing…Curious about how restorative justice can heal lives? So was this CRC pastor.
News Briefs…Clean diamonds for Canada, Sing! Workshop kicks off in Illinois, and more.
Websites and Resources…Great places to look for you or your congregation.
Advocate Calendar…Stay in the loop, from Grimsby to GR.
Contact Information…Questions, comments, submissions?
                                         Peace Comes to Sudan?
After nineteen years of civil war, the country of Sudan is closer to peace now than at any time during the brutal
war. Three major developments have occurred in the last few months: the northern government and southern
rebels have agreed to a preliminary peace and cease-fire, the United States has passed the Sudan Peace Act, and
the two sides have allowed unfettered access to United Nations humanitarian aid throughout the remainder of
the peace talks.

Over the summer, in part because the southern rebels were united for the first time in years, both sides finally
realized that neither could fully win the war under the current conditions. In July, the sides agreed to the
Machakos Protocol, a preliminary peace agreement developed in Machakos, Kenya. This agreement detailed
plans for establishing an interim government in the south. After six years, the south would have the
opportunity to vote on whether to remain under this government or secede from the north. In addition, the south
would be guaranteed exemption from the imposition of Shariah law. The sides have now agreed to the
necessary comprehensive cease-fire and are currently negotiating details on the structure of this interim
government and issues of wealth sharing (especially revenues from oil sales).

These developments enabled the United States to pass the Sudan Peace Act in mid-October. This bill had been
floundering between the Senate and House for over a year because of debate over certain provisions that would
have denied access to US stock markets for companies profiting in Sudan. These provisions were dropped in
favor of specific steps designed to encourage honest and faithful negotiating between the north and the south. If
the north does not negotiate in good faith, president Bush can limit political relations with the government of
Sudan, push to restrict international loans, ask the United Nations for arms embargoes, and deny access to oil
revenues. If the south fails to negotiate in good faith, the north will not be subject to penalties. Congress
passed the bill almost unanimously, and President Bush has signed it into law.

In addition, the comprehensive cease-fire and peace negotiations have enabled the United Nations to obtain
unfettered access to all parts of the country for humanitarian aid for the duration of the peace talks. This is a
first for the United Nations’ Operation Lifeline Sudan program, which has often been denied access to the
neediest parts of the country or even come under direct, physical attack itself. This joint agreement between the
north, the south, and the United Nations opens the way for the United Nations to meet the needs of many of the
suffering people living in Sudan.
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is November 10, 2002. Pray that the
persecution in Sudan may finally end. Over the last nineteen years, Sudan has been the site of extreme
persecution, both religious and political. The extreme Muslim government in the north has attempted to impose
Shariah law on Christians, animists, and even moderate Muslims living in the south. A large part of the war is
also over control of oil resources. In nineteen years, two million people have been killed, four million
displaced, and many more taken as slaves (mainly women and children). Now the two sides are taking bigger
steps toward peace than ever before. Pray that negotiations will go smoothly, the cease-fire will hold, and they
may establish a lasting, just peace. If you live in the United States, write your Senator or Representative and
thank her or him for passing the Sudan Peace Act. If you live in Canada, consider writing or boycotting
Talisman Oil who are directly profiting from investments in Sudan and helping to fund the war efforts.

Pray also for Indonesia. Continued violence there has once again made relations between Muslims and
Christians tense. For more information on religious persecution or the International Day of Prayer for the
Persecuted Church, please visit –Jay Blankespoor
                                             A Place of Healing
I had been invited to sit in as an observer. It was my first experience of a Restorative Justice Circle. I walked
into the gymnasium of an empty school. In the middle of the gymnasium’s tiled floor was a circle of cold,
plywood chairs; like the kind found in many churches and schools. A second row of cold, plywood chairs
circled behind the first row. A pleasant looking person serving as a host approached me. She introduced
herself and asked in what capacity I was participating. I informed her that I had been invited to observe. She
asked me to take a seat in the second row of plywood chairs, which I did.

Sitting there, I observed a group of people standing quietly at one end of the gymnasium. There was the odd
whisper. Some of them - nervous like - shuffled from one foot to another. I noticed a second group of people,
behaving in much the same way, on the other side of the gymnasium. A table containing mugs, cans of Coke,
baked goods and a coffee percolator - whose gurgling was creating the most noise in the gymnasium - stood at
another end of the gymnasium.

After several minutes, Ron Hunt, an Anglican clergy person in Renfrew, acting as convener, asked all the
participants to sit down. After they were seated, Ron explained the procedure, asked if there were any questions
and invited each person in the circle to introduce themselves. There were two teenage girls, parent(s) of each
girl, two friends to support the two teenage girls, three teenage boys, parent(s) of each boy, a high school
principal, a physical education teacher/ basketball coach, a lawyer, and a police officer.

Ron Hunt asked the first teenage boy to describe what took place on the night in question, what happened after
that night, and how he felt at this time. In a hushed room, where one could hear a pin drop, the young boy told
of how he and his two friends where driving down the main street of Renfrew. It was Halloween night, dark
and late. They noticed two young girls walking on the sidewalk. The driver slowed the car to a crawl. As they
approached the two young girls, one of the boys rolled down the car window, reached out and grabbed the girl’s
bag of candy. After grabbing what he thought to be a bag of candy but was her sweater, the driver of the car
sped up. The young girl was dragged down the street, terrified. The boy’s grip on the sweater broke lose. The
speeding car left the girl lying on the sidewalk. They had the bag of candy, which they opened in the parking
lot of the local high school. There they were apprehended by the police. In the quiet of the gymnasium, he told
of how he felt now.

The second teenage boy was asked to do the same thing, which he did. The third teenage boy was asked to do
the same thing. He described what happened with tears rolling down his cheek. Between sobs, he spoke of
how he felt, that it was intended as a prank, a joke but that it was not a joke. Next, Ron asked each parent of the
three boys to tell the people sitting in the circle how they felt. The parents spoke words of defense. They spoke
words expressing disappointment, disappointment in the behavior of their sons. They spoke words of apology.
Then Ron asked the high school principal of the three boys and the physical education teacher to speak. The
principal spoke of their academic achievements, their contributions in school life. The teacher spoke of their
participation in cross-country, their participation in basketball.

Following this, Ron asked the teenage girl who had been dragged down the street to describe what happened
that night and how she felt now. With every ear in the room attentive, she described what had happened, what
had happened afterward, how she felt now. She described weeks of sleepless nights, nightmares that followed
the event. She said that today, she is gripped with fear as she walks down a dark street in Renfrew. The second
teenage girl told her story. She spoke of her fear walking alone at nighttime. She fears every stranger that
walks past her on the streets. She said that every stranger has become a monster.

Ron asked the parents of each girl to tell how they felt. They spoke words of anger: angry that these teenage
boys had taken away their daughter’s sense of safety, sense of security! They were angry that their daughters
no longer felt safe in their own town! They spoke word of wonder, puzzlement, asking, ―How could you do
such a thing?‖

I sat there observing, thinking. The three teenage boys had to speak out loud what they had done - a hard thing
to do. They had to hear how it effected their love ones - their parents. They heard, face to face, how their acts
had hurt the girls - not an easy thing to hear. The two girls heard that the boys meant it as a prank. They heard
sobbing. They heard words of apology. They heard from the boys’ principal, their coach; hearing that they
were good students, active participants in the life of their high school. They learned that the monsters created in
their minds were in fact human; teenagers who had made a terrible mistake.

Following this, Ron instructed the people in the circle that together they were to negotiate the punishment for
the three boys. The negotiations, which went back and forth, resulted in: one, the boys were to reimburse the
young girl for her sweater; two, they were to participate with a traveling production called R.I.S.K. (This
production was traveling to the local high schools. It taught students to analyze the risk involved with each
decision. They goal was to help students make good choices. The boys were to tell their story as part of the
production); and three, the boys were to volunteer a number of hours to help the intramural sports program at
their high school. After the boys signed the agreement, all were invited to enjoy the provided refreshments.

Things had changed. All the participants walked to the table where the coffee was perking, where cans of Coke
and cookies were waiting! Parents of the three boys mingled with the parents of the two young girls! The three
teenage boys approached, personally apologized, talked with, even laughed with the two young girls!
Reconciliation had taken place! Healing was taking place! A community was active in resolving its own
problems. It was good to be part of this.

Our thanks to Pastor Fred VanderBerg from Westmount CRC in Strathroy, ON for sharing his experience.
Restorative Justice Week takes place November 17-24. Please visit for more on
Restorative Justice Week, including resources, and action ideas.
                                                  News Briefs
Progress in Reducing Hunger has Virtually Halted
ROME, 15 October 2002- Progress in reducing world hunger has virtually come to a halt, the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its annual report, ―The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002.‖ As
a result of hunger, millions of people, including six million children under the age of five, die each year.

FAO claims that unless trends are sharply reversed, the world will be very far from reaching the World Food
Summit 1996 goal, to reduce the number of hungry by half by 2015.
―We do not have the excuse that we cannot grow enough food or that we do not know enough about how to
eliminate hunger. What remains to be proven is that we care enough, that our expressions of concern in
international fora are more than rhetoric, that we will no longer accept and ignore the suffering of 840 million
hungry people or the daily death toll of 25,000 victims of hunger and poverty,‖ said FAO Director-General Dr.
Jacques Diouf.

You can access the report at .--Excerpted from Food and Agriculture Organization press release

Clean Diamond Bill Introduced in Canada
A ―clean diamond‖ bill, C-14, was introduced into Parliament earlier this month, much to the pleasure of anti-
conflict diamond activists.

The new legislation will work to ensure that Canadian diamonds (those mined in Canada, but sorted and cut
outside of the country) are protected from the taint of war, and that non-Canadian diamonds coming into the
country are also ―clean.‖

According to Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada, the legislation is ―a major breakthrough.‖ He cautions,
however, that the fight against conflict diamonds is not yet over. ―The legislation will depend on the creation of
an auditable chain of warranties within the diamond industry, and this has not yet been developed…Such
systems are necessary to ensure that diamonds can no longer be used to fuel conflict and war in Africa.‖

To learn more about conflict diamonds, visit the Sierra Leone section of, or Partnership
Africa Canada at

Sierra Leone--$42 Million Earmarked for Recovery Plan
The World Bank has set aside US $42 million for a poverty reduction and development project in Sierra Leone,
where a ten-year civil war ended in January. According the UN’s 2002 Human Development Index, Sierra
Leone ranks last, meaning that it is the least developed country in the world.

The money will be used primarily for health and education projects, as well as on water and sanitation,
agriculture, fishing, forestry, roads and highways.

The CRC has had a long history in Sierra Leone. Read about it at under Sierra Leone.

Jubilee September Mobilization
Thousands came to Washington, D.C. at the end of September to stage protests during the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund meetings. Jubilee USA, an organization that works towards dropping international
debt, hosted several peaceful events that weekend, including teach-ins and plenaries featuring guests from the
developing world who spoke about debt, globalization, trade, the environment, and the AIDS crisis. Jubliee
also hosted an Interfaith prayer service, and joined in a debt/AIDS march and global justice rally. To learn
more about the work of Jubilee USA, globalization, or debt, visit

Sing! A New Creation Workshop Kicks off in Illinois
What do justice and worship have to do with one another? How can we best integrate worship and justice?
About 50 people gathered together at Peace Church in South Holland, IL to be introduced to the new songbook,
Sing! A New Creation and to explore these questions. Those who attended were from several different churches
and denominations and brought both questions and ideas to the event. In addition to two worship services
introducing new songs and exploring prayers for justice, there were three break out sessions: one dealing with
congregational change, one specifically dealing with integrating worship and justice, and one introducing the
new songbook. Participants sang together of God’s justice, learned about changes in worship and patient,
adaptive leadership, and developed prayers of lament, confession, intercession and praise around issues of
A particular emphasis through the event was on prayer as a place where worship and the struggle for justice
meet. In sung and spoken prayers of praise, thanksgiving, lament, confession and intercession, God reminded
us of the vision for a just world that is presented in scripture. We explored ways God’s vision for justice can be
communicated through the mechanics, style, form and deep meaning of worship. Sing! A New Creation has
many songs and spoken prayers that include God’s vision for justice, and participants also received sample
resources from A Wee Worship Book, the Book of Common Worship, and Living Micah’s Call for the different
sections of a worship service. Musicians and others from different denominations discussed how best to
communicate God’s vision for justice in our culture with its clutter of words and images and the importance of
meaningful words and music. We left with new questions and ideas for our congregations as well as new songs
to sing on the way home. –Elizabeth Vander Haagen

CCG Works to Speak with Parliament on Reproductive Technologies
The Committee for Contact with the Government (CCG) has been working to speak with Members of
Parliament about reproductive technologies legislation. The legislation deals with the complex issues regarding
stem-cell research. CCG is encouraging government to carefully reflect on the ethics of life and health as it
considers this important legislation. Please pray that the CCG’s voice will be heard in Parliament. Visit or call Mike Hogeterp at 1-800-730-3490 for more information and action ideas.
                                          Websites and Resources
The US Census Bureau released its report on poverty last month, covering the year of 2001. According to the
report, national poverty is on the rise—11.7% of the population struggle to get by. You can access this report
by visiting .

Refugee Resettlement: An International Handbook to Guide Reception and Integration has been released by the
UNHCR and the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture. The handbook, aimed at refugee program
planners, addresses issues such as preparing communities to receive refugees, language training, education, and
employment. Access the handbook by clicking here.

30 Years of Alternatives: Alternatives for Simple Living has been promoting social justice for thirty years. Now
the bulk of its educational work is available on one CD. A new collection—―Simply the Best: 30 Years of
Alternatives‖—shares the joy of simpler living, the urgency and practicality of sustainability, and the need for
social justice. It encourages and equips individuals to live more simply for their own happiness and for the
health of Earth and all its creatures. Check it out at:

World AIDS Day Materials: Sunday, December 1 is World AIDS Day. This is a day set aside by churches and
governments around the world to bring a message of compassion, hope, solidarity, and understanding about
AIDS to people everywhere. As the Church of Christ, we have a very special role to play in the fight against
AIDS. Even as you read this, millions of people around the world – most of whom live in developing countries
– are struggling with this disease. The church has a responsibility to reach out in love and care to these hurting
people, and to advocate for better education and prevention. Materials to help your church prepare for World
AIDS Day - including sermon suggestions, a bulletin insert, and an advent-themed litany - are available upon
request. Additional educational materials about HIV/AIDS in Africa are also available, and can be used at any
time throughout the year. Please contact Sandra Elgersma (Canada) at 1-800-730-3490, or
Tracy Young (US) at 1-800-272-5125 for more information.

We Have AIDS: We Have AIDS is a joint educational and advocacy campaign from the Office of Social Justice
and Hunger Action and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. The October issue of the We Have
AIDS newsletter is currently online at This month’s issue explores how AIDS impacts the
marketplace/workforce in Africa.
                                     The Advocate Calendar
World Hunger Sunday takes place on November 3.

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church takes place on November 10. Please visit for information and resources to prepare for this day.

Kairos Regional Meeting, November 16-17, Great Lakes/St. Laurence region: Come to this last Kairos
regional networking event. Information on this justice meeting, including who to contact and where to go, can
be found on Meet together with folks who share your vision for strengthening regional
ecumenical justice networks!

Restorative Justice Week is November 17-24. Information and resources on restorative justice and examples
of how restorative justice is healing the wounds of victims, perpetrators, and communities will be posted to soon.

Benefit Concert for INNOCENT!, Friday, November 22, 7:30 p.m., Reformed Bible College, Grand
Rapids, MI: Come hear some beautiful music sung by the Reformed Bible College choir, directed by Asonja
James. Offerings will be taken for a missionary couple supported by the school and for INNOCENT!, a non-
profit organization that assists and encourages families and friends of the wrongly convicted. INNOCENT! was
organized by CRC member Doug Tjapkes and his friend Maurice Carter. You can read about their amazing
story in past Advocate issue: or by visiting
INNOCENT’s website:

National Housing Strategy Day, November 22, 2002: The 3rd National Housing Strategy Day will see events
and proclamations across the country calling for government support of affordable housing, a keystone in
eliminating poverty for children, for families, for everyone. Families need homes, not shelters - and those of us
with homes want a compassionate society where we don't condemn those without to mattresses on floors in a
different church every night, or cramped rooms in cheap highway hotels. Citizens for Public Justice staff will be
involved in this day that calls for action and we urge you to do the same. Click here for more info.

Sing! A New Creation Ontario Workshops, November 22 and 23. Come to Sing! and explore the
relationship between music and ministry, especially issues of justice, and enjoy learning new songs in many
different styles from around the world. Check out the news brief above for more detailed information.
-Friday, November 22, 7-9:45 p.m. at Willowdale CRC in Toronto. Contact Laurens Kaldeway at
(416) 221-7829 or
-Saturday, November 23, 9 a.m.-12p.m. at Mountainview CRC in Grimsby. Contact Rev. Jerry Hoitema at
(905) 945-004, or
Contact Information:

Editor: Peter Vander Meulen
Canadian Issues Editor: Sandra Elgersma
Managing Editor: Tracy Young
The Advocate is a publication of the Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action of the Christian Reformed Church in
North America
2850 Kalamazoo Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49560
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