Michael Sharp

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Sharp, Michael Jesse

Michael Jesse Sharp, 34, of Albuquerque NM died MJ died as he lived: fully engaged.

He died on or about March 15, 2017, near Muswila in the Kasai Central Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He was abducted March 12 and killed by unnamed assailants while investigating a new outbreak of violence, as Armed Group Expert and Coordinator of the United Nations Group of Experts on the DR Congo. Their bodies were found by UN peacekeepers on March 27 and identities were confirmed March 28.

Michael J. "M.J." was born October 29, 1982, to John E. and Michele Miller Sharp in Elkhart IN. He is survived by his parents John E. and Michele Miller Sharp of Hesston KS; two sisters: Erin Sharp and her husband Alex Levene and two children, Oscar and Lucy of Denver CO, and Laura and her husband Nick Enzinna Sharp and son Jesse of North Newton KS. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather Mahlon D. Miller of Goshen IN, paternal grandparents Jesse and Amelia (Peachey) Sharp of Belleville, PA, an uncle Roy R. Sharp of Casa Grande AZ, and an aunt, Sally Sharp Mullet of Sarasota FL.

M.J. lived in Harleysville, PA, 1983-1989, Scottdale PA, 1989-1995, and Middlebury and Goshen IN, 1995-2001. He graduated from Bethany Christian High School in 2001, and attended Eastern Mennonite University, where in 2005 he earned a BA in history and a minor in German. After graduating from EMU, Sharp worked for three years with the Military Counseling Network in Germany, a project of the German Mennonite Peace Committee to serve U.S. soldiers based in Europe who sought discharge from military service for conscientious objection or other reasons. In 2010 he earned a MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany.

From 2012 to 2015, Sharp was Eastern Congo Coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee in the DRC. Here he worked with such agencies as the Program for Peace and Reconciliation of the Congolese Protestant Council of Churches and Friends' Peace House of the Evangelical Friends Church in Rwanda,to send peacebuilders into the forest unarmed to persuade rebels to release child soldiers, disarm, and repatriate. From 2015 to 2017, he was an Armed Group Expert on the United Nations Group of Experts. He was also appointed Coordinator for the Group of Experts in 2016 & was serving in these capacities when he, his UN colleague Zaida Catalan & 4 Congolese men were seized while investigating recent atrocities & possible human rights violations in Kasai Central Province in the DRC. Catalan was also killed.

A memorial service was held at 4:00, April 15, 2017 at Hesston Mennonite Church, Hesston KS.

Memorial gifts may be made to "MCC Congo Peace," Mennonite Central Committee, 21 South 12th Street, PO Box 500, Akron PA 17501-0500.

Published in Albuquerque Journal on May 21, 2017