Memorial service held for UN worker with Hesston ties


HESSTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Friends, family members and world leaders remembered the life of Michael “MJ” Sharp, the United Nations worker killed in the Congo while working to resolve conflict, in a service on Saturday.

Sharp was working with several others including an interpreter in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in March when the group went missing. Sharp’s body was found in a shallow grave in late March outside Congo’s Kasaï-Central province.

According to Sharp’s father, John Sharp, only two of the missing bodies were found. The interpreter’s body was not found and the search continues for the four Congolese men who went missing.

Sharp left a legacy of love, wit and humor, evident by the speakers at his memorial service. He was a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer and United Nations contract employee.

“Michael’s journey with us made a difference. He left an indelible mark and will be remembered,” Dr. Moussa Ba, ‎Chief Critical Incident Stress Management Unit at United Nations, said.

Some recalled his knack for merely sitting beneath a banana tree, talking to rebel soldiers; getting through to them in ways others couldn’t. It’s been reported that the team Sharp was a part of talked 1,600 rebel soldiers into going home.

“He had a true love for people, everyone that he met. And a true honest way of listening,” pastor Clayton Gladish with Hesston Mennonite Church said.

John Sharp is a professor at Hesston College. He thanked his fellow employees as well as his students for the compassion they’ve shown over the last month as the family deals with the grief in their son’s violent death.

Family plans to scatter MJ’s ashes in several places, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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