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Disarmed

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What does it mean to be following a way of life that doesn’t make sense to the grim realpolitik of the world? Noted journalist Marshall King probes that agonizing question in his examination of the life of his friend MJ Sharp. Sharp was working as a field expert for the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when he and a fellow worker were assassinated in the field. King builds his description of Sharp’s death around careful research and broader historical context, bringing together Sharp’s radical Mennonite Christian faith and the history of colonialism and exploitation in the Congo. King’s winsome writing also paints a picture of Sharp’s unique personality: a brilliant scholar with an IQ of 160 who was bored in school; a pacifist worker who befriended soldiers and guerillas; and an Anabaptist devoted to communal simple living who invested in business start-ups and funded himself by playing a wicked game of poker. King’s global and intimate research is particularly impressive during an age of COVID, reaching UN officials and Sharp’s childhood friends. Sharp’s life, and his community’s after his death, shows us a particular picture of what it means to be a true follower of Christ, no matter what the cost. That powerful thread should pull all readers of this man’s life to find their own way to not just survive, but make the world thrive in our all-too-brief time here.
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Disarmed
The Radical Life and Legacy of Michael "MJ" Sharp
by Marshall V. King
Pub Date 11 Jan 2022 
 Herald Press 
 Biographies & Memoirs  |  Christian  |  Politics 


I  am reviewing a copy of Disarmed: The Radical Life and Legacy of Michael “MJ” Sharp  through Herald Press and Netgalley:



Michael “MJ” Sharp was working for the United Nations Group of Experts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—urging rebels to lay down their weapons—when he was murdered at only 34 years old.  He was most likely assassinated alongside his colleague Zaida Catalán by those with government ties. This compelling account of MJ’s life, death, and legacy from longtime journalist Marshall V. King explores what compelled Sharp to travel the world working for peace and the ongoing impact of his life and death in the ongoing story of Christian peacemaking in a war-torn world.





MJ was a modern Mennonite, who armed himself with wit and intellect, rather than a gun.  He was the son of a Mennonite Pastor and from a young age, he showed a gift for listening as well as for persuading.  His efforts to approach others with acknowledgement rather than judgement gave him the ability to connect on a level very few managed. He also honed a deep commitment to peace, and after college he joined the Mennonite Mission Network and moved to Germany, where he persuaded soldiers to choose peace and free them of their violent systems.



I give Disarmed: The Radical Life and Legacy of Michael "MJ" Sharp five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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King’s journalistic skills in interviewing shine in this debut publication about the inspiring life and work of MJ Sharp as a radical peacemaker. The chorus of voices help the reader better understand MJ’s talents, passions and struggles. King also provides cultural context and educates the reader, in surprising depth, about the geopolitical complexities of the United Nations' work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This biography will certainly be required reading for future peace/justice studies curriculum!
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It's an incredible book. My admiration for MJ Sharp has deepened in the course of learning much more about his motivations, his personality, his rich friendships, his struggles, his continual courage. 

King does a superb job of educating the reader about the complexities of peacebuilding efforts in the DRC and why Sharp and Catalan were so committed to (and skilled at) this work as United Nations Group of Experts members. 

King's journalistic background make the book even stronger. He tells MJ's story with love, humor, and honesty and he uncovers revealing insights from Sharp's colleagues, friends, etc.
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