Touched by Compassion

In this day and age, what's the quickest way to reach millions of people with a message? Put it on television. And the most effective way to get your point across? Tell a story. If you turn on the TV this Sunday, you'll find one of the most important stories of our time dramatized on the top-rated program, "Touched By An Angel." It's the story of how our brothers and sisters in Christ are being persecuted in Sudan, and the storyteller is Martha Williamson, executive producer for the program. Williamson got the idea for the segment after watching a news program that exposed the slavery and genocide taking place in Sudan. The faces of those suffering people haunted Williamson, and she began researching the issue. She contacted the offices of Senator Sam Brownback and Congressman Donald Paine, both experts on Sudan. She even took the trouble of attending a meeting in Washington, where she learned that a civil war has been raging in Sudan for some 15 years. A war that has taken the lives of some two million people. A war that has displaced another 4 million people, creating the largest refugee population in the world. And yet, few people seem to know or care. Williamson knew she was in a unique position: As the executive producer of one of the most popular programs on television, she could educate millions of viewers about the tremendous suffering of Sudanese Christians. She came up with a story line about a fictional senator named Kate Cooper whose young son, digging through her briefcase, discovers the shocking details of Sudanese slavery—of mothers and children who are kidnapped and sold to Muslim masters. He begs his mother to help, and the senator wants to get involved—but she knows if she does, it will jeopardize her chances of getting re-elected. Will she put her own needs first—or those of the suffering Church? For the roles of slaves, Williamson cast some 60 real-life Sudanese people who escaped from slavery themselves. Many of them wept during the filming, recalling not just the horrors of slavery, but of loved ones who are still in Sudan, being tortured, raped, and killed for their faith. It's a deeply affecting episode, and I hope you'll watch it. And then I hope you'll do something else. I hope you will call your senators and representatives and ask them, "What are YOU doing to bring an end to slavery and genocide in Sudan, the bombing of Christian civilians, the forced conversions, and the government-manufactured famine against them?" Ask them to support the Sudan Peace Act, which has been introduced in both houses. And then call the White House, and ask why the president won't even speak out to stop the slaughter. Remember, it will take more than a television drama to end the suffering. It will take millions of telephone calls and letters. Our object must be nothing less than putting an end to this evil regime. So even if you don't normally watch "Touched By An Angel," please gather your friends together and watch it this Sunday. And then, get busy. [The number for the capitol hill switchboard is 202.224.3121. To contact the White House Opinion Line, call 202.456.1111]


Chuck Colson


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