Remembering Michael "MJ" Sharp

Mar 30, 2017

Michael Sharp visited Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, home to displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during his time in the country. When he was killed, he was part of a U.N. mission.
Credit Jana Asenbrennerova/Courtesy of MCC

On Monday, the bodies of United Nations worker and Eastern Mennonite University graduate Michael Sharp, a Swedish colleague and their Congolese interpreter were found two weeks after they and their Congolese motorbike drivers went missing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. News of Sharp’s disappearance and death has stirred memories of his antics and mischievous ways, as WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.

Harrisonburg resident Traci Stoltzfus knew Michael Sharp, known to his friends then as “MJ,” in middle and high school, and again in college. She remembers his antics.

TRACI STOLTZFUS: He was a jokester, a prankster, and yet he was really, really bright and intelligent. His intelligence made school a little too boring for him. That led him to all his prankster ways.

In their junior year of high school in Indiana, for example, he reconfigured the school’s bell system.

STOLTZFUS: The bells that were telling us when to go to and from class were going at all the wrong times, and it ended up being quite hilarious and quite a nightmare for our school administration. They could not figure out exactly what rewiring he had done, and it continued to be a problem for days, that these bells were just going at random times and they meant absolutely nothing for what people should be doing.

Stories like these and other memories of Sharp are circulating on social media, as was the hope that his disappearance would end differently than it did.

STOLTZFUS: He could just talk his way in and out of anything. There was a group of us that hoped that maybe that MJ magic would work its way in this situation, too.

That hope gone, what remains for Stoltzfus is a feeling of admiration.

STOLTZFUS: He was willing to stand up in the face of injustice. I just have tremendous, tremendous respect for him.