Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Deep Respect for Rwanda

Many of you may (or may not) know of the tragic genocidal killings that ripped through Rwanda in 1994. In 100 days, more than 1,000,000 people were murdered. Shocking. One of the first things we will do in Rwanda is visit the genocide memorial. We can’t truly minister to a group of people if we don’t know where they’ve come from and what they’ve been through. The forgiveness that has taken place across the entire nation, in order to bring restoration, is truly amazing. Such a beautiful example of the forgiveness we have in Christ.

On our first night in Rwanda, we'll have dinner with a Rwandan friend of some teammates who was orphaned as a teenager during the genocide. He has now started an orphanage with others who were also orphaned during the genocide, to minister and provide hope for children. I am humbled at the opportunity to hear his story. As I’ve read more about this tragic time in Rwanda’s history, I was hit with the reality of this sobering fact: anyone that I meet who is my age will have lived through this terrible tragedy as a young teenager. While I was living a carefree teenaged life of a highschooler in America, they were witnessing their families being murdered by trusted friends and neighbors. And now they have offered forgiveness to those who murdered their loved ones. Wow. What a newfound respect and admiration I have for the people of Rwanda.

A book that shares just one person's story is Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocuast by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Though I don't agree with all the theological aspects of the book, it shares the reality of that terrible time and the amazing grace of God to be able to forgive.

I'm realizing as I learn more about the people, places, and ministries that we'll be serving, that there are so many layers to this trip. And my heart is already starting to feel a bit wrecked (in a good and challanging way). I am also being reminded of the great and powerful importance of prayer as the Lord prepares my heart for what's to come and prepares the way for our team to minister in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

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