Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Rwanda: A Piece from My Journal

I am currently in Amsterdam waiting to board for Ireland. All is well, although it has been by far the worst airport experience of my life, involving a ripped bag and making a check-in lady cry (well, not me, the system). So much for a smooth transition back to into the Western world!

As for my time in Rwanda:

Being in Rwanda over Easter affected me differently than I expected. I expected it to be powerful the initial stages of the genocide occurred over Easter. In reality, it was powerful because more than ever before I began to truly understand the power and hope of the resurrection. As Jesus was dying on the Cross, evil seemingly prevailed. Yet, even so, it doesn’t. Jesus’ words of forgiveness in the midst of death reveal his power over Satan. And still the disciples were left hopeless. They had witnessed extreme evil being done to their Master. All the evil in the world was laid upon Jesus’ shoulders. He died with that weight and sin in a posture of love. And then he didn’t stay there. In hope and power he came back to live on this earth. He conquered that evil once and for all in the resurrection. He took the sting out of death. Satan has no power because, in the greatest act of love, Jesus died and came back to live in the name of reconciliation.

It is in the shadow of the Cross and resurrection that Rwanda stands today. On Good Friday and Saturday, we visited memorials of the genocide. I was staring the worst evil I had ever seen in the face. Horror. Pain. Savagery. Just plain evil. In those days I felt anger. Anger at sin. Anger at evil. Ander at the selfishness of America and the Western world. Ander at the selfishness and capacity for evil and hatred that I saw within my own heart. I saw a brokenness I have never seen before. I was left with a feeling of hopeless despair.

Then came Easter. I had the privilege of worshipping with hundreds of Rwandans, no longer identified as Hutus or Tutsis. I drove through the countryside to see the development of a once bloodstained land. I heard of a President who put peace and reconciliation of a nation above selfishness, power, and corruption (which is virtually unheard of in Africa). And in the greatest sense of forgiveness and reconciliation I have ever witnessed, I sat across from a perpetrator and a survivor. I sat across from John who was brutally murdered Chantale’s father. I sat across from Frances who had mercilessly murdered his best friend, Bridgette’s father. I saw a forgiveness, confession, and reconciliation process like none before. Frances has now taken the father role in Bridgette’s life. Chantale, who claims she died after the genocide and felt God had died as well, found life only in forgiving John. I saw the power of reconciliation for both parties. In Rwanda, I saw the evil that caused Jesus to be crucified and I saw the power and hope of reconciliation through the resurrection, on both a personal level and a national level. As I stood there holding hands with both Frances and Bridgette crying out to God altogether, I was confronted by my own hatred and anger and unforgiveness. And as I was forced to face the evil and sin within my own life, and I had to deal with it accordingly, by confessing to God and others and asking for forgiveness. And I finally understood hope like I never have before. My Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday full of discussion of reconciliation fill me with feelings of forgiveness, hope and power. Easter, which is the core and foundation of my faith, made more sense than ever before. Welll, maybe it didn’t make sense because the supernatural rarely makes sense, but it became far more real, far more powerful, far more personal. In the cross and resurrection of Christ, there is power. Joy. Freedom. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Love. Vulnerability. HOPE.

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