Today marks the 15th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide. In the worse act of genocide, close to 1,000,000 people lost their lives in 100 days not with guns or gas chambers, but at the hands of their neighbors, friends, and family. To me the genocide speaks to the evil that each person is capable of. And as we mourn the lives lost through the bloodshed, we must remember the world’s silence, the inaction of the global community as Tutsis and UN peacekeepers in country cried out for help and intervention.
In the last fifteen years as tens of thousands of Hutus have sat in prison for the role they played, and the Tutsis left behind have tried to gain back some of what was taken, there is something incredible happening that deserves our praise. It’s the forgiveness and reconciliation efforts that are taking place. Through ministries like Prison Fellowship, that are going into the prisons and preaching forgiveness to the Hutus, most of whom have been racked by guilt and demons most people cannot image, and bringing them release from their regret and remorse. Or local ministries that have trained up reconciliation counselors who have gone back to their communities to bring Tutsi survivors and the Hutu’s who murdered their families face to face in hopes of forgiveness. Or the Brick by Brick initiative that is rebuilding communities and works hand in hand with the reconciliation efforts by helping to rebuild trust as it rebuilds homes.
Forgiveness cannot be done in a court of law or without release and healing on both sides. And true, lasting forgiveness cannot be had without Jesus and the power of the cross.
And, one more thing, as the country forgives and heals people begin to see each other not as Hutus and Tutsis, murders and victims, but as Rwandans – and that is a change of heart only God’s mighty love can bring so soon after the tragedy.
Please join with me in praying for the reconciliation efforts and for those still dealing with the pain of the genocide.
(if you are interested in the reconciliation work, two great resources are the As We Forgive movie (http://www.asweforgivemovie.com/) as the book that accompanies it with the same name (http://www.asweforgivebook.com/)).