16 October, 2009

What I've Seen...

There are two songs about Rwanda that ring in my ears incessantly.

The first is I Saw What I Saw by Sara Groves (easily one of my favorite artists in the world!).

It is hard to articulate the feeling that is Rwanda. It is a hard place, yes, there is poverty and
struggle and scars and a nation struggling to define itself and move ahead. But there is a lot of hope here. There is a sense that something good is happening and good things are coming. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination - I think people tend to either idealize Rwanda or live in fear of it. I've heard comments go both ways, and you read commentaries and it's like they forget that Rwanda is like any other country and while there is a lot of good, there is a lot of pain. No country (no person) is all good or bad, but one and the other and we stop focusing on one just to focus on the other we loose sight of something vital.

All that to say - you take the good with the bad. You hear the story of evil that is unimaginable and then see the forgiveness. You stop distinguishing and see what connects. I love the line, "Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of, and what I know of love, and what I know of God." You can look at Rwanda and see the brokenness and the healing. They are not super human, they've been humbled and walking back from pain - of any kind - leads you to either release or harboring, to anger or forgiveness, to face it or deny it. And I guess, Groves' song points to the fact that Rwanda has chosen (mostly so) to turn to forgiveness, acknowledgment, and healing.

Albertine is written by Brooke Fraser. We are a testimony to what we know. I believe in the power of the story to inspire, to change, to impact and to educate. But once you know you have to respond. You cannot be ignorant anymore. And I often wonder what would have happened if any of the people who knew about the genocide - which started years and years and years before that fateful April day the president's plane went down -spoke out. Or, if people who heard wouldn't look at it with pity and "well that's Africa" and instead said that any death is wrong. We read biographies and are impacted, we read someone's testimony and are moved.

There are millions and millions and millions of people hurting. There is injustice everywhere. And we cannot stop it all, it will always exist. But you have to care about other people. So pick an injustice and stand against it. I love truth in the Catalyst video - we are the church and we have an imperative to stand against injustice. We are the answer. It's not up to God to move alone, He left behind the church and called us to be His response.

Focus on one. Focus on one survivor in Rwanda, one child through Compassion, one girl in India, one abandoned child in DC, one struggling single mom next door. It's not about changing the world, it's about meeting one person in the trenches, building a relationship with them, and changing the life for one person. It's not some twisted, self-centered superhero complex, but humility and relationship and realizing as you pour into them they pour into you.

"Now that I have seen, I am responsible, faith without deeds dead. Now that I have held you in my own arms I cannot let go till you are..."

We might never get to meet the girls in Cambodia who cry out, or the woman in Afghanistan living under vile oppression, or know the name of homeless man in the park, but we can focus on their humanity, their individuality, their dignity. We can realize that we all have a story, we all have wounds, we all want to live in freedom and grace and with enough.

"I will tell them Albertine, I will tell them Albertine."