It’s been ten years, nearly eleven since the most profound loss of my life occurred: my dad died of cancer. Not a day in my life has gone by that has not been changed by the hours of the six month and two days that led to that final breath he drew.
It’s been twenty years exactly since the Hutu tribe used their machete blades to gruesomely murder nearly ONE MILLION men, women, and children of the neighboring Tutsi tribe in Rwanda.
I remember the images that flashed across the television screen every night in the den of our Western North Carolina home as my parents faithfully watched the news, shushing my sister and me since they didn’t repeat the news in those days. I heard the buzz of the Tutsi and Hutu names along with their motherland, Rwanda. I saw the blood bathed people, running, sobbing, and screaming. I was in the third grade. It was all so confusing to me. I didn’t know what it was that was happening. But I knew it was bad and that it was in a far away land.
I still don’t fully comprehend what happened. I read about the merciless raping, hacking of sacred life by machetes, and rampant spread of HIV. Yet, my brain cannot fathom it all. Especially that it would happen in the days of modern society. All that I know is that the unspeakable crimes committed in that period of genocide have changed every life of that land, every day since the 100 day siege occurred in that year of horrific ethnic cleansing.
The only way that I can relate to what the citizens of Rwanda have gone through is through the pain I have experienced ten years ago. For them, though, the scars are not just of the heart like mine are, but also of the body. Still, the bond that I feel with these people is through suffering. And there is fellowship in that. Greater still, the bells of death that have tolled for the faces of this land ring not just for them, but for me, because they are my fellows in humanity.
I’m doing my best to write the book that God has called me to write about what He taught me through my loss, in hopes to encourage others. So far, it’s been a tedious process that has poked and prodded a lot of deep wounds. Yet, it’s been so cathartic to put it all on paper. Doing so has caused me to reflect upon the beautiful hand of God through the tears in my life. What I have seen most clearly ten years past the day of tragedy in my life is His faithfulness to bring beauty out of ashes.
God is raising the people of Rwanda out of the ashes even twenty years later. Christ’s resurrection from the grave just does stuff like that. It is that powerful. He is transforming their sorrows into stories of beautiful restoration. He is giving the people of that land a new name.
The pain is still prevalent in Rwanda. The days and the lives are still greatly defined by the 100-day siege of 1994. But those very days and lives are being refined through the power of God and the work of His people.
I’m honored to share with you about some of the initiatives that WorldHelp is putting forth to minister to the beautiful people of this land presently. As a person who has gone through profound loss, I can attest to the fact that once time moves forward, forgetfulness of those surrounding often sets in. It’s been twenty years for the people of Rwanda since their profound loss struck. For most of the world, life has moved on. The news is now full of other stories each night. But the impact of the pain remains. That’s why I’m eager to tell you that WorldHelp remembers the people of this land and to let you know that there are many ways you can help them.
- You can PRAY for continued healing and for a Rwanda that is more united in hope than ever before.
- You can SHARE about “Rebuilding Rwanda” through your online networks like FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- You can GIVE to support sustainable projects in communities still recovering from genocide. These include things like: Child Sponsorship, Programs to Empower Women, Clean Water Wells, Helping Families Through Gifts of Livestock, The Hope Village, and New Schools.
I am proud to say that my Alma Mater, Liberty University, even had a student led initiative a couple years ago called Restore Rwanda that helped build a new school in the Hope Village after a 10 day mission trip by Psychology and Counseling students who helped counsel both victims and perpetrators, still reeling from the impact of the genocide.
I couldn’t agree with what Campus Pastor, Johnnie Moore said about that initiative back in 2011, “We wanted to have a viral campaign across the Internet with our friends and our family that started from here in Lynchburg, Va., that would change the destiny of some kids in Rwanda whose fathers and families were affected by this tragic event.”
Vernon Brewer, Founder of World Vision put it so well when he said, “Rwanda is literally a nation of survivors, comprised of the millions who have been orphaned, widowed, or simply left behind. It’s a place in desperate need of forgiveness, restoration, and hope—a place that feels the sting of having been forgotten by the rest of the world in their greatest time of need.”
So here we are, the body of Christ. We are told that faith without works is dead in James 2. What are we going to DO for these people marked by such immense pain and sorrow?
Me? I’m going to use my voice today to rally whatever citizens of world are in earshot to help bring restoration, dignity, and transformation to the people of Rwanda through the life-breathing power of Jesus Christ.
In the words of John Donne, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”