“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Without a doubt, it’s easy to say that through these two trips to Rwanda, I learned A LOT! I learned so much about God, how simple and amazing He works and uses us, I learned a ton about myself, but I also learned even more from each person of Rwanda I met there. I thought going on a mission trip to Rwanda, I was going to serve them bless them. Turned out, I was extremely blessed and served by each person I met! Just spending time with them, talking with them, seeing how they carried themselves, what an amazing example they were to learn from!
The biggest lesson I had the privilege of learning from them was forgiveness. After conversations lately with different people about this subject it brought up this lesson I learned there in Rwanda to the surface. I know earlier in the week I mentioned the genocide that happened there and sent a little educational video to better explain it. I’m going to post that vide below again for you and dig a little deeper into it here. I went the whole two weeks of my first trip serving these people, being served by them with their examples of faith, joy, and humility but I had no idea what they had been through.
On the last day of each trip the first timers are taken to the Rwanda Genocide memorial museum. It’s a time to learn more deeply about the events that unfolded there not that long ago. I had heard a little bit here and there about it but I had no idea of the pure evil that took place. The nation diving into two sides with one side hunting down the other side in groups, calling them less of people because of race and social class. One side, led by the president at that time, started a revolt to kill all of these people who lived in the same country. With machetes, guns and different weaponry they hunted down these people killing around 500,000 fellow Rwandans. Sexual abuse was practiced on the women, families died side by side, some made it out alive sometimes being children left with nobody.
It’s extremely hard to write this but you need to know the history. When I found out the extent of these events, I stood jaw dropped, amazed, and broken. So many questions raced through my head, “how could this kind of evil exist? How could nobody stop this? WHY???”
I don’t know the answers to those but after those moments in the museum, being completely broken from each picture, display, and video. There was a section about the children that were killed there. After holding back tears the whole walk through I lost it. It broke me to see these innocent, helpless lives taken so soon in this way.
One word that came up in my head after seeing all of this and learning more about how brutal these events were, was WOW! I had just spent two weeks with these people, around 20 years ago this took place but I would’ve have never guessed it if you hadn’t told me. They have such joy they carry with them. Even in the tough physical needs they face each day they have so much joy, peace and contentment. It didn’t make any sense but it was there I learned from there example.
I also wondered, how could these two sides still coexist and live together in such community, and love? There was a program set up after the genocide ended. With the number of people guilty of committing the crime of murder, there was no way they could provide the prison time they deserved. But they set up a program built on peace and forgiveness that helped their situation in more ways than one!
After serving a short sentence the people who were convicted as murderers and committing so many terrible crimes had to go to the families of the person they had killed, write letters or most went face to face and asked forgiveness for their actions. They went to people who’s families they had just killed, and displayed their wrong, offered to serve them in whatever way they could and most of all ask forgiveness. It would be extremely difficult for me to forgive someone who had taken a loved one of mine but what is so amazing, this program of reconciliation worked and is still working today!
Despite the pain, the hurt, and all of the tragic events of what had happened, they forgave. They put the past behind, forgave, and walked out an example that has brought so much peace, love and hope to the generations coming up now in Rwanda. I’m sure this forgiveness took some time, healing had to take place but what an amazing example that is to forgive someone for that level of wrong! The biggest part of their example in this is recognizing that forgiveness brings peace. The easy thing to do would have been just not ever forgiving these people for what they had done, being bitter and living the rest of their lives that way. But what good would that have done, to live in the past mistakes and events that took place. Nothing could change what happened but they realized that forgiveness would change the present and the days to come for the next generations of Rwandan men and women.
What’s cool is being there around 20 years later and seeing the strides forward these people have made as ONE people in ONE nation, living and working alongside each other despite their differences and memories. Forgiveness has brought reconciliation to families all over Rwanda and is giving the little boys and girls that grow up there a chance to never come close to seeing that kind of evil displayed again.
Their example of forgiveness, whether it was through Christian faith or not, it was a lot like the forgiveness God has given us.
““But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”
Think about that for a moment. All the times we’ve wronged and sinned against God in our lives. Why would He ever want to forgive people who have hurt Him in that way? But God showed how great His love for you and me is by sending Jesus to die for us, washing our sins clean, taking all the pain and death we deserved even tho we deserved it, God’s love was greater and the blood of Christ has given us forgiveness for every sin, past, present and future! We are saved from the life we should of had because of Christ took it all on Himself and gave us a life as ONE with Him, ONE as a church of believers, with ONE great love that He gives us to live in daily! So awesome how God loves us that much! So awesome that Christ has paid the price for us! SO AWESOME that we are considered and seen as right, accepted, and worthy in God’s sight. The past mistakes are gone and God has forgiven us, in His grace, just like the people of Rwanda we can move forward in this life with God, for the next generations to come will see and get the chance to experience God in this way too if we simply let go of the past, forgive others and ourselves and walk in the peace, joy and freedom that only God can give!
Short video on Rwanda Genocide: https://youtu.be/EWcKnp-e-ow?t=76