There was no rest for the weary on our first full day in Rwanda. And after a ten hour flight from Amsterdam yesterday we were, indeed, weary. The view from our guest house may have compensated somewhat for the early start to my day. I’ll let you decide. This is where I spent my morning devotions and journaling. It’s possible I even did some birdwatching.
After morning worship at Africa New Life Church, which was very lively, we had lunch at the (famous to some) restaurant Heaven. It is possible that my husband is quite jealous I have eaten there and he has not. . . We spent two hours at lunch, and were joined by one of Africa New Life Ministries’ founders. He gave us an overview of the ministry and answered our many questions. It was our crash course in Rwanda, the good and the difficult in this constantly developing country.
We then made our way to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It is simultaneously a horrible and beautiful place. We saw many photographs and videos of that horrible time and read a lot of history but two things are burned into my mind.
First, is a photograph of children taken in a church where they had sought refuge from the génocidaires. In the photo there are maybe a dozen children, none older than ten or twelve. All look scared and somber, their sad eyes drilling into mine. But one boy in the middle of the church is smiling broadly as though this photo was just one of many happy photos taken of young children. I cannot forget his face. I know he died soon after that moment.
Second, was after we had gone outside and walked along the tomb which holds the remains of 250,000 Rwandans. At the end of the tomb there is a wall of names. The names of those killed. As I read those names I found a familiar name. It was not a person I knew. But it is the same name as a person I love in Boise. A young person. Who is Rwandan. A person I love so much. I could spend not one more minute in that place, and I could not stop thinking about the person I love whose name is on that wall. I wanted to be alone and cry for a very, very long time. And I wanted to be home holding baby David, whose dimpled smile would cure the most wounded of hearts.
Looking into the face of evil is hard. There is nothing easy in it. But someone must do it or how else do we stop evil from repeating itself?
Sometimes, when life is difficult (and mine is not often difficult!), I think of one of my dear friends from Rwanda. I think of her and her courage, and I think I’ve never met anyone braver than she is. And I carry on. Because I can. Because, "God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). And with that power and in letting go of fear and with a strong mind, I can change the world. I can change my world.
Let us keep staring down evil and replacing it with good. With justice. With help for the needy and fatherless. Let’s stare it down while upholding the rights of the oppressed and destitute. Let’s stare it down while rescuing the poor and needy.
Because you can change the world. Your world.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Provide justice to the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy. Psalm 82:3-4
And I am not afraid.
Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 4