I have been to Rwanda.
I have stood before the tombs of over a quarter a million dead.
I have wept at the grave of a nation of unparalleled beauty and suffering.
Been afflicted by her great faith.
Cajoled by her smiles.
I have listened to the story of a woman spared, with her three children, from mutilation and murder by the pleading of her seven-year-old son to the leader of a genocidal militia gang. She has dedicated the remainder of her life to deliver children from their torturous memories and trauma.
I have sat and talked with an old man in a crumbling mud hut - his home since birth - and heard him say that he is no longer concerned by death because he knows that his granddaughter will not be alone when he’s gone. She is loved
I have walked hand-in-hand with a twelve-year-old orphan girl who knows that soon she will be without her aging grandfather and soul caregiver. She has hope for the future and knows that Jesus loves her.
I have been held by a woman whose unfaithful husband, before he died, gave her the same virus that took his life. She praises God for each new day she is given to care for her four children and the extra four she has taken into her home and heart.
I have danced with a child whose shining face proclaims a peace and joy well beyond my own. She declares that she loves me and will pray for me.
I have been taught by a man who showed respect by never looking into my eyes. “Pray faithfully and without ceasing!”
I have conversed with a teenaged boy who would rather share his excitement to preach Jesus everywhere than take part in a soccer match with his friends.
I have been invited into the home of six orphaned children and their new ‘mama’ - a woman of indescribable grace and beauty and a healing victim of equally indescribable abuse. They make no mention of the material assistance they have been given, but are humbly and eternally grateful for family and community.
I have shared a drink with a new brother. His life has taught him that greater faith in God grows in the garden of suffering.
I have sung with two hundred clean brown faces with shiny white smiles and closely cropped hair. They have gifted me with more than I could ever give to them.
I have hobbled through a new nation: born out of chaos and blood and death into hope and forgiveness, into love (even for an enemy), into an understanding of what it means to ‘turn the other cheek’, of being ‘like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field’, that ‘a kernel of wheat must first fall to the ground and die.’
I have been shown that the call to new life in Jesus is also an invitation to share in His suffering and death.
I have fallen in love with a hopeful, gracious and generous people that have gladly shared the pieces of God that only they have carried in their chests.
Thank you Rwanda.