It’s been nearly five years since Brooke and I visited Rwanda in east central Africa. We were taken, primarily, to see the work of Compassion International first hand. Our time there in 2009 triggered significant, ongoing change for us. Looking back, I can see that the experiences and meetings of those ten short days (that felt so much longer) started a fire that continues to burn profoundly within us.
This week, Brooke and I worked together to make a music video for our song “Rwanda”. I started writing it at about 3am in our hotel room in Kigali (the capital of Rwanda) on our last morning there way back in 2009, but the emotion is still very fresh. The video will be shown at Experience Compassion conferences early in March, where I will be singing and speaking. For the new video, we used a collection of photographs taken during the 2009 trip. Looking at these images five years after they were taken, we have been moved again by the faith, hope and love of the wonderful people of Rwanda.
This blog is to share the song with the new video and an older poem (below). These are our best, creative attempts to explain what happened to us in Rwanda, and why we will be forever grateful.
“I Have Been To Rwanda”
by Grant Norsworthy
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 been struck speechless at the killing grounds – once a church building, a place of refuge, then a corral of carnage, now a monument to man’s evil upon man – the rows of broken skulls and the one the same size as my son’s.
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 carried water with a barefooted young boy whose daily journey and burden came close to breaking my will to carry.
I have sat and talked with a gracious 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 four orphans 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 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 stood shoulder to shoulder with the future leadership of Rwanda. Their quality of character, clarity or purpose and ethical conviction knows no boundary.
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 had my heart swept away by the smile and embrace of three children who give so much more than I can ever repay: Kirabo, Rafiki and Sandrine.
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’, and that ‘a kernel of wheat must first fall to the ground and die.’
The death of Rwanda and the new life in Rwanda sing loudly and clearly that greater faith in God grows in the garden of suffering.
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.
Meet more Compassion children here: www.compassion.com/grantnorsworthy