In 2009, a group of women in Kirehe, Rwanda, began meeting together. All of them had lost their husbands, but the reason behind their husbands’ absence couldn’t have been more vastly different. Some had lost their husbands as victims of the Rwandan genocide 15 years earlier; others had husbands serving prison sentences as perpetrators of […]Continue Reading...
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Keeping Christ central
A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration
Days of widespread bloodshed: 100
Percentage of the country self-identifying as Christians: 93.6%
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. As I reflect on these statistics, I can’t help but question: How do people who know the Gospel and regularly attend church take up machetes against their brothers and sisters in Christ?
This question has haunted me over the years, and I sought an answer from HOPE’s country director for the Rwanda SCA program, Erisa Mutabazi. In addition to his duties with HOPE, Erisa has served as an ordained pastor in the Anglican Church for almost three decades. He shared:
An important movement called the East Africa Revival began in Rwanda in 1929. It spread to Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya during the 1930s and 1940s. The preachers’ message focused on the severity of sin and the need for individuals to confess their sins publicly. The revival contributed to the significant growth of the church in East Africa in the 1940s through the 1970s.
However, what is extremely perplexing is that genocide was possible in Rwanda with such a large “Christian” population. How could true followers of Jesus do this to one another? I have concluded that the idea of being a Christian at that time did not mean living as a disciple who was called to a completely new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
This problem of conversions without discipleship is by no means unique to Rwanda. The country has come a long way in the past 20 years, and the local church has witnessed incredible stories of reconciliation through programs like HOPE’s savings and credit associations. But the fact that people often “convert” to Christianity without surrendering their lives to Christ compels HOPE to pursue nothing short of full discipleship in our spiritual integration efforts.
So what did Jesus say about what disciples should be and do?
This April marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 Rwandan men, women, and children. We join our brothers and sisters in mourning the traumatic events of those weeks, and as we witness reconciliation through our partner programs there, we thank God that brokenness is not the end of the story.
Please join us in praying for Rwanda in these six specific ways.
Join us in praying that God heals their wounds, guards them from bitterness, and causes them to flourish even in the midst of deep pain. Pray that, instead of reliving the terror of those violent months, they would remember God’s deliverance and “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Pray that those who lost loved ones would be comforted in fresh ways this year.
As they are once again reminded of the atrocities they committed, ask God to restore each one and soften their hearts. Pray that they would choose to embrace God’s forgiveness and move forward in obedience to God with full assurance of His love and acceptance.
Lift up the women and children who lost husbands and parents in the violence. Pray also for women who contracted HIV/AIDS through sexual violence in that period and for children who have been orphaned by the disease. Pray that they will experience God’s provision and the healing power of Christ’s love.
Pray that in each of Rwanda’s communities, the Church would be known as an instrument of peace, a champion of truth, and a protector of the defenseless. Pastor Joseph, one of HOPE’s partners in Gasharu, shares, “Even though we went through that traumatic experience, our people strongly believe that there is hope. There is hope that God is healing people’s hearts. And I’ve seen that our people have a sense of unity among themselves.”
Praise God for the ministry of savings groups in Rwanda, and ask Him to continue using them to bring about profound change. As savings facilitator Christine Vuguziga explains, many people joined savings groups to improve their difficult financial situations, “but they also deeply needed community, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The Church believed that God would work through these small savings groups. And He has.” Watch “A Hope That Saves” to hear testimonies of this change.
Thank God for rebuilding the nation in so many ways, and pray that the country’s leaders would promote equality, harmony, and justice for all people. Pray that the next generation of Rwandans would no longer see themselves in terms of ethnic differences, and ask God to renew each community in powerful ways.
If you’d like to join with us in prayer more regularly, sign up for our monthly prayer update at www.hopeinternational.org/pray.
I stand outside the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre looking out over the beautiful city of Kigali, Rwanda, where a progressing, strikingly beautiful city is growing. People are warm and friendly. There is a strong ethic to move forward together for positive growth. Compared to many places, things seem put together, peaceful, hopeful, happy.
Standing there outside the memorial, I am reminded that people carry stories within them that are not expressly apparent on the outside. Every person’s story is different. Some have found forgiveness, some still cannot move past the pain, some have found incredible healing.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
It’s been eight months since I’ve returned home from Rwanda, and one impression from the trip keeps coming back to me: Satan has never felt more real to me than he did in Rwanda. It wasn’t because the people I met seemed evil. On the contrary, it was because they were welcoming and wonderful, and without the influence of Satan, I can’t imagine how 18 years ago, these incredible people could have spent 100 days engaged in a gruesome slaughter of their neighbors, friends, and families. Continue Reading…