“Things, they are a Changing”
I have seen the effect of genocide twice up close, once in Cambodia, and now here in Rwanda. It is an unbelievable event. It is something that you cannot rationalize or really comprehend. My new friend Mike is a pastor here in Kigali who is doing a great work with young people. He was about 10 or 12 when the genocide occurred and was spared. He said, “it was like the devil came to Rwanda personally In 1994 and just possessed people, when you ask people who were involved (many of whom are still being tried) they can’t tell you why they did it.”
At the Museum I watched some video of these men being tried, and they can tell you what they did, but they don’t really know why. The motivation here was hate. A feeling of superiority and long standing contention between the tribes, that boiled over into full on move of one tribe to wipe out the other. It was organized to the point that once the first blow was struck they had lists of people who were to die. Outside forces, religious, political, and governmental contributed to wrong thinking, and the ability to take it to this level. I wish people could only see what present decisions can do to future circumstances.
The Bottom line is, over a million people slaughtered, innocent people. Men, women, boys and girls, families torn apart, women raped, people cut, beat, and mutilated with a violence that is incomprehensible.
One issue in all of this thats different than other genocides is it happened a mere fourteen years ago. This nation is very much still getting over it. They still mourn, they still carry out weekly trials, and they are trying to educate their people to what racism, ethnic conflict and hate can do. Their goal is to never let this happen again.
The worst thing about this for me is the world turned their back on this war torn nation while for 100 days it tore itself a part. Someone, several someone’s could have done something. We did not do enough, period. If we look around we can see that it has happened again in Darfur and there is much more awareness about it, but still more can and could be done.
The shining star in all this are many of the people we are meeting with while we are here and many more are living their lives with hope. They are pushing into the future with a passion and purpose. This is the hope of the future of Rwanda. Rwanda’s own people are helping one another, ministering the gospel, building and running orphanages, bridging the gap between the different ethnicities, and peoples. There is hope in Rwanda, and, “Things, they are a changing.”
This is the genocide museum, this flame burns for 100 days to memorialize the 100 days of devastation. They built this here, because this is where the majority of the bodies were found in Kigali. There are over 285,000 people buried in the mass graves you will see.These slabs are mass graves.There are 2000 names listed so far on this wall, there are 285,000 buried here, this gives some perspective.
They wouldn’t allow us to take pictures inside the museum, but we saw actual footage of these atrocities, I won’t attempt to describe it to you, because really there are no words. There is true evil in the world without a doubt, but that is why we are to be the light in the darkness. It is our role as Christians to love each other, and everyone, to reach out with compassion and grace and mercy to all those in need. God wants us to shine the light of his word into this dark world and see change. I love the quote by St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use your words.” We are to do as much as we are to say.
One whole room in this museum is devoted to atrocities perpetrated against children.
Children are precious in the sight of God, and He has called us to bring hope to the forgotten children. I believe by the grace of God, and by the light that is shining in this place Rwanda has great hope for its future.