I came away from a recent trip to Rwanda with three core convictions burning in my heart:
Evil is real
The Gospel truly is the power of God for salvation
What we do in this world actually matters
Prior to my Rwanda trip I would have affirmed the truth of each of these ideas. But there is a difference between generally affirming a truth and being gripped and held by a deep conviction. If you detect a certain intensity pulsing through the posts on my blog site, now you know the reason why. Let me share my experience.
Last February I accompanied a team from our church to begin a partnership with Africa New Life Ministries in the Bugesera district of Rwanda. This partnership includes child sponsorship that allow children to attend the Kibenga primary school, as well as support for a new church plant on a parcel of ground not far from the school. During our trip, the events of one day in particular had a huge impact on me.
In the morning we visited the Genocide Museum in Nyamata, where gruesome piles of blood stained clothes sit on wooden benches in a Catholic Church. This church serves as a memorial for nearly 10,000 people who were murdered in or around the church on April 10, 1994. Terrified men, women and children ran to the church, seeking shelter. Instead, they were dismembered by machete, bludgeoned to death with handheld tools, or simply shot. In many cases those who killed were neighbors of those they slaughtered. In a crypt behind the church we viewed their bones – thousands upon thousands – sorted and stacked like cords of wood. A plaque on the wall amplified the horror and set the memorial in its larger context – in the Rwandan genocide 800,000 people were killed in just 90 days.
Tears welled in our eyes that day; and with the tears a flood of questions: Who could do this, and why? What is the measure of human rage, hatred, and brutality? Does this go beyond mere human agency? Could this be demonic? What is the nature of evil in our world and in the human heart?
I know there are complex layers to the story of the Rwandan genocide. No, I don’t want to reduce it all to easy answers. All I can tell you is that I left that day gripped to the core with a deep conviction that ultimate evil is real in our world.
What is your read on evil? What is your conviction? How does it impact your life and mission as a Christ follower?
Next post: The gospel of Christ is the power of God for salvation.