Picking up where I left off from a few days ago, as you can imagine our mood was somber as we left the church that was used during the genocide. I think the reality of what this country went through really hit us. Talking to a lady who had survived it, seeing her scars…it made me thankful that neither my family nor myself had ever had to survive something like this. I think the question that remained in our minds was “how can humans do this to humans.” Or even worse “how can neighbors do this to their neighbors?”
That was a question we were all contemplating as we continued our drive to Reconciliation Village. You may be asking yourself, why the name “reconciliation village.” I would encourage you to rent (or even Netflix) the moving “As We Forgive.” Why? Mostly because this movie gives you a well document background to Rwanda’s plight. The honest truth is that it was not foreign invaders that killed an estimated 1 million people in 90 days. It this countries own people, yes we were around murders and people who had their very hands in this slaughter!
But what happens when finally there is justice brought, what happens is that the survivors are left broken and the perpetrators are locked up. What population is left? Broken women, orphaned children and no one who can do much for themselves, they can barely survive. The able-bodied men and children, the are in jail for their crimes. The crimes of murdering entire families, but in ways that are so unspeakable.
In order for the country to overcome though, they need the able-bodied men who can help with the crops, re-planting and rebuilding. Hence the Reconciliation Process was born, mostly in part by a prison organization. The men/children who were in jail had to admit what they had done, whom they had killed, where (to the best of their knowledge) the bodies/remains were located. Then they had to face the survivors of whom they had killed and ask for forgiveness. Can you imagine? A man standing before you telling you where and how he killed our entire family, but yet he has the gall to ask you to forgive him?
Yes it happened and yes today it still happens! That is the story behind the Reconciliation Village; the people have acknowledged that they have been hurt but they are also willing to forgive. Yes I know, how could they forgive? How could I forgive? Could I forgive? Could you forgive? The how they forgive, I can only attribute that to the love of the Heavenly Father, yes I believe it is something so great that it can only be described as possible thanks to the love of God. Because as a human being, I do not think we could forgive such atrocities as what happened in Rwanda.
But before our eyes a perpetrator and a survivor sat side by side! It reminds me of the verse in the Bible, the that lion will lay down next to the lamb. A beautiful, touching, and amazing story! It shows strength, it shows power, it shows God! If nothing else comes from this trip, I have seen that you can have forgiveness. Despite the most grotesque and cruelest acts that mankind can do…you can still forgive! You can still hug the person who harmed you, you can still live despite the damage of your life.
The important thing to remember is that forgiving is not forgetting! You will never forget; we will never forget what we have seen or heard but you can forgive. You can remember that God still has a higher purpose. You can see that this country is being used for God’s glory! People are coming from all around to hear the stories of forgiveness. The sad part is first we have to hear the stories of hate, hurt and of utter cruelty. But through that hurt we see the most beautiful picture of grace!
As someone said while we were listening and learning in the Reconciliation Village, we heard the story of Christ on the cross. Even in his moments of deepest pain, he said “Father forgive them, for they know NOT what they do.” This was told to us many times by these people seeking to do the unthinkable, seeking to forgive something that so many could not.
This country is the light to the world! A lighthouse set apart! I truly hope that their story of forgiveness touches so many lives that we can do one day join them in Reconciliation with those who have hurt us. Remembering that even our Heavenly Father prayed that they be forgiven, and so can we!