It has now been over 14 years since the genocide in Rwanda. Calm reigns throughout the country. But it is a wounded calm, and the need for deep transformation continues.
At the beginning of May 2008 I once again had the privilege to teach in an international leadership training event called “Berean Safari” (so named because, like the Bereans of Acts 17, we “journey” (safari) by closely examining the Scriptures). One of the things that makes this teaching opportunity so exciting is that it pulls together people from many different nations. This year there were participants from seven different nations in and beyond Africa. With so many different cultures gathered around the Bible, we are enriched by a wide range of insights and perspectives.
Also very rich are the mealtime and after-hours conversations with inspiring people from dramatically different situations. I returned to Berean Safari this year eager to deepen my relationship with a university student ministry leader from Rwanda named Lambert.
When the violence erupted in Rwanda in 1994, Lambert was just a child. He and several members of his family managed to survive by walking out of Rwanda and into a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They stayed there two and a half years before returning to Rwanda.
Like most of the children of Rwanda in those days, he saw, heard and felt things during 1994 that no child should ever have to experience. Things that mark a person for life. Fourteen years later, Lambert finds himself working to re-mark the lives of children who went through the trauma and are now in college.
Lambert knows that below the surface calm in Rwanda there is still much healing to be done: “I was able to interact peacefully with others, and certainly looked tranquil on the outside. But I was just wearing a mask, pretending not to feel the things that were tearing at my soul. I was able to experience real healing only after God brought the truth of Isaiah 53 home to my heart. When I realized that God’s servant Jesus had borne our sorrows and wounds, when I realized that God had entered fully into our suffering, then my own healing flowed out of Jesus’ wounds. That’s when I could turn loose of my hurt and anger and embrace God’s forgiveness--both for others and for myself. I really don’t know what I would have done if I had tried to enter into ministry without experiencing God’s deep healing in my heart. Now I work so that others may have this healing.”
Lambert knows that the people of Rwanda “need more than peace; they need the healing touch of Jesus deep inside.” What is so dramatically true for Rwandans is, of course, true for all of us, whether we have been through great trauma or just the ordinary bumps and bruises of life.
I’m grateful to God for the chance to help Lambert--and the other inspiring servants at Berean Safari--grow in his ability to understand and communicate the message of Scripture. Thank you for the prayer and financial support that makes this ministry possible!