Today marks 16 years since the end of the genocide in Rwanda which killed 1+ million people.
My first trip to Rwanda was in April 2003, I am married to a Rwandese, I have lived in Rwanda now for 4.5 years and it never ceases to amaze me when I think about it, how far this country has come since those horrific 100 days in 1994.
The only outward signs that I see of the genocide are the 'shot' holes in the Parliament Buildings where the RPF soldiers were trapped as they waited for their fellow soldiers to rescue them and the many memorial sites in Kigali and around the country.
There is development happening everywhere in the city and around the country - new buildings are constantly being constructed, roads are being rebuilt, the city plan of Kigali is being implemented, fiber optic lines are being laid, we have power about 99.9% of the time, you can register a business now in one day, some international ATM machines have come to town, believe it is one of the safest cities in Africa - maybe the world, etc. etc. etc.
AND Rwanda has received many rewards including best development and least corrupt country in Africa. President Kagame is also among the most noted African leaders.
It is SO hard to believe when I stop to think where the country is today and where it has come from. But I MUST do that regularly so not to lose the incredibleness of who the people of Rwanda are. They are survivors, they are determined, they are persistent - they move forward unlike anybody I have ever heard of or about.
There is not a Rwandan alive today that has not been touched by the genocide in one way or another. Maybe their parents or grandparents fled in 1959 as colonization settled into Rwanda and the killings started, or maybe they fled in the years to come or maybe they are a survivor of the genocide or maybe they are the relatives of those who killed.
Everyone has a story to tell.
Sometimes they are able to share them openly and sometimes not but I can usually see in their eyes most of the time how deep the pain and hurt go. ¸
I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.
I believe in the power of forgiveness and I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what forgiveness is... and then I came to Rwanda.
For the last 7 years, I have been on a journey to try to wrap my mind around it.
I see and hear of it here in Rwanda like I have never heard of it before - a mother taking in the son of the man who killed her family and adopting him, a girl standing next to another girl in our church choir whose father killed her entire family, women of rape most living with HIV/AIDS singing joyously to their faithful God at the weekly Ubuzima Association meetings... the stories are many.
If they can forgive, how much more has God forgiven us?
I think I am at a place of knowing that the forgiveness of God is SO vast and SO great that I can`t understand it. I just need to accept it in faith with a peace that passes understanding.
Pray for Rwanda. Just because the country has come so far, there is still much healing to be done.
August 9th is a federal election here. May God continue to allow Rwanda to be the purpose-driven country that President Kagame wants it to be.