Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Forgiveness

Today we began our sessions in Rwanda, with everyone finally through immigration, checked in the hotel and gathered together.  Today we considered, with concrete dimension, what forgiveness looks like in Africa.  We heard from Frieda, a young woman who survived the genocide, but lost most of her family in a most gruesome and inhumane series of killings during the 1994 one hundred days of killing.  She shared how she suffered, but how she was confronted with the charge to forgive if she ever wanted to embrace life again.  It was not easy to forgive, but she found it necessary.  And then she found it freeing.  Then Maria shared her story.  She is a Hutu, she is related to those who killed.  She shared the deep angst of watching the genocide, but walking through the city freely because she was Hutu.  She shared how many of her family members are in exile or imprisoned for their part in the genocide killings.  She feels such guilt for being part of this tribe, so heart broken over family members who became killers, and now she calls fellow Hutu's to repent for their crimes, to confess their complicity and seek forgiveness.

These two stories together, from a survivor and a beneficiary, point out something striking about real life reconciliation in places like Rwanda.  Our practice of reconciliation has to be large enough to allow for survivors and victims; perpetrators and beneficiaries.  Both shared of deep personal loss, hardship and broken families.  It is easy to feel compassion toward the victim.  But we must not forget those on the wrong side of justice, for they too need to be reconciled.  There must be grace and compassion for all involved if these nations are to be restored.  This is a monumental challenge.  Reconciliation is not easy, but it is not an option in Africa.

While the contemplation is deep, the connection with friends is rich!  There are new friends already found and so many reunions!  I am loving the lavish time together under the Rwandan sun.

Blessings to your friends.  More later!
 

2 comments:

Rusty said...

Our hearts and prayers are with you all. I have been following the conversation via Tim Keels blog, I am sad to be missing such an awesome time in Rwanda.

Anonymous said...

I read every word with joy and feel as if I am walking in your footsteps, just a little behind the leader. Thank you for your contributions and for sharing your wonderful experiences. I miss you everyday and at the same time am so glad that you are able to share with all of us your experiences. Be safe and keep up the great work! You and your family are truly an inspiration! And don't worry - the trees are fine :)