Kigali_genocide_memorial_1Rwanda is a country of only 8 million people.  From April to July of 1994 one million of those people were brutally killed.  During that same time another two million people were displaced or became refugees.  Those numbers alone are staggering; but it is mind-blowing when you think that all happened in less than 100 days!  Think about it like this:  10,000 people being humiliated through rape or some other kind of torture before being killed by beating, machete or gun every day for 100 days.  This is what happened at during the Rwandan genocide.

Yesterday, we were able to visit the Kigali Memorial Centre which is a is a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide and serves as a place for people to grieve those they lost. On this small piece of land there are mass graves that hold the bodies of 257,000 people who were murdered during the genocide.  It is now 12 years later and they are still discovering bodies that they are adding to this mass grave.  The picture is of one of those new bodies recently discovered and is now a part of the Kigali Memorial Centre.

The hardest part of the the trip was visiting the Children’s Memorial where people have brought hundreds and thousands of pictures of children who were killed during the genocide.  It is looking into the faces of real little kids that allows you to see the evil and tragic loss from this kind of horrific event.

As I sort out this event from a personal and historical perspective no one gets away without some blood on their hands.  The United States was too busy with it’s own domestic problems to step and do something.  The U.N. has already admitted that they mishandled the situation.  Belgium has even put forth a formal apology.  And each Rwandan, whether Hutu or Tutsi had a choice – albeit a choice that could cost them their life; they still had a choice.  In mass people chose to go with the tide of evil instead of advancing the dream of God.  And what was I doing during those 3 months in 1994?  I was pastoring a new church, but I don’t remember ever mentioning this at Community Christian Church.  I don’t really remember one personal conversation on the topic.  Oh there are plenty of excuses:  “I thought it was a civil war”; “It happened so fast”; “what could I really do anyway?”  But each of those excuses sound pretty empty when it is this close and I can see it.

As for me I am resolved more than ever to accomplish the Jesus mission in the face of whatever kind of evil comes my way.  I am resolved to lead a church and if God blesses it a movement that will advance the dream of God through the Kingdom of God.  And I resolve to lead in such a way that we will only be guilty of doing too much and never again not enough.

If you want to listen or read some more about the Kigali Memorial Centre NPR did a story on it a couple years ago titled:  Creating a Memorial to Rwanda’s Genocide Victims

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