Thursday, February 17, 2011

What I learned today

This morning I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Bishop Augustin Ahimana. He's from Rwanda and is in town at the invitation of All Saint's Church. I am so thankful for Charlie, All Saint's pastor, for inviting me and Hub City to be a part of Augustin's visit.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with Rwandan history, but in 1994 there was a genocide that resulted in over a million Rwandans being killed in 100 days. It's horrific.

Augustin's family were a part of those who were killed. His current wife's first husband was murdered. His first wife died of a brain tumor. He has 11 children, three of whom are children they've adopted who lost parents during the genocide. He lived as a refugee in Congo because he was discriminated against and not allowed to get an education beyond elementary school. His life experiences qualify him to teach me, and you, some things.

Here are a number of learnings and observations from my time with the bishop.
  • He talked about seeing the hand of God at work in restoring and reconciling Rwanda. One of the most powerful evidences of the hand of God is the forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation that is happening. Parents are going to visit the murderers in prison who have killed their children and they telling them that now they are their children. Women are marrying the men who killed their husbands because of the forgiveness that's taken place. And we get mad when someone gets our order wrong at Burger King.
  • He shared how the church was complicit, and in some ways responsible, for the genocide. People would run into sanctuaries for shelter and church leaders would allow them to be killed. Some of the church leaders were the ones doing the killings. As a result, the church lost all credibility. After the genocide the church (all churches, no matter what denomination) came together and publicly repented and apologized for their role. This opened the door for the church to gain back credibility and become a force for healing and reconciliation. It makes me wonder what we, as the American church, needs to apologize for.
  • He mentioned how we're really good at building our little kingdoms, our little churches, at the expense of working together to build The Kingdom of God. Theological differences don’t matter. Methodological differences don’t matter. What matters is that people are broken and sinful. They need salvation. Salvation comes from Jesus. Healing comes from the gospel of Jesus. I don't want to waste my time building my little kingdom. This was very convicting to me. What we are a part of is way bigger than our individual churches. May God break us in this area.
  • Having lost so many family members and seen such injustice I sensed absolutely no bitterness towards those responsible for the genocide. None. It was unbelievable. Afterwards, Charlie said that we have no joy because we won't forgive. That is so true.
  • Finally, Augustin mentioned that Jesus is his life. I wonder how many of us could say the same thing? We substitute so many other things for life. We need Jesus.

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