Well, I just finished this book by Immaculee Ilabagiza. She is a young woman, actually about my age I guess, who miraculously survived the mass murder of the Tutsi people of Rwanda in 1994. Her story is difficult, but beautiful. I encourage you to read it, for many reasons. Understanding what happened in this holocaust is important, but on a spiritual level, there are things we need to learn from her about faith in suffering. Her story is a modern day example of how you can lose everything, and at that point be given a chance to understand more of the Bible and more of an intimacy with God than you ever would have in a land of safety and plenty.
There were times in reading this book I was shaking with rage, as I learned more details than I could really bear to know. And that rage is really what this book was about; it was about how generations of hatred live on, with lies whispered into their ears, rumors of blame. There is so much need in Africa, and so the cycle begins: There is suffering for a multitude of reasons, then many of those in suffering are so mad that they learn to hate the people they think are responsible for their lack, then after years of the lies (or maybe its true, maybe certain people like their government are responsible for their suffering) they believe those people aren’t even people. And when we believe someone else isn’t an equal human being, we ourselves stop acting as decent human beings. As generations carry these grievances, all started by satan who lives for this confusion and hatred and slaughter, thousands of people have the capability to cross their front lawn to kill their neighbors–all in an effort to have more jobs or food or security or safety for themselves–and this is part of the story of how the Rwandan Holocaust happened.
In my heart, (which as I said felt a lot of rage in reading this book) and in the hearts of those survivors and their children and their children who will walk the ground of Rwanda, or Germany, or even the United States,–who will continue to visit graves, who will still live in terror sometimes at the evil on the earth, who will possibly teach their children the same fear and self-reliance and sadness they themselves still suffer from–there must be a change. I pray for a healing, and this healing only–ONLY–comes through a personal encounter with Jesus and the truth of God’s Word. I have felt this so many times, and it is even more confirmed now, whatever we have to do to make a person safe, warm, fed, we need to do it, with the heart of God on our sleeve. We need to tuck them in covers and say this is Jesus with His arms around them, as Sweet Sleep does when they give beds to orphans. We need to rescue women who are numb and lost because of their current occupation of forced prostitution and like the International Justice Mission, give them spiritual mothers who can speak worth and promise into their lives again just like our mothers did. Damaged and broken people cause more damage and brokenness. They need Jesus, and in every blanket, every counseling session, every grain of rice, He can be clearly represented. World peace isn’t coming…Jesus is coming! Until He does, I want to know Him well, and trust He will make us vessels for others to also know Him well…know Him so well that “all of a sudden they are unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory” (J.M. McMillan/2 Cor. 4:16-18)
I pray for us to have these things Immaculee wrote about: Such a deep understanding of God’s personal relationship with us, deep enough to know all is well either in life or in death, deep enough to let go of this temporary life when the day comes. Such a deep understanding of Jesus’s words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”, deep enough to face people who have done things worse than rabid animals would and just plead with God to bring them to their knees in repentance so they could be saved from His wrath.
Souls are so fragile. We have to love.