“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.
Matthew 21:28-31 (NRSV)
It has been 20 years today since the Rwandan genocide. In 100 days, 800,000 people, mostly the minority Tutsi, were slaughtered by Hutu extremists.
The violence was horrific and many of the people were killed with machetes. Roadblocks were set up. Rwandan ID cards identified people by their race.
The racism was so pervasive in the country that some clergy participated in the genocide and have been convicted of these atrocities. While the church should always stand in opposition to racism and genocide, this is a reminder that the church often is reflective of the culture in which it exists.
When we as a church are guilty of promoting hatred, it is good to apologize whether we were actively a part of it or not. It may have been our forefathers or even distant cousins. If the sincere repentance for these deeds can help with the healing of the wounded then it is worth it.
I remember attending the 2012 General Conference and many were not happy about the service of repentance led by our Native American brothers and sisters. Those upset by the service claimed that the past should be the past and we should move on.
My take was that if it was helpful to some who have suffered, then it was worthwhile for all of us to attend. It cost me nothing, save some retrospection. I gained new perspective and understanding which is always valuable.
As we continue in Lent, please be in prayer for our Rwandan brothers and sisters. My prayer is that reconciliation will continue so that they never have to repeat this awful tragedy.
|Skull and Belongings of Genocide Victims |
Here, a sister in Christ.
Genocide Memorial Center - Kigali - Rwanda
Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons