Bad things happen to all of us. Much of the ministry that clergy do is in response to bad things. Most of the time, the bad events are sickness, divorce and death. We talk about God’s healing. God does heal. For those who are sick, they get better. For those who divorce, they hurt but in many cases, learn to find love and live life again. For those who die, it is the survivors who remember and mourn. Eventually mourning leads to healing for most people. For those who lost loved ones in tragedy, that mourning can take longer. These are all bad things. These are events that are hard, but they are by and large, part of the human experience.
There are other bad things that are a part of the human experience. War is bad. Some of our friends and neighbors have seen the horror of war. It is an evil that every generation has had to endure. Sometimes war is fought to prevent the spreading of evil. Other times it is fought because of human greed or arrogance. The majority of us do not live with the day to day reality of war. We do not live in Sudan, Lebanon, Baghdad or Kabul. We hear the stories, we see the news reports, but for the most part, the reports are just words.
Genocide is another bad thing. When we think of genocide, most of us think about Hitler or the Holocaust in WWII Germany. In 1994 genocide took place in Rwanda with a death toll of 800,000 in 100 days. Where were you in 1994? I was in my final year of Seminary. I remember hearing the words when the news began to report about the violence in Rwanda when one tribe rose up in an attempt to exterminate the other tribe. They were all just words to me. It was one more bad thing in a world of bad things as I was preparing to minister to folks right here in the United States who were enduring bad things.
When the movie Hotel Rwanda came out, I watched it. I began to read articles online. The internet is a powerful tool. It even allowed me to see photographs that had not been screened or filtered by the network press. They were raw photos of the bad things. I saw photos of women who were being mutilated after they had been raped. Men hacked to death with machetes. Children dashed on the concrete and left to die in the streets. I cried. I became enraged. I cried again. Using the word “bad” seemed to trivialize this epic example of human brutality.
In the midst of the slow spiritual recovery, Dr. Pauline Mukeshimana, whose young son was poisoned by a woman in the other tribe, is teaching survivors about forgiveness and helping plan for a future both in Rwanda and with immigrants living in Louisville. Dr. Mukeshimana will be with us on Sunday morning, October 3, for morning worship with a Rwandan choir. She and Gate of Hope ministries are raising awareness and support for their mission. Come to be encouraged. Please come to help. Come to learn about real bad things that might help us in our bad things. Come ready to see that all Christians around the world are truly bound together by the blood of Christ.
To Donate to Gate of Hope Ministries, working with survivors of the genocide, please email RevIke@fcc-ashland.org or contact the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Ashland at 606.324.5335.