In 1994, Rwanda experienced a genocide. In one hundred days, one million Rwandans (mostly Tutsis and some moderate Hutus) were slaughtered by Hutus. Almost two and half decades later, Rwandans are still impacted by the fallout of the genocide in the following ways:
1. Unresolved grief/trauma: A sizeable majority of Rwandans had family members and friends killed. The country experiences a month-long mourning every April-May. Genocide memorial sites are located throughout the country. Since the conclusion of the genocide, the Rwandan government has urged Rwandans to forgive; to not seek vigilante revenge.
2. A Level of Suspicion: Rwandans are suspicious of other people because during the genocide they were betrayed by neighbours, friends, family members, and fellow church members.
3. Many Lack the Basic Needs of Life: Impoverished widows and orphans are in need of the basic needs of life (e.g. food, clothing, education, improved housing, etc.). In some cases, women will “sell” their bodies in order to provide for these basic needs of life.
The Rwandan government has initiated many positive initiatives that are improving social mobilisation, cultural homogeneity with an emphasis on group obligations over personal entitlements, but there are ongoing needs to address the above-mentioned challenges. The government is trying to unify the people by championing the policy: “one people, one language, one culture, one Rwanda” but as a Rwanda pastor told me, “Only the forgiving love of God in Christ will bring reconciliation, healing, and unity between the people of Rwanda.” This is their most fundamental need.
The Christian church is vibrant in Rwanda and church leaders and laity are making significant contributions to the revitalization of Rwanda but they request our help. They request our prayers. They are eager to study God’s Word in more depth with particular emphasis on the unconditional love of God in Christ Jesus. They invite us to help address the needs of widows and orphans by supporting the ministry of an organization like, “Lift Them Up.” — a Christian not-for-profit striving to alleviate the effects of post-genocidal poverty through educational sponsorships and charitable giving by living out James 1:27. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”