Spending Sunday’s in Rwanda might have to become a thing. It was such an easy going morning packing up our hotel in Kigali to go to a parish in the high mountains of Rwanda. There was a few moments I didn’t know if we would completely make it up the hill. However this day was one of love, hope, joy, and realizing that the reconciliation I have talked to others about is completely real. After arriving at the the church we walked in to a celebration. They were waiting on us even if they wouldn’t admit it. We saw dancing in great joy for the Lord. A combination of traditional Rwandan culture and transformation to doing all for the glory of God. They danced and sang for God and for us.
A moment of interest happened when two people walked out of the service to attend to the dead battery in their sound system (probably dead because they waited on us). Manu helped to translate for us to make sure we could kind of follow along. The service was incredible. So much joy, outbursts of love for God and for us as visitors. Pastor Ildephonse focused his sermon on unity. This seemed to be appropriate with the presidents speech during Liberation day about being one. We all have different gifts and talents but the same spirit. Weather we are from America or from Rwanda, we have the same spirit that connects us. We are one body, one Church, one people after the expansion of love in the world. It’s amazing to me how coffee can bring us to relationships I never thought I would be able to cultivate.
There were a few parts of the service that confused us Americans, including the biblical principal of bringing your first fruits of the harvest to the church. People had brought different crops to the church for their use as they saw fit. The part of the service that had impacted me the most was being able to pray with and for these people. The pastor asked anyone who had felt a tug on their heart to come forward. To ask for God’s help in whatever they needed. Pastor also asked one of us to pray for them. Being the leader it didn’t take long to realize that the person praying would be me. It was a Holy moment, to have my prayers translated into a new language and to be able to love and pray for these people I didn’t even know. I didn’t know their struggle or their need. But to pray for them. To have them know that I love them for their spirit.
That was a significant moment for me.
After the service they requested we basically form a receiving line and have every one in the church be able to shake our hands and welcome us to the congregation. This was incredible because of the openness of strangers. When we have a visitor we normally say welcome and maybe offer a greeting but most of the time a meal is not served with people of the congregation and showing love for one another. The moment that made me realize this was a holy moment was when I asked if the Rwandans that joined us for lunch would share a portion of their story. Something about who they are and how they came to be in their place. It was a hard moment. A line needs to be walked of having people share their story but also try and not have them relive the heartache of the genocide. The woman told us of the events leading up to genocide. And then a bit about what happened. The man who had perpetrated the atrocious acts could barely stand it. He sat next to the person he destroyed and held back tears trying to make sure he didn’t ball like I wanted too.
It reminded me of a part in the service when the Pastor asked the three that joined us to stand up and to introduce themselves. He made sure to mention that whatever sins they committed, even the ones of genocide and murder were forgiven when they asked for forgiveness and love in their hearts.
I wish I could explain the rest of the day/night. It is a mix of joy and conversation. Of getting to know members of the group more fully and knowing their story of coming on the trip and how God might be shaping their future. Today was a somber day of remembering people are capable of tragic things. And it is us who are responsible to correct and love all people. No matter what the circumstance. Tomorrow we head back to the school to hang out with kids and even try to teach a little bit… This should be fun!