Today’s guest blog is written by Elizabeth Smith, who recently went on a trip with our World Help team to Rwanda. In this post she shares her thoughts from her life-changing experience.
I am hard pressed to create a narrative that sufficiently captures my experiences in Rwanda. To say they were life-changing is an understatement. Going to Rwanda was like being with God every day.
It was like having my eyes peeled open and the veil removed.
I could see clearly and I could understand the greater purpose that God intends for my life and for the lives of all of His children. While every moment in Rwanda was special, there are two particular events that really moved me.
One was when we visited the Village of Reconciliation. This village was highlighted in the documentary “As We Forgive.” The village is a special forgiveness project, in which Genocide survivors live there with repentant genocide perpetrators as their neighbors.
We listened to the testimony of Rosaria, who survived the genocide with only the daughter she was pregnant with, while her husband, children, sister, nieces, and nephews were slaughtered. We also heard the testimony of Rosaria’s neighbor, Suvari, along with the man responsible for killing Rosaria’s family. It was amazing to see God’s grace in action.
As the meeting progressed, the villagers sang for us. In Rwanda, when they sing to the Lord, it is a celebration. An older man and Suvari began to dance. As they continued to sing, approached me and grasped both my hands as an invitation to dance with him. There was a light in his eyes, and I could see the power of God’s forgiveness.
I was not dancing with a killer; I was dancing with a forgiven child of God.
The second important event occurred when we visited a Village of Hope. This is a village consisting of child-headed households. Many of our team members immediately gravitated toward the young children. Our professor reminded us that the young adults and teenagers nearby were the actual orphans of the genocide. We had the opportunity to go with these adult orphans and visit their homes.
In the village, I met a young girl named Clementine and her brothers and sisters. I was honored when she shared a little bit of her childhood experiences, but she had no memories of her parents at all. She was just three when they were murdered in the genocide. Midway through our conversation, her 27-year-old brother, Bosco, came home and shared with me that he had three older siblings, but they had all been murdered with their parents when he was just 10 years old, making him the head of the household. He had five younger brothers and sisters who survived. Bosco told me he does not remember very much prior to the genocide or the genocide itself. He focused on taking care of his younger siblings and tried to keep them safe from harm. I was amazed he had looked after his siblings for 17 years after witnessing the deaths of his older siblings and parents.
His gentle, quiet spirit took me aback.
I asked him about taking a wife and having children of his own. He explained to me that since he does not have an education from the university, he has nothing to offer a family. He shared that he will not seek a wife until he can properly provide for her, and he hopes to attend university in Kigali for a degree in computer science, an in-demand field in Rwanda. Since the university is expensive, he does not know how he will attend, but he knows God will provide.
I felt especially moved by Bosco’s dilemma. He was so responsible under such horrible circumstances, and he cared for his siblings when he could have turned his back. Bosco remained close to God when many facing his situation would have blamed or abandoned Him.
I wanted to stand with him, and I knew I wanted to help him.
So upon returning home, I shared my experiences with my husband, and we decided that we would partner with these adult orphans. We pray for them and maintain regular contact with Clementine. We have begun living a simpler lifestyle and started saving to send Bosco to the university so that he may have a future, a career, a wife, and a family.
I pray that God will bless us, so we may provide for Bosco and his siblings as they work to improve their circumstances by going to college.
As a mother, I know that is what I would want for my child.
I would have never had this opportunity had I not been obedient to God’s call to “Go!” It seems to me that we have relegated missions’ trips to the youth or those special individuals that God has “called out.” However, we all have a command from Christ in the Great Commission to “go into all nations.”