I read a book last year We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families , Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch. This book documented the horrible atrocities committed in Rwanda in 1994. I was especially struck by the savagery and merciless slaughter of Christians. I was also struck by the hypocrisy of some Christian organizations who sold out their brothers and sisters to protect themselves and their assets.
What took place in Rwanda was a long time ago and has been forgotten by most people. Even when it was happening, it was on par with the holocaust during World War II as far as lack of media coverage and attempts to stop the carnage. Yet, what took place in that small country in the middle of Africa nearly 20 years ago continues to be the gold standard for describing what people can do to each other when there are no moral constraints or laws in place to subdue the carnal desire for revenge.
The killings that took place in Rwanda became so commonplace that they took on a blasé tone. Authorities would show up and inform families that it was their time to be killed. There was no screaming or pleading for one's life, only the resignation that life would be over shortly.
Many times churches would be destroyed on a Sunday morning when they were full of believers. Many times anyone who was known to be a Christian was elevated to the top of the list of whose turn it was to be killed on a particular day. Every Christian who survived the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda had family or close friends perish during the morbid crisis.
Those who survived could have hardened their hearts after the situation was finally resolved and would have had been totally justified to take revenge on those responsible for the destruction of their families, homes and businesses. No one could blame them if they took out their rage on those who killed their family members and destroyed their houses of worship. But, this is not what took place.
As missionaries descended on Rwanda after the massacre, they were amazed to see the forgiveness manifested by especially the Christians toward those who sought to destroy them. I recently read an article where the author (who is a pastor serving in Rwanda) made a profound statement. Here is what this man said regarding the Rwandan believers:
They didn't wait for a change of heart. They simply forgave. And the act of forgiveness changed them.
So many times we spend a lifetime waiting for our heart to soften so we will forgive someone for a bad thing they did to us. For many, their lifetime comes and goes and they never soften so they never forgive. We must seek to forgive first and THEN allow the act of forgiveness to change our heart.
There is no greater witness we can provide as Christians than to forgive, turn the other cheek or in the words of Jesus: Bless them which persecute you, bless and curse not . The greatest freedom we ever receive in this life comes when we lay down our animosity, anger and bitterness and simply FORGIVE.
Lack of forgiveness destroys a person from the inside out. It is a breeding ground for bad things that systematically destroy the good things we have in Christ. Forgiveness goes against the desire for revenge that lives in the old nature. We must reckon that old nature dead through forgiving, even when forgiveness is not asked for.
The root cause of bitterness, anger, stress and depression many times is found in the inability to forgive someone for something they did that ruined your life . If we can rise up and allow the love of Christ within us to manifest itself through forgiveness, we not only bless those we are forgiving but remove the cause of many bad things in our lives. Forgive and watch the change in your heart and mind transform you into the new creation we are in Christ.
Thank you and Blessings 2 You!
I have seen Pastor's and beloved brothers and sisters in Christ refuse to truly forgive. It destroys families, relationships and damages the soul of those that can't forgive. It can leave a bitterness that destroys the life of those who refuse to let it go more than the offense itself could possibly have done. To forgive the unforgivable is the greatest witness we may have of the life of Christ in us. Thank you. Phil