AFRICAN UPDATE – MARCH, 2001
(Rwanda – Blood on a Thousand Hills)
Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills. Its beautiful, mountainous terrain, however, belies the horrors that have transpired there. I had read about the genocide before going, and I felt I was somewhat prepared regarding what to expect. How wrong I was! It really was not until our last three to four days there that the impact of what happened hit me so heavily.
We had previously been ministering to pastors in a town that was only about a mile from the Congolese border. In fact, our host pastor had really wanted us to travel into the DRC, but we did not feel it wise, so our meetings were planned for Ginsenyi, the nearest community in Rwanda. In addition to the Rwandese attendees, more than a hundred Congolese pastors and their families crossed the border to join us for the seminar. Their coming reminded me so much of the exodus of the children of Israel. Pastor John Paul Mungunga modeled the role of Moses perfectly. He is one of the meekest, wisest, yet strongest men I know. He had to “rescue” his people when they were detained at the border due to suspicions regarding their mass exodus. Day after day, they all (men, women, and children) ate and slept on the church property between meetings. I was greatly impressed with their hunger for more of God and with their willingness to sacrifice so much to be there. How I prayed that they would not be disappointed — that they would receive even more than what they expected! I did not believe that God would have had all of us travel the distance that we did, coming together as we did, without proving Himself mighty on our behalf. It was a time ordained by Him, and He had given us the Word for the hour. In His faithfulness, He did minister to the people through the Word and in deed. We ended our time together in a great anointing service in which the people were sent out with healing and with the impartation of God’s mantle of anointing for authority and dominion. His Word to them was that even as He used Esther to change the course of history, He is going to do something significant through them that will change the course of history in their part of the world. That Word agreed wholeheartedly with the prophetic Word our team received twice before going that a great spiritual explosion was going to take place there after our leaving. We are praying for the fulfillment of that Word, and waiting expectantly!
Our last few days were spent in Kigali, the capital. While there, we ministered in daily meetings on behalf of Women’s Aglow. As the messages of healing, deliverance, and activation to service went forth, the women received from the hand of God. The Lord encouraged them to get out into the River of His Spirit that is flowing from His throne (Ezekiel 47). His River is teeming with life, and He wants them (and us) to get out far enough and deep enough so that their feet cannot touch the bottom and their hands cannot reach the shore. He does not want them dependent upon anything or anyone besides Him. He wants them to fully rest in His flow, allowing Him to take them where He wants them to go. As we left our last meeting, the leader said how she wished we had more time together to get in and stay in the River. May the Father continue to draw them in Jesus’ name!
During our last full day before departing, we were blessed to meet with and encourage the students at the Cornerstone Vision Bible College. Afterward, the Lord made it possible for us to visit one of the many genocide memorial sites. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply saddening it was to walk in the same places where literally thousands of dead, mutilated bodies once laid. The site was a Catholic church many miles outside of Kigali. We were told that prior to 1994, the year of the great genocide, deaths were already occurring in a covert fashion. Tutsis were being horded to Nyamata, a low lying area that is heat, snake, mosquito, and disease infested. Although it was known by few, many had been exterminated in that village before that fateful day when 20,000 were brutally massacred and murdered in the Catholic church. They locked themselves inside, but the soldiers used hand grenades to blast their way into the people. The floors and particularly the roof looked like a sieve because of all the shrapnel. Even though the church has not been used, and probably will never be used, for worship, the parish priest ordered the sanctuary to be cleaned. Even so, traces of blood could be seen along the walls, the floor, and the altar.
Underneath the sanctuary, we were shown a crypt that was erected following the genocide. Of the dead, one person was entombed. A woman of 24, she had been repeatedly raped and pierced internally with a shaft from her torso to her neck. She was left to die, shaft in place. After the tragic chaos subsided, and some of the surviving priests began the long process of identification and burial of the bodies, they found this woman with a baby lying on top of her miraculously undecayed body. It was decided that she would be entombed as a lone representative of the masses who lost their lives in that village. All around the casket were the skulls, all neatly arranged in rows, and bones of others who had departed in much the same way. Many of the skulls were broken and cracked, showing signs of the brutality that their owners had suffered from the machetes, clubs, and swords.
Outside the church, we were taken to two mass graves with steps that led one down into underground “hallways” that housed more neatly sorted and arranged skulls and bones. At that point, even though we were so overwhelmed with the reality of what had happened, not only there but also all over Rwanda, we felt to pause for prayer and meditation. When asked to pray, I could not. There were no words to express what was in my heart. As the others prayed, and I gained my composure, the only thing I could say was, “Lord, if it be possible, please redeem all that has happened in this nation for your glory.”
God is doing a redemptive work in Rwanda. It truly is a testimony to His goodness and His love. It is a slow process, and the work is not complete, but healing and reconciliation are taking place. The Rwandese are a very courageous and noble people. They have turned to God in their sorrow, and He is pouring in His oil and His wine. He is giving them beauty for ashes. He miraculously intervened last year, during a very precarious time in their history, and maintained peace when their Hutu President resigned and was replaced by the Tutsi Vice-President. Many were holding their breaths, waiting to see if the enemy would use this very delicate situation to send war and upheaval to a previously broken people. Praise God! His peace prevailed, and the restoration is going forth!
Paul admonishes us, in the Lord, by saying, “I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, and beg of you, in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies — presenting all your members and faculties — as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). I saw this literally lived in Rwanda. As I considered my own life and the church here in America, my heart was smitten with grief and repentance. We are so petty and self-indulged. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world are facing life and death situations every day, while we complain and argue about insignificant, temporal things that will pass away. We are so caught up with the trivialities of our own lives, indulging ourselves in fleshly gratifications, entertaining and tolerating the flirtations and strongholds of the devil, that we are not able to see, much less help, those who are in so much need of the salvation and the hope of the Lord.
God has called us as kings and priests to rule and reign in this life, as well as in the one to come. He has bigger battles for us to fight than the ones we are fighting in our own lives. He wants us to get victory in our own lives so that we can fight on higher levels. How can we fight and win the battle that is being fought over our own nation when we cannot even win the battle in our own lives? His plan is a global plan — a universal plan. He wants us to be able to lift up our eyes from our own little worlds and see the bigger picture.
As I thought about these things, my heart cried out to God. It still cries out, “God help us! Forgive us for letting the little foxes spoil our vines. Help us to deal with the enemy in our lives. Help us to rid ourselves of his strongholds and influences so that we may be able to enter your spiritual service at higher levels that will impact the history of the earth for Your kingdom’s sake. Turn our hearts wholeheartedly toward You. Cause us to keep our eyes on You, never wavering in our total commitment to You, Your people, and Your kingdom’s work. Give us eyes to see what You are doing and what You long to do in the earth today. May we be part of that. May we be used by You to impact families, cities, and nations. May we be used by You to upset the plans of the evil one and to change the course of history. Let us declare, ‘We will arise and fulfill our destiny. We will arise and accomplish Your will, O God. We will arise in mighty victory. We will arise. We will arise!’ in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!”
AFRICAN UPDATE – MARCH, 2001