Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Friday, May 23, 2008

Amahoro Gathering - Day 3

The malaria seems to be under control. The dizzyness has all but gone and the fever comes and goes. I have been told the artemisinin treatment is strong and fast acting.

Today was another full on day. The morning featured presentations by local Christian organisations involved in the reconciliation process - uniting Hutu and Tutsi. We heard directly from Hutu perpertrators, including a lady who was fairly high up in the Hutu administration at the time of the genocide, a Hutu lady who was married to a Tutsi man who was killed in the genocide and a Tutsi woman who lost most of her family. I have never heard the tribal differences spoken about as openly. Previously I had been told that it is illegal to publically speak about the tribes in this way. The government is promoting one Rwandan people, and in the process pushing discussion of ethnic differences and opinion underground.

I met a Rwanda guy the other day at lunch who now lives in Sydney. He spoke about the reconciliation process in Rwanda and his own journey towards reconciliation. This was the first time he had been home to Rwanda in many years - he's lived in Australia for 12 years. He said the institutionalised form of reconciliation promoted by the Rwandan government was not working. Simply not mentioning the tribes has done nothing to heal the wounds and ethnic tensions still existed.

He hoped Amahoro would provide some answers to genuine reconciliation for Rwanda. Reconciliation from the heart and not from the government.

The feeling I get when I speak to Rwandans is the genocide may be 14 years in the past but the tensions that lead to it are still very real in the present.

The situation in Kenya was also addressed through a presentation led by a man I am privellaged to call a friend, Pastor Edward Simyu.

Like a Kenyan Martin Luther King, Edward led a convoy of Christians through the road blocks in January, risking his life in the process, to take Jesus message of reconciliation to the people behind the ethnic violence.

Edward introduced us to Joy, a Nairobi residence and member of his peace convoy to Eldoret. He also interviewed a number of Kenyans who had experienced the violence first hand. One guy, a pastor called Peter, still lives in a displaced persons camp as his home was destroyed.

There were different opinions on the source of the violence. One thought it was spontaneous - a direct result of the elections, another believed it was planned before hand as an act of ethnic cleansing. Whatever the cause, there is little doubt Kenya, like Rwanda before it, has a long road ahead.

I felt humbled and honoured when Edward asked me to pray for his country at the conclusion of his presentation.

Can the church be a part of the solution?

This was the question addressed by Brian McLaren in his presentation on pre-emptive reconciliation. Obviously it is too late to pre-empt the trouble that resulted in the Kenyan violence and the Rwandan genocide, but there is an oportunity for the church to act now. To be a part of the healing process. Bringing people together and promoting forgiveness.

McLaren portrayed the kingdom of God as standing over and above the kingdoms of the world. He described Jesus story as being superior to the stories of domination, revolution, purification, isolation, and alienation (I might try and expand on this a little later). Instead of domination McLaren says, Jesus calls us to servanthood, instead of revenge, reconciliation. Instead of purification (or ethnic cleansing), acceptance, healing and love. Instead of isolation, engagement.

As I think about everything that has taken place over the last few days I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I'm also feeling again like I am participating, in a very small way, in something big,something of global significance.

Today we head back to the guesthouse. The rest of the week will involve business meetings and trips to view projects we sponsor. We are also meeting with the Australian Ambassador to Kenya this afternoon. I hope to be able to discuss Australia's future involvement in Rwanda.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey mate, glad to hear you're feeling better. Greetings and Salutations from over here in Oz. I think one of the biggest issues facing all of us is the ability to recognise that we need to start doing things differently. Half the reason that no one changes is that there is a perception, probably bourne out of survival, that tells us that we're all right, it's the rest of them that have the problems, and once they get they're act together we'll all get on a lot better. It reminds me of dealing with a person who has an addiction, until they reach the stage of realisation that they need to change, nothings going to happen. Not to say we should give up, just that change is going to take time. Bro, I look forward to your return.
Super Shane.