“…the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.” – Blue Jazz. Don Miller
This weekend Andrews University a Seventh-day Adventist institution, hosted its first annual Summit on Social Consciousness – Lessons from Rwanda It was a weekend that caused much introspection for many, and I was not exempt.
The keynote speaker was Carl Wilkens(the former head of ADRA in Rwanda and speaker for WorldOutSideMyShoes a non profit organization. He was the only American that stayed in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994. 1 million people lost their lives in 100 days.
During Sabbath school time me and my Wife interviewed Carl and his wife Teresa. They shared how they made the decision to stay, they shared what life was like for Carl in the 100 days of the savage carnage, as neighbor killed neighbor, and church member killed church member. Yet Carl refused to share just the horror, he shared during the interview and his keynote address, the stories of hope that pierced through the thick gunk of incomprehensible evil. Carl did not stay to be a hero, he stayed to help his two neighbors. That’s it. He did not know that in staying to help his neighbors he would be used to save over 500 lives.
Below are a few points that he shared with us that caught my attention, here they are in no particular order:
- “Stories and acts of service are our most powerful tools to break down prejudice and build bridges of unity.”
- “Genocide stems from thinking that says ‘My world would be better without you in it, You and your kind”
- “Freedom is discovered when we encounter “The Other”, or Freedom is threatened when we encounter “The Other” The choice is ours.”
I had to ask myself what seeds I had in my heart. Do I have seeds of genocide ( ‘My world would be better without you in it, You and your kind) or am I cultivating seeds that embrace “The Other.” I have been wrestling with these questions because we all know that “a man reaps what he sows.” I do not want a crisis to peel back the produce of my heart and be mortified by the revelation. It’s in times like this that we realize that the epicentre of God’s eternal character is distilled in this:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”