The Rwandan Genocide: Faith Defying Fear and Death

Humans of New York (@humansofny) is a site that goes around the world seeking out people with extraordinary stories. For the past couple of months, humansofny has been in Africa and has interviewed people in Nigeria, Ghana, Cairo and most recently, Rwanda.

But in the midst of all these stories, the most jaw-dropping ones came from Rwanda. If for some reason you never heard of the Rwandan Genocide, let me give a brief summary of the happenings.

The Rwandan Genocide was a mass slaughter of the Tutsi by the members of the Hutu who were the majority, during the Rwandan Civilian War which begun in 1990. The genocide was directed by members of the Hutu in government and lasted for a period of 100 days (from April 7th to Mid-July 1994).

The genocide occurred because the Hutu-led government party had issues with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which was made up of Tutsi refugees whose families had fled to Uganda. Conspiracy theories against the Tutsi spread and Hutu’s were encouraged to take up arms against their Tutsi neighbours. Checkpoints were erected and anyone who’s ID indicated being from the Tutsi was killed. Tutsi’s were dragged from their homes, schools, and churches and killed in cold blood.

This went on for a period of 100 days until the RPF captured Kigali thus bringing an end to the genocide.

I would very much encourage you to read further on the Rwandan Genocide because it is way more than whatever summary I can ever give, Wikipedia articles or blog posts. It’s unbelievable how people will turn against one another for the most trivial reasons.

Lest we forget, the war also affects individuals. Unfortunately, it is very easy to most times separate the individuals from the action of war because we are mostly presented with the actions of the military, meanwhile, it is those parts we do not see that are most affected.

In the Instagram post by @humansofny (see here), a pastor was interviewed and he told of how he was able to hide members of the Tutsi in his church. In the first post, he stated that he was always invited to the meetings where discussions were going on about how to kill the Tutsi. So I’ll put two and two together and say that he must have been Hutu. This means that he had the choice to completely separate himself from the killings, chill at home with his family and do absolutely nothing, but he didn’t.

If our God is true, we will be OK” was what he said to the people who sought shelter in his church. This reminds me of Daniel and his friends when they were to bow to the graven image put up by King Nebuchadnezzar. They had complete faith in God, and he came through for them.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve they gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up”. – Daniel 3:17-18 (KJV)

The other three posts tell of how he faced opposition and was given the wisdom to go through everything that happened for the period of three weeks when they were in hiding. To the glory of God, every single person that was hidden in the church survived, until they were rescued by the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

“The killers belonged to our congregation, and we could have held them back. But instead, we did nothing. Every pastor had a different excuse. Some said they didn’t know things would get so bad. Some said they were too afraid, and some said the government was too powerful to oppose.

But when you’re standing aside while people die, every excuse is a lame one.”

I won’t even begin to talk about how the killers were part of the congregation, because that is a story for another day, and frankly, I’m shook! 

What I’d like to dwell on is how we as believers ought to stand up for each other, stand up for the truth.

I mean, if people in the world go as far as facing the worse punishments just because they do not want to snitch on a murdering, drug-peddling friend, how much more we who are believers. I’m sure every pastor who chose to look the other way must have been riddled with guilt.  

Our bond is solidified by our relationship in Christ. We became family when we received the gospel. We share a common belief, we worship together, break bread together, fellowship together, counsel one another, very often marry within ourselves and yet we dare choose to look the other way when our brethren are being tormented??? THAT SHOULD NEVER BE THE CASE!

Worse still, we choose to take part in afflicting the torment.

Thankfully, we may not find ourselves in situations as severe as the Rwandan Genocide, but in our own little ways we can always stand up for our Christian brethren.

Refuse to partake in sharing lewd jokes. Someone is being bullied in school, you speak up, someone is being fat-shamed, you stand up and talk sense into the shamers. Join causes to help stand up for those being oppressed. However, we should do all our correcting in love so that we do not create an opportunity for more conflict.

I pray the Holy Spirit emboldens us to stand strong for others in the faith.

But when you’re standing aside while people die, every excuse is a lame one. - @humansofny Share on X
Featured Image credit – @humanofny

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