Today, I continue my 100 day series remembering the twentieth anniversary of Rwandan genocide. Please join me in prayer for those lives lost and impacted in this tragedy. #NeverAgain. LMH
On April 26th, Pastor Rick Warren and the congregation of Saddleback Church welcomed a visit from Rwandan President Paul Kagame. During his remarks, at one point President Kagame addresses the role of the Catholic Church and other churches and religious leaders in the history of the genocide. (Please not that the following is my transcription of the video)
“Dear friends, during the genocide, almost every church betrayed its divine mission. Many sought refuge in houses of worship only to be delivered to their killers by the religious leaders. Rwandans were not only traumatized by loss and grief. Many also felt spiritually betrayed. Today, things are different.”
The message continues with a sense of hope and encouragement. This article at the Kwibuka20 website gives some insight into the positive nature of the relationship between Pastor Warren and President Kagame.
Introducing President Kagame, Pastor Rick Warren described his leadership as key to Rwanda’s development:
“I have never met a leader like Paul Kagame, he is an uncommon leader in an uncommon country. When the nation of Rwanda was destroyed to ashes, people said it can’t be done. But it was done and Rwanda confounded its critics. Rwanda has chosen forgiveness. They are not denying the pain, they are willing to work together and move forward.”
President Kagame pointed to reconstruction as one of Rwanda’s challenges over the last twenty years with the audience:
“The Genocide destroyed Rwanda’s social fabric which had been deliberately damaged over decades. Our work as a new nation in the last twenty years, has been about restoring social cohesion and the dignity of Rwandans.”
Addressing the criticism Rwanda has received over the years, Pastor Rick Warren:
“As Rwanda continues to be blessed, the criticism will ramp up, but Sibomana. Those critics are not God and Rwanda does not need their approval. God chose a nation the world turned its back on during its darkest hour to give the world a new model.”
Is it too outlandish for me to say that I’d love to see a similar meeting between President Kagame and Pope Francis?