Almost 20 years ago on the campus of Murray State University I watched news coverage of the beginnings of the Rwandan Genocide. Standing in the midst of fellow classmates we watched the reports of Rwandan’s seeking refuge to escape the brutality falling them. Over 100 days in April, May, June and July of 1994 more than 1,000,000 Rwandans were murdered by their neighbors, friends and co-workers. In the simplest of terms the Hutu majority constructed a campaign to eliminate the Tutsi minority. For my generation this would come to pass as the largest ethnic cleansing genocide of our lifetime.
This past week I found myself at my dining room table sharing pizza and chocolate chip cookies with new and old friends. My newest friend is Claude. Claude is a website developer from Rwanda. He and his wife emigrated from Rwanda two weeks ago and have settled in Dayton Ohio. Sitting at the far end of the table was my friend Laurent. Laurent’s family are Rwandan and he too has settled in Dayton Ohio. We discussed American food, weather, church, kids, family and work.
What made this evening special is that Claude’s tribal ancestry is Hutu. Laurent’s tribal ancestry is Tutsi. 20 years ago these two men would have been risking their lives to be in fellowship with one another. 20 years is not a long time to erase such a devastating event. These two men see each other now only as Rwandan brothers who are making a life in America for themselves and their family. I simply invited them over for pizza and soaked in the sight of forgiveness and a renewed pride for the homeland Rwanda. The Genocide and its after shocks are not forgotten or ignored, simply forgiven among men who have a common country and common hope for the future.
My wife, Melissa, is working with Laurent to plan a celebration of Rwanda’s progress since those dark days in 1994. Laurent’s vision is to pull together all of Dayton’s Rwandan population for an evening that celebrates the Love and Hope Rwandan’s hold of their future in spite of their history.
First Baptist Kettering has agreed to host this event where local Rwandan’s will share their music, their culture and most importantly their stories of what forgiveness can do for a nation in need of healing. Dayton Ohio has welcomed more Rwandan’s that most any other city in the United States and the East African community continues to grow. Many men and women from the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda were affected by the genocide and now are neighbors again here in Dayton
You are invited to join us on April 12th, 7:00 pm to share in this celebration. Opportunities to meet men and women who escaped the genocide will be on hand to tell their stories and share their love for Rwanda. Music, dance and stories will fill an evening that remembers the past and celebrates the bright future before Rwanda.
For more details on this event, visit our calendar.