Last Sunday I got to attend a meeting of an orphan care group at a local church. They invited Jean Claude, a survivor of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, to speak to their group about his experience during the genocide and his efforts to care for the orphans and vulnerable children of his home country. If you don’t know much about the Rwanda genocide, let me fill you in. In 1994 in the span of just over 100 days, over 1 million men, women and children were murdered in Rwanda in ways that push the limits of human cruelty. Many people were hacked to death with machetes and women raped so brutally that they died. The Hutus tried to wipe out the Tutsis, even though they were neighbors and had shared a country for hundreds of years. Although the United Nations had troops on the ground, they chose not to intervene (one of the great failures of modern humanity if you ask me). The genocide in Rwanda ranks right up there with the European Holocaust and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
As a kid I was very interested in the Holocaust, and I still am. Genocide has always intrigued me because I can’t understand how it happens. How do neighbors hack each other to death with machetes or watch children loaded onto cattle cars like animals? What has to happen to a person to turn them into a killing machine? I jumped at the chance to meet Jean Claude.
His story was heart breaking and even now, 19 years later, he still had to pause and regain his composure before telling us about the death of his 16 year old sister. Jean Claude hid when a group of men armed with machetes, hammers and spears came to his home to kill his family. His father was hacked into pieces just a few feet from his hiding place. His sister was raped by the group of men and then left to bleed to death. Jean Claude lived to tell his story and now he uses his life to advocate for orphans in Rwanda. He runs the Best Family Rwanda home for orphans and other vulnerable children. This is a video about their work.
This week’s $5 went to Best Family Rwanda. Such a worthy cause- caring for those who have no one to care for them! His message of forgiveness is something we all need to hear. If he can forgive the murder of his family, what do you and I need to move on from?