Friday, March 19, 2010

As They Forgive

At my university we have to attend these required events called CLPs which stands for Cultural Life Programs and we have to do 32 by the time we graduate. They're usually boring and they get progressively more difficult to sit through as it gets closer to the end of the year because people are desperate to get the required number so you have to go to whatever is offered. That's where I am right now, desperate for CLP's. So last night I went to see a movie (movie's are quality CLP's because they tend to be shorter and more entertaining than a speaker).

The film is As We Forgive and it is one of the most powerful stories of hope that I have heard in a long time and I just have to share it with you all because this is something that we all need to celebrate and learn from. I don't know how much you all know about the genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994 but my knowledge was pretty limited (I'd seen Hotel Rwanda and that's pretty much my only source). Here's the deal though, deep seeded conflict and ethnic tension between the Hutu and Tutsi lead to the slaughter of an estimated 1 million people (roughly 20% of the entire population) in less than 100 days. Neighbors killed neighbors, brutally in cold blood.

Maybe you already knew all this, but did you know that due to prison overcrowding, of the more the 100,000 people imprisoned "the government has returned over 60,000 genocide perpetrators back to the very communities they helped to destroy"? Did you know that the president of Rwanda is asking the unimaginable of his country: forgive the people who murdered your families.

Now former killers and victims are living as neighbors and moving towards reconciliation, finding peace through forgiveness. The movie focuses on two women who lost everyone they loved in the genocide. Both women have faced the men who killed their husbands, their fathers, and their children and they have forgiven them. The men came to these women with broken hearts wracked with shame and guilt and fear and asked on their knees to be forgiven, and just like our God forgives us for everything we do, these women forgave them.

Does this make your heart burst? Can you even imagine?
I just think about the people I struggle to forgive, or the things I've done that I don't feel deserve forgiveness. I think about our country, so divided by political and cultural differences and wonder what Rwanda's process of reconciliation can teach us?

For more information on the movie and on the reconciliation and divine forgiveness that is occurring in Rwanda, here are some links that I urge you all to check out:
(Living Bricks is a project started by the filmmakers and it "equips repentant genocide perpetrators with the tools to build much-needed housing for their victims' families, establishing new villages where former killers and survivors live together again as neighbors through practical reconciliation...To date, over 10,000 ex-prisoners have asked for the supplies to build these houses of hope. Living Bricks exists to make this happen.")

This is an amazing, encouraging story. Pass it on. Share it with friends.
"To err is human, to forgive divine." (Alexander Pope)

Have a very happy Friday! I hope everyone is having equally beautiful weather as we are!
Sincerely,
Shannon



5 comments :

  1. I have to be honest I had no idea of the magnitude of this event. My brother has a good friend from central Africa whose family would sleep with their shoes on because they never knew when a tribal war would occur. I respect Rwanda's president for encouraging words... that has to be so hard. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  2. I'm glad you got to see it...I sent your post to Mavis who has a special love for the people of Rwanda.

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  3. Shannon, what an amazing movie that must have been. Talk about ultimate forgiveness. That is incredible!! We all have a lot to learn from the movie. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I know you are excited about seeing your folks for Easter. Your sweet Mom sent me the most beautiful flowers for my birthday!! That just made my day! Love & blessings from NC!

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  4. I left you an award at my place, lady! Happy Monday!

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  5. Hi, Shannon -- What a powerful post! I bought this film... you're right, it's unimaginable to find a way to forgive such horror. But as I say, if Rwanda can do it, we ALL can do it. The Rwandan people are lovely. I'm sure I'll organize another trip there soon... wanna go??

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