Rwanda Journey – Day 6

The Last Day

Our report on the last day starts from the night before. We were the guests of the Bible Society of Rwanda who took us to a restaurant for an excellent meal and an evening of Rwandan culture. It was interesting going down a buffet line, not knowing what it was that I was about to put on my plate. Sometimes it’s better not to know!

After our meal we were entertained by a group of extremely energetic dancers accompanied by a drummer who must have lost several pounds during his performance! At the end, the dancers brought each of us on stage to dance with them. I am an old, very white Mennonite whose sense of rhythm is nonexistent.

On Thursday morning we took a short ride to the Genocide Memorial in Bugesera. I thought I’d share a little history before I proceed.

After the Hutu took control of the government in 1959, they began to move the Tutsi to Bugesera Province, south of Kigali. The area was bush and infested with the deadly tsetse fly which could infect people with African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). In a sense, this was the beginning of the genocide that would come to full blossom in 1994.

In 1992 the Hutu began to kill their Tutsi neighbours. The Tutsi discovered that if they fled to churches they would find sanctuary, but the situation changed in 1994. Ten thousand people came into a Roman Catholic Church in Bugesera. To say “they came in” is an over-simplification. Some were able to crowd into the building but most were in the churchyard, thinking they were safe. They were shocked when the Hutu militia barged into the church property and began killing there.

Anita and her sister were the only survivors in their family. But she has forgiven those who killed her family.

Anita was a young girl who had fled into the bush with her family. She snuck back to the church and saw the killing field. Her family was killed on the spot. As Anita tried to escape back to the bush, she was shot three times but managed to survive.

Before the genocide ended, the Hutu decided they would try and cover up what they had done. Large earth movers were brought in and a huge grave was dug. The bodies were pushed into the hole and then covered with lime before the hole was filled in. A huge unmarked grave!

After the Hutu were forced from power, it was decided that the bodies in the grave should be exhumed and given proper burial. When the bodies were uncovered however, they found out that because of the lime, there was no flesh left on the skeletons… Their clothing were taken into the church and placed on the pews. There they remain to this day.

We walked into the sanctuary of that church and saw clothing piled on the pews. We were asked not to take pictures out of respect to the victims. (The pictures here are from the internet and were not taken by our group). The altar cloth was still stained with the blood of the victims. In an underground crypt the skulls and femurs of many of the victims are stacked in piles.

Blood-stained Altar ClothUnderground Crypt

We were taken to the back of the sanctuary and were told that the children had been murdered by being thrown against brick walls. How can those images be expunged from my memory? They can’t and they shouldn’t. Like the Holocaust, this is something that must never be forgotten.

Anita is now a young woman and a guide at the memorial. We asked her if she had forgiven those who had killed her family and had tried to kill her. Her immediate response was: “Of course, I am a Christian.”

I have difficulty forgiving someone who has cuts in front of me in line, yet through She’s My Sister, the miracle of forgiveness continues unabated. God is still working and I am so pleased that we at the Canadian Bible Society are part of this miracle.

Len Bachiu

About the Author:

Len Bachiu is the Director of Ministry Advancement for Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He loves to write and share about his experiences through his blogsite, Keeping the Son in My Eyes – keepingthesoninmyeyes.wordpress.com.

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Final Day

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CBS in Rwanda

Follow our team’s journey through this series of blogposts. Read about their travel from Day 1 to Day 7

Please continue to pray for the staff of the Bible Society in Rwanda, their partners and the thousands of people reached by the programs, She’s My Sister and Where is the Good Samaritan?.

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