A Tale of Rwanda
Wayne, his wife and his church small group had just returned from a two-week mission trip to Rwanda, and he was obviously very excited and very moved by the experience. Wayne is a strongly spiritual man, but the Spirit appeared to be particularly forceful in him as he told of the experience.
There was much that was moving. Their group was in a small, rural town of subsistence farmers. The only place they could stay was a Roman Catholic nunnery, and the nuns should have seen this group of evangelicals as a threat to the tenuous hold Rome has on the country. But they were the living symbol of warmth; caring and feeding their guests with kindness and sacrifice.
Wayne talked of the poverty, of the people who walked miles each Sunday to the primitive church -- people who were poor, who had all been deeply hurt by the genocide -- yet they sang and danced so joyfully.
"As they danced on the church's dirt floor, they kicked up dust and it rose into the light, illuminating beams that washed around them," Wayne said. "It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."And here is the tale. The pastor they were visiting had established Saddleback Church's purpose-driven principles in his church, including the creation of small groups. Wayne and his team visited each of the small groups to encourage them and answer questions about the workings of small groups and the "Purpose Driven" church. Paraphrasing:
"One night, we were in someone's home. The entire house was about the size of this room (15' X 15') and we were all in it, the small group members and their children were about 20 people in all, and the pastor, and our small group.Oh, my. Here I am, still holding a grudge against my step mother for the way she treated my wife 26 years ago, and still not at peace with a former employee who left with a number of our best clients six years ago.
"Theirs was a lot like our own small groups. Everyone was caring for everyone else and supporting them, and there was a lot of laughter and compassion. At the end of the evening, the pastor asked four people to stand up, and they did -- a girl in her 20s standing next to a man in his late 30s or early 40s, and another girl and man of the same age spread.
"'This girl,' said the pastor, 'saw her entire family killed by Hutus during the genocide. And this is the man who killed them. It is the same for this girl and this man. Forgiveness has been asked and forgiveness has been given.'
"We had seen them during the evening as one cohesive small group, working together and caring for each other -- but only then did we see the gap that could have divided them. But it didn't. It was in part the nature of the Rwandan people, which is forgiving, and in part the nature of God's church, which also teaches forgiveness."
There is so much power in forgiveness, so much self-inflicted pain in resentment, and such a clear path directing us to forgive. Yet, unencumbered by the sort of pain those Rwandan young women have title to, many of us think we will find more comfort in resentment than in forgiveness.
It's foolishness! We're not asked to forgive and forget; we're asked to forgive and learn, and grow, and find peace, and spread that self-peace to others through our action.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the whole purpose driven thing, here's the purpose-driven declaration, which is very good stuff:
Today I am stepping across the line. I’m tired of waffling and I’m finished with wavering, I’ve made my choice, the verdict is in, and my decision is irrevocable. I’m going God’s way. There’s no turning back now!
I will live the rest of my life serving God’s purposes with God’s people on God’s planet for God’s glory. I will use my life to celebrate his presence, cultivate his character, participate in his family, demonstrate his love, and communicate his Word.
Since my past has been forgiven, and I have a purpose for living, and a home awaiting in heaven, I refuse to waste any more time or energy on shallow living, petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful resenting, or faithless worrying. Instead I will magnify God, grow to maturity, serve in ministry, and fulfill my mission in the membership of his family.
Because this life is preparation for the next, I will value worship over wealth, “we” over “me,” character over comfort, service over status, and people over possessions, position, and pleasures. I know what matters most, and I’ll give it all I’ve got. I’ll do the best I can with what I have for Jesus Christ today.
I won’t be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by problems, debilitated by temptation, or intimidated by the devil. I’ll keep running my race with my eyes on the goal, not the sidelines or those running by me. When times get tough, and I get tired, I won’t back up, back off, back down, back out, or backslide. I’ll just keep moving forward by God’s grace. I’m Spirit-led, purpose driven, and mission-focused, so I cannot be bought, I will not be compromised, and I shall not quit until I finish the race.I’m a trophy of God’s amazing grace, so I will be gracious to everyone, grateful for every day, and generous with everything God entrusts to me.
To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I say, "However, whenever, wherever, and whatever you ask me to do, my answer in advance is yes! Wherever you lead and whatever the cost I’m ready. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyway. Whatever it takes, Lord; whatever it takes! I want to be used by you in such a way, that on that final day I’ll hear you say, 'Well done, thou good and faithful one. Come on in, and let the eternal party begin!'"