When I boarded the airplane for Uganda, I did not know exactly why I felt called to go to Rwanda. Even as the bus drove across the border, it was not clear to me. Whatever I may have thought then, I am sure it was extremely naïve. Yet, I still do not thoroughly understand this odyssey that I am (still) on.

In Rwanda, I encountered evil—real, “hard-core” evil. And I saw many, many signs of hope. I marveled at people’s ability, in the midst of it all, not only to have faith in God, not only to love God, but to dance and sing God’s praise. I witnessed just how powerful fear can be, what it can make people do, and I heard and read incredible tales of courage, resistance and love.

In the end, I do not think I have any answers. The best I can offer are observations I think worthy of contemplation. Whereas I vow never to forget, I do not honestly see the transformation in society that would allow me to take seriously a vow of “never more.” Many have criticized the international community, the UN, the French, the US, and the Belgians and surely they all bear some responsibility for what happened in Rwanda. However, in the end, it was genocide of Rwandans by Rwandans in Rwanda.

Let My Country Awake

Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depths of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by You into ever widening thought and action—
Into that haven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore [1]


[1]Herbert F. Vetter, ed., The Heart of God, (Boston: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1997), p. 70