Lesson From Rwanda (25 Aug 2013)

Today, close to 90% of the people in Rwanda are Christians. With that kind of percentage, we can almost call them a Christian nation. However, whenever the name Rwanda is mentioned, what do people think of?

Yes, many will inevitably remember the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’. And that leads us to remember the Rwanda Genocide in 1994. A mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people. It was wrought from a deep sense of animosity between the Hutu and the Tutsi population that found its roots back to the 1850s. One can only wonder how much hatred and anger has been accumulated through the years. And the eruption that finally came was an expression of extreme violence.

If we don’t know about the background of Christianity in Rwanda, we may associate the large percentage growth of Christianity in Rwanda as the aftermath of the Rwanda Genocide in 1994, where maybe violence shocked the nation into seeking refuge and healing in God. But the truth is, the startling high percentage of Christianity was already close to 90% in 1991, before the Rwanda Genocide. So what happened?

We cannot only bring a message of the Gospel without following it up with discipleship. Discipleship in the Rwanda context has to address relevant questions of tribal loyalty and belonging, racial reconciliation and forgiveness. Knowing of the deep divide between the Hutu and the Tutsi population, should not the discipleship of these Christians in Rwanda address the very real issue of social divide and hatred? If the Church is not seen as the place where reconciliation takes place, if the breaking of such divide or barrier is not happening in the Churches of Rwanda, then these Churches have ceased to be relevant to its soil.

If the Christian life is not made relevant to believers through discipleship, if the everyday life and issues of the believers are not challenged in the light of the Gospel, how then can the power of Christ be experienced in all its fullness as a living reality?

I see this incident as a stark reminder for us as a Church in Singapore. While it is important to learn about overseas cross-cultural mission, while it is important to remember that we can do evangelism to people of other culture right at our doorstep, we must undergird everything we do with a strong emphasis of discipleship. Discipleship to me is the bridging of the gap between the Bible and the realities of daily living. What are the issues that stand in the way of making us matured Christians living in Singapore? Do we hold on to a biblical perspective to guide us through the world we are living in?

Let us again be reminded of the prayer of Jesus Christ for us in the Gospel of John. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world… Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:15,17)

As we grow and learn to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our own discipleship journey must challenge and transform us to be obedient to Scriptures. Our call to be a disciple of Christ is a call to live in this world with a biblical perspective of the Truth.

Brother Samuel Lim