This morning I had the rare privilege of sharing breakfast with a pastor from Rwanda, a man who has seen and known God at work in ways I have never known. In the past I’ve written about Catherine Claire Larson’s book, As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda. In it she tells story after story of the horrors of genocide there, and of the glory of reconciliation and restoration in Christ since then. The country itself had been savagely ripped in two, but the power of Christ is healing it on every level.
It is a process, of course. This pastor, whose name I did not ask permission to use, lost a sister and her seven children to the murderous rage there. He has five sons now, he told me, but really 90 children in all since he and his wife are taking care of 85 orphans. The dying has not even ended yet, even 16 years after the violence: women are dying of AIDS they contracted when they were raped. There is much remaining to be healed.
This pastor walks in some of the most challenging paths of reconciliation. His ministry is in Rwandan prisons; and prison ministry in Rwanda is like nowhere else, for many of the inmates are there following convictions for participating in the genocide. If there were one likely focal point for anger and revenge, that would be it. But the pastor is there to minister, to serve, and to bring the love of Christ. I saw no trace of bitterness in him as he told his story, but only grace.
Rwanda’s move toward recovery is a miracle. If you haven’t read the book, I urge you to do so. But I wanted to ask the pastor about yet another kind of miracle. Ever since I heard J.P. Moreland speak (mp3 file) of the church’s growth worldwide through signs and wonders, it has been my practice to ask Christians from around the world whether they see God working that way in their countries. His reply was almost matter-of-fact; though not without appreciation for the power of God. He told me of his own struggle with an incurable eye disease that was progressing toward blindness. At the time he was aware of Christianity; but he spent three days in a complete fast from food and water, not praying for healing but for God to show him who God really was. On the third day his eyes were suddenly healed, and he heard God’s call for him to enter ministry at the same time.
Not long ago he was ministering in a prison whose population numbered 7,000 inmates, with no doctors or nurses to care for them. After presenting them the message of Christ, he prayed for them, and a man who had been blind for five years shouted out, “I can see! I can read my Bible!”
I expect some readers to respond, “This is an unnamed man reporting uncorrobated miracles on another continent. Where’s the evidence?” In Mark 2 Jesus faced an almost reverse question, but it’s relevant regardless. He had told a paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven.” The religious leaders around him asked each other, “Who does he think he is to forgive sins?!” Jesus knew what was on their minds. He asked them, “Which is easier, to say ‘your sins are forgiven, or rise, take up your pallet and walk’?” Then he turned to the paralytic and spoke a word of healing, and the man rose and walked.
Miracles of healing are marvelous, but to me they are no more amazing than the miracles of restoration and forgiveness taking place in Rwanda—which are well substantiated (read the book, or look through the prior articles in this series). Which is easier? Neither, in my view. Yet God is doing both.
For more on prison ministry in Rwanda, visit Prison Fellowship Rwanda’s main website or blog.
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