Thursday of Easter week, 1994, the most Christianized country in Africa became home to the continent's worst genocide. Rwanda, often idealized as the model nation for evangelism in Africa, descended into tragic darkness as Christians took up arms to kill other Christians, leaving over a million dead over 100 days. Emmanuel Katongole (raised by a Hutu mother and Tutsi father) describes how the Rwandan Genocide is a reflection of the deep brokenness found in the Church today - not solely in Africa, but in the West as well. Katongole helps us to understand how and why tribalism has unfortunately become an unquestioned feature in Christian practice today. He believes that by looking at what happened and why, we can find hope for the global body of Christ, and develop a Christian identity that bears witness to the hope of the Gospel and the peace of Christ.
We learn who we are as we walk together in the way of Jesus. So I want to invite you on a pilgrimage. Rwanda is often held up as a model of evangelization in Africa. Yet in 1994, beginning on the Thursday of Easter week, Christians killed other Christians, often in the same churches where they had worshiped together. The most Christianized country in Africa became the site of its worst genocide. With a mother who was a Hutu and a father who was a Tutsi, author Emmanuel Katongole is uniquely qualified to point out that the tragedy in Rwanda is also a mirror reflecting the deep brokenness of the church in the West. Rwanda brings us to a cry of lament on our knees where together we learn that we must interrupt these patterns of brokenness But Rwanda also brings us to a place of hope. Indeed, the only hope for our world after Rwandas genocide is a new kind of Christian identity for the global body of Christa people on pilgrimage together, a mixed group, bearing witness to a new identity made possible by the Gospel.
Emmanuel M. Katongole is associate research professor of theology and world Christianity in the Divinity School at Duke University and the co-director of the Duke Center for Reconciliation. He is a Catholic priest of the Kampala Archdiocese, Uganda.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is an associate minister at St. Johns Baptist Church. A graduate of Duke Divinity School, Jonathan is engaged in reconciliation efforts in Durham, North Carolina, directs the School for Conversion (newmonasticism.org), and is a sought-after speaker and author of several books. The Rutba House, where Jonathan lives with his wife, Leah, their son, JaiMichael, daughter, Nora Ann, and other friends, is a new monastic community that prays, eats, and lives together, welcoming neighbors and homeless. Find out more at jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com.