Lesson from Rwanda (8 Dec 2019)

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. How does a Tutsi Christian look like? How does a Hutu Christian look like? They cannot look exactly like the foreigners that brought them the Gospel can they? Discipleship in the Rwanda context has to address relevant questions of tribal loyalty and belonging, racial reconciliation, and forgiveness.

If the Christian life is not made relevant to the receivers through discipleship, if the everyday life and issues of the receivers 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? Knowing of the deep divide between the Hutu and the Tutsi population, should the discipleship of these Christians address this 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 Church, then the Church has ceased to be relevant to its soil.

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 cannot miss out the importance 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? Is the Word of God giving answers to the questions our society is asking? Do we hold on to a biblical perspective to guide us through the world we are living in?

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