Beauty from Ashes
Beauty From Ashes
The distant and sporadic crackle of kalashnikovs had become so common that it had become subdued amongst the chirping birds and sputtering autos. It’s a bizarre feeling sitting on a balcony overlooking picturesque Lake Kivu in the DRC knowing the ongoing sheer darkness that had engulfed her streets and countrysides over the past several years. How many of the six million victims to date had been strewn about the very streets on which we so frequently traveled. How many folks had we come in contact with that had participated in the demonic savagery of genocide before blending back into the populous? Every farmer wielding a machete, a common site, caused my mind to wander back to the tragic images and shattered piles of human remains I’d seen in Rwanda’s genocide memorial. Could these blades that now hacked sugar cane and vegetation be the same tools of evil that once hacked at human flesh? I recall seeing many people my age walking the streets bearing terrible scars. Thinking back to the onset of the genocide I’d come to the sobering realization that many of these people had likely been sustaining the wounds at the same time that I’d been sitting in my kindergarten class in Virginia. While my biggest concern was coloring within the lines, they were fighting for survival and witnessing things of unimaginable brutality. I was there to bring the gospel to this country and instead found myself asking the question that I’d answered for others many times. Why would God allow such a thing.” It was an inward struggle rivaled by few others for me… and I was just a spectator. Reconciliation came in forms so powerful that my words cannot describe them. Though victims of such atrocities, I saw a faith, a joy, and a peace amongst these people that I’d not experienced anywhere else. Though victims of savagery, they walked as victors. Where I expected to see chains of anguish, I rather saw liberty and freedom that could only be facilitated by divine grace. There are no words to describe a widow’s fervent prayer for the forgiveness and redemption of the very men who had brutalized her and slaughtered her children before her eyes. How profound the viewing of villagers adorned with true joy as they gave thanks to a God they knew as merciful, even in the wake of such tragedy. The term “beauty from ashes” took on an entirely new meaning. Amidst things that I feared would tarnish my soul forever, I found grace in it’s purest form. I saw the result of the authentic yielding of hearts to Messiah Jesus. The very people to whom I’d come to minister had in fact become ministers to me.