As part of my preparation for attending Cape Town 2010 I’ve been reading the advance papers. The latest is Rediscovering the Gospel of Reconciliation by Antoine Rutayisire. Below are a few highlights and then my comments.
Antoine writes a very honest paper on the context of the Rwandan church and the journey of reconciliation that has been taking place in Rwanda through the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide.
She starts with the sad facts that in the 1991 census Rwanda was 89% Christians and yet from this ethnic hostility could explode into a genocide where more than 1,000,000 people were brutally massacred, and as Antoine says, often inside church buildings and in many cases, with the participation of clergy members. So she finishes her introduction asking the question:
What went wrong with our Christianity?
Antoine explains that much of the reason has to fall on the shoulders on the colonial mission which ignored the differences between the Hutus, the Tutsis and Twas, instead favouring the Tutsis over the other two groups. In addition instead of a faith linked into the reality of everyday life which is the general model of spirituality in Africa we see an intellectual presentation based on Bible knowledge.
This presents big challenges to the UK who were partly responsible for this, how often do we forget to culturally engage before we share faith. In the work I do with children and young people this is still incredibly important, if we don’t take the time to engage their culture then we come from an arrogant stand point of expecting people to come to the church. I believe evangelism has to be more incarnational, based on relationship which gives credibility and authority to the opportunities presented to a Christian to share faith.
I loved Antoine’s closing point:
It is when the church of Christ will live in love and unity that great things will happen in our nations.