I hope for Reconciliation in 2016.
I went out with a group of Rwandans and Americans last night in Portland. As we talked, I marveled at how much judgment and separation exists within our epic 15 year journey of “ministry” relationships. I hear stories within stories of pain and division among people who had formerly participated in a ministry to help others. However, within each person in the story, I also see goodness: love and compassion and a yearning not to be distant and wounded.
I wonder why, in a big, diverse family of people who love Jesus, we cannot find the way to draw near to each other with acts of love, instead of withdraw from each other with words of judgment?
I admit that my mistakes contributed to some of the brokenness in this community. I am sorry for the pain my actions caused. I wonder if my failure should disqualify me from receiving love from people in this community? Is God’s desire for this story to leave us in a state of splintered relationships?
My hope for 2016 is reconciliation among this special family of Rwandan-American relationships.
This past few months I have been learning about reconciliation and it’s terrifying. Reconciliation is a scary, humbling step beyond forgiveness. Forgiveness is an enormously difficult and powerful act. Reconciliation is a miracle that can follow forgiveness.
I’ve come to believe that the person wronged should take the first step, and that’s counter intuitive. I feel greatly wronged in our long convoluted Rwanda-America story. I feel let down by people I thought loved me or who I saw as spiritual leaders. I couldn’t imagine that my job could be to push through my pain and show the person who wronged me that I love them. I felt entitled to hold onto my pain. I feared that if I show love to someone who wronged me, I am telling the world they didn’t do what I believe they did.
I looked to Jesus and saw a different model. Jesus extended the offer of reconciliation to those who unjustly accused him and killed him. He didn’t wait for people to realize what they had done. Instead He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” And he extended an invitation to the worst sinners, to draw near to Him into relationship. The great news is that we don’t have to be cleaned up to accept His offer. We don’t have to fix everything we broke. We don’t have to be correct, or justified, or theologically aligned, or a donor or the change maker. We don’t have to bring anything to Jesus. We are simply welcomed to Him.
I recently took a small but very scary step to show love to someone who hurt me. The action felt like a catalyst. I believe that God will move through my feeble effort and bring more healing than I can imagine.
I pray that a miracle of reconciliation will start to spread in my Rwandan-American community in 2016. Everyone one of you who is part of this story, I encourage you to take a tiny step of love toward someone who has caused you pain. We don’t have to know where it leads. We don’t have to untangle this ourselves. Jesus will do the hard work, if we show a willingness to participate.
A dear Rwanda friend, Pastor Elisee, spoke the most powerful words I heard in 2015. He said to me, “Love Initiates.”
In 2016, my prayer is that Love Initiates Reconciliation. Serena Morones
(Please share among those in the community.)