Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blood on their hands: Benjamin's story

On our way to one of the genocide sites, Benjamin told us his story. When the killings began in April of 1994, his wife was pregnant, and the baby decided it was time to come out! He told us he has a clearer understanding of what the Scriptures are talking about when it tells us to pray that the apocalypse won't occur during pregnancy! Having no choice they left for the hsopital. When they arrived at a road block (many of them were set up throughout Rwanda), rather than being harrassed and killed, they happened to know his wife. Seeing that she was giving birth they let them go. They said it was a miracle. In fact, Benjamin said that during the genocide he saw heaven and he saw hell. One minute there would be a miracle, the next a demonic invasion.

After the baby was born, they made it back home. A couple weeks passed and they were very hungry. Benjamin left the house in search of food. He was arrested. Again, someone recognized him, and knew that he was a pastor, so they let him go because they did not want a pastor's blood on their hands. Benjamin informed us that all of the missionaries, and foreign workers (all white) fled during the genocide. I wonder what would ahve happened if they stayed? Sure many would have died? Maybe some would have been saved, since obviously some of the killers were worried about who's blood they had on their hands.

Blood on their hands. Its a very interesting thought. Why did they care whether or not a pastor's blood was on their hands. For some killers they obviously didn't care, being that several pastors, nuns, etc were killed, and some raped. The Hutu's had a word for the Tutsi's which translated into "cockroaches." Again a form of tribalism>> to dehumanize "the other." When we begin calling other human beings names, such as: cockroaches, terrorists, commies, the evil ones, scum, etc. we dehumanize them, making it a lot easier to kill them. This is a sign of tribalism that we all need to be aware of! When we hear these sort of things coming out of Washington, or out of own own mouths, we must beware that tribalism does not rear its ugly head, and eventually turn us into "monsters."

Benjamin then took his family and miraculously made it to another village, where someone heroically hid them. Another couple weeks passed, and once again they were hungry. On another search for food, he was captured again. He was handcuffed and placed in an abandoned building ready to be killed. He told us that in some places they had people (often teens) that would "specialize" in the killing. These particular folks were getting high at the moment, and he was told they were on their way to kill him.

He prayed with every ounce in his being. I am sure he prayed with as much fervency as the 5,000 people who died at Ntarama, and the 10,000 people who were murdered in Nyamata. There he was, alone, afraid, with pictures of his family going through his mind, he was preparing to die. Suddenly his bishop (Free Methodist church) walked by! His bishop was well respected in the community and walked around freely, even though he did not approve of what was going on. The bishop asked why they had Benjamin tied up? They told him that Benjamin did not have the required ID papers, and that he was probably a trader, deserving death! The bishop laid into them. He informed them that he was a pastor, and asked if they wanted Benjamin's blood, a pastor, on their hands? They did not.

They released him, and eventually he got back home (with some food). Through some more miracles, he was able to escape to the Congo, and then to Kenya, where he and his family remained until this year, when they moved back to Rwanda to work with Alarm!
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