Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meet Alarm

Everyone reading this should take a moment and check out ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries)

ALARM was started by our friend Celestin, who saw a great need for reconciliation and leadership after the genocide. Rwanda is about 90% Christian and yet many of them were involved in mass killing. I remember hearing in an anthropology class in seminary that Christianity is a mile wide and yet only an inch deep in Africa, in other words, many people take on the forms of Christianity, but that is about it. There is a powerful scene in the movie "Beyond the Gates" ( where the priest in a Rwandan village states, "People take communion because they are told to. Now they are killing each other because they are told to." He was referring to the fact that the people's faith was only an inch deep, it was not something that impacted every facet of their lives. ALARM seeks to train pastors and others throughout the 8 country region of Rwanda so that their faith will go much deeper and impact all of life. The next few posts will be some of initiatives started by ALARM to take things a bit deeper. Through meeting the folks of ALARM I have been challenged to look at the depth of my own walk with Jesus.
WEEP- Microfinance- Abanyarukundo

Our second day in Rwanda we started it off by meeting the women of WEEP. They greeted us with a song, which was beautiful. Shane tried to return the favor and sing them a song, but they all got scared and ran off (Just kidding). They shared a bit of their story. Many of the women had been raped and had lost loved ones during the genocide. Through this initiative they were beginning to put their lives back together. As you can see to the left, the women make their own clothes, baskets and soap. They also tie-dye some clothes which is pretty sweet.

It was inspiring to hear their stories. In the face of great adversity they were again finding meaning in what they could produce and sell. With the money they are collecting, they are also able to help several of their neighbors (many widows) as well. They informed us that after the genocide there were many, many kids that had been orphaned. It was not uncommon for folks to take in the kids and begin raising them as their own. Their logic was simple... if it had been one of my kids I would have wanted the same. As a result there are some pretty big families and provisions can be hard to come by at times.

Before we left, I told the women that I would tell my girls about them, and that they were real sheroes. I think about all the things people whine about here in the States (myself included) and yet these women experienced suffering and pain in a way I hope I never have to. Yet they are the embodiment of hope! They see a brighter future in Rwanda and in our world, and such hope inspires me.
- chris lahr
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