—by the Rev. Mark Rabe
Twenty-five years ago, Rwanda saw its darkest days as friends, neighbors, and family members rose up against one another in a genocide that has left lasting effects upon the nation. The physical and emotional scars in this predominately Christian country serve as reminders of the need for hope, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The Lutheran Mission in Africa—Synod of a Thousand Hills (LMA-STH) is a new Lutheran church body in Rwanda. This five-year-old church body asked the LCMS for training in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and reconciliation. Rev. Shauen Trump, area director for East and South Africa, contacted Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AoR). Trump knew the AoR could bring the two requests together since AoR teaches their forgiveness and reconciliation seminars based on the Small Catechism.
For four days in March, and for the first time in the LMA-STH’s short history, all the pastors and their wives gathered in Rwamagana, Rwanda. Ted Kober and Dwight Schettler of AoR led a seminar on “Forgiveness and Reconciliation.”
They conducted the seminar in two parts: “Go and be Reconciled: What does this mean?” and “Coaching through Conflict.” The seminar led the pastors and their wives through biblical forgiveness and reconciliation. The seminar included teaching and practicing reconciliation techniques. Pastors and wives not only learned how to be reconcilers, they also personally learned the joy of being forgiven in Christ and empowered to forgive others. It was four days of hearing and sharing the Gospel and receiving Christ’s forgiveness.
While there have been many seminars on reconciliation in Rwanda since the genocide, the pastors and wives both noted that this seminar differed from others in three ways: they learned about their identity in Christ, they personally received Christ’s forgiveness and they learned to be active listeners in the reconciliation process.
Attendees were blessed to witness one example of the week’s fruit: the Word of God convicted one pastor, brought him to repentance, and started the reconciliation process between him and his wife. This was just one example; there will be many more as God works through these people. The Holy Spirit will work through His Word to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to the congregations of the LMA-STH and the communities around them.
The four-day seminar blessed the pastors, wives, and the presenters as all witnessed the work of the Gospel: the power of forgiveness that comes through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Mark Rabe teaches at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.