I took this picture standing on a hill which was home to a newly developed methane gas energy plant near the western border of Rwanda.  Lake Kivu lay in front of us, calm, collected, elegant.  Any soul daring enough to sit still and peer into her wise eyes would come away almost mystically transformed.  This was in 2007 and I had just heard personal story after story of the horrors Ms Kivu had witnessed just over a decade prior.  No one knows the exact numbers for certain, but some estimate that well into the tens of thousands of people were sent to the bottom of Ms Kivu as their final terrestrial home.  Aside from the memorial placards at the sites of chilling mass graves, churches that have at their front doors 20 foot tall clear glass catacombs filled with the bones of those slaughtered within its pews, and the stories of survivors brave enough to speak, you may not have guessed that nearly a million people underwent Genocide here in the mid 1990's.  People who were there in 1994 speak of an other worldly darkness that came over the land, as if evil personified, the devil himself, had a free reign of terror.  But darkness did not endure.  Injustice did not win.  Rwandans paint for us a picture of how love, forgiveness, and reconciliation can literally transform a country.  To purpose to live at peace with and love those who hurt you most is potentially one of the most difficult endeavors of the human spirit.  But here we see an entire country who embodies this reality.  I witnessed  it in 2007, and am headed back.

This summer I'll be working along side Rwandans to bring medical care and education to several communities near the city of Kibuye.  This region was considered to have suffered more casualties from the genocide than anywhere else in the country.  But incredibly these communities are now leading the way of hope and change for a better Rwanda.  The government is recognizing their progress and asking them to travel and implement their community based health care models across the country.  I'm excited to walk along side those who've overcome mountains of loss, to learn from them, and to share what I can of my knowledge and passion for healthcare and wholeness.  

Perhaps the wisdom and grace in the eyes of Ms Kivu is birthed from experiencing a past of such darkness and pain transformed by the power of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.  But sadly Ms Kivu yet endures the pains of hate, war, and injustice.  Across the lake, just below the cloud line in the picture above you can make out a dim grey landmass.  That is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, previously known as Zaire.  The DRC ranks just behind North Korea, Somalia, and Sudan as one of the poorest, most dangerous and chronically crisis ridden countries in the world.  Overrun by multiple conflicting rebel army groups vying for power and a piece of the country's rich untapped mineral deposits - estimated to be worth over $24 Trillion dollars (US) - the DRC faces the bizarre juxtaposition of being literally one of the richest lands in the world with the poorest people living on top of it.  The eastern side of the country right next to Lake Kivu is particularly volatile.  In recent weeks over 30,000 people have been fleeing the rural villages to the main city of the Region, Goma, and even across borders into Rwanda and Uganda.  Abduction of young boys (8-9 year olds) to become hardened child soldiers is quite common and young girls are captured to be passed around the rebel camps as sex slaves.  The poorly resourced national army has little ability to counteract these groups and the government is often unwilling to arrest the rebel leaders due to internal corruption and fear of retaliation.  

In a documentary on modern day Social Justice movements, Dr. Cornel West, a civil rights activist, profoundly declares,

 "Justice. Justice is what Love looks like in public."  

Some friends of mine are seeking to bring this kind of 'Love in Public' to the Congo.  I'll be spending a month with them (their organization actually is called "Justice Rising") working to build schools, orphanages, and safe houses for the women and children who've be ravaged by chronic war.  We're actually not sure if we'll be able to make it to some of the villages were some of these projects have already begun; the fighting yet continues as you read this.  But I'm excited to join with this motley crew of native Congolese and ex-pat lovers.  Their vision is for peace and transformation; that there would be life and wholeness, not death and despair.  

Rwanda and the Congo will be my temporary home this summer and Ms Kivu a reminder of what was, what is, and what can be.  
5/27/2012 11:49:43 am


Blessings in your work. I'll be praying for you. What a great opportunity to be the gospel in a foreign land. God Bless.
Mr. H.

5/27/2012 07:27:51 pm

Praying for you and excited for you!! I'm in Calcutta right now--can't wait til we are both home!!

Marlene Compaan
6/3/2012 09:06:46 am

Anxious to hear/see more of your experiences, Kyle. I'm sure you've 'seen' a lot and have been very busy. You've been there nearly a week already. Wow! Blessings and prayers going your way!! Love ya, Mom


Leave a Reply.

    “The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know---Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.” 
    ― John Adams


    July 2012
    May 2012