My time in Rwanda is drawing to a close in another few weeks and has been profound in so many ways. The resilience, faith, and love that I have experienced and witnessed in the lives of the Rwandan people has shown me that even in the midst of life’s most painful moments life does continue.
During one home visit to a family where the entire household has HIV/AIDS (father, mother, and three children) the father joyfully expressed “Life Continues” with the help of God, AMU (and yes the medicine too.) Many of the women and children that I serve and have come to know have also shared with me that although they live a “tough life” that indeed “Life Continues.”
Life continues for the young girl who told me how she witnessed her mother die at the hands of her father. Fleeing from her brutal father to save her young life she hid in the woods where she was sexually assaulted and as a result contracted HIV/AIDS. A few years later, in the shelter of a new family that loves and cares for her and the support of friends at AMU she knows now that God has a plan for her life.
Life continues for the teenage boy whose stepfather will not accept him and as a result he had to live on the streets, rob, and steel for food. He has now found new life and purpose knowing that God has placed caring people such as teachers, counselors, and AMU staff in his life to encourage him to press forward in life and his studies.
For the Mama who told me how her husband and all of her eight children were killed during the genocide and because her church was involved she became distant from God with her hope gone….life now continues. After finding solace with other women at AMU, she no longer felt alone and her hope in God became restored. This Mama now has three adopted children. Mama said that the more she trusted God, the more her joy and love for God returned.
Life does indeed continue in Rwanda. Life continues in Rwanda because of the JOY and faithfulness that Rwandans have, the type of joy that comes from the fruit of the spirit. Seeking joy not happiness is the key to a fruitful Christian walk. Happiness is contingent
on what is going on at the present time but joy is the fruit of the Spirit of the Lord (Galatians 5:22). Certainly the spiritual journey is filled with turbulent painful moments but it is not about being happy it is about having joyful contentment, the type of joy that produces a perfect peace – the presence of God within us is that Perfect Peace that surpasses all understanding. To experience real joy we must learn to fully surrender to God’s will, God’s love, and to God’s restorative power.
As that Mama and the other women in the Bible Study group I facilitated expressed, it is prayer – prayer without ceasing – which reminds us that God is the source of our strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
God bless and keep the precious, beautiful and resilient people of Rwanda.
Peace, love, blessings and JOY,