The Nyamata Memorial is a church. In 1994, an estimated 10, 000 Rwandans came here seeking shelter and protection from the Interhamwe. They believed that they would be safe here, because no one believed that people would commit murder inside a church. Sadly, there were almost no survivors.
Nyamata is a peaceful and beautiful place. It has stood, undisturbed, since the horrifying acts of 1994. Once inside the outer gates, you are to keep as quiet as possible, and inside the actual church, there is not talking at all.
Photography is not permitted within the church, itself.
Behind the church, there is, what our guide called, a crypt. It lies beneath the white tiled memorials you see in this photograph.
We went inside, and what I saw I will probably never be able to describe to you. Shelves and shelves, all the way to the ceiling, lined with human remains. It was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen.
Still, there is now a sense of peace that fills the courtyard.
And it is beautiful place.
The back of the church, where you can still see marks in the bricks from the rebel soldiers trying to get inside.
Stained glass windows that have been broken out.
This morning was one of the hardest of my life. The massive loss of life, the terror these innocent people must have felt. To think that human beings would do this to one another. It's something I hope I never understand.
The beauty of this day came in the restoration we saw first-hand after we left the memorial. We traveled to Bugasera, a community where Africa New Life has a Christian school and community outreach. Seeing these beautiful children in school, learning how to read and write and hearing of the love of Christ right on the heels of our visit to Nyamata was completely overwhelming. I was able to see, with my own eyes, God's restoration at work. He is using the faithful workers of Africa New Life to raise up a generation of Rwandans who live and preach love, not hatred and violence.
It was an honor to meet these sweet children.
To talk with them.
To watch them play.
To try to play with them.
(I am not very good at hopscotch/rock soccer!)
To watch them be silly and just be kids.
To serve them lunch.
And to help clean up when they were finished.
One of my favorite (and most nerve-wracking) moments is right here.
I was given the opportunity to share my testimony with these precious children. Given the chance to tell them of Christ's redeeming work in my own life. It had been too long since I had shared my testimony in front of a group (and it was my first time to do so through a translator), and it was so, so, so good.
And this right here.
I have no idea why we are laughing. Probably something I mistakenly said.
But I love this moment. This man and I, we do not know each other. But we both know Jesus, and he helped me share my story with a room full of sweet faces.
And then as we were leaving, they called the entire school together to pray.
And this young man, Isa, got up and prayed in front of the whole school.
I had been talking to him earlier and did not realize that he was such a strong young man and leader.
Hearing him pray in Kinyarwandan was absolutely beautiful.
And as we were leaving, God caught my eye with this little reminder.
P.S. If you missed the first photo entry, just click HERE to get to it.