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Approximately 90 percent of the people in Rwanda, Burundi, and Zaire claim to be baptized Christians. In the 1930s, in fact, the three countries experienced what is called the "East African Revival." A critical question, therefore, emerges: How can genocide and endless bloodshed take place among those who claim to be baptized Christians?

Remember, the house built on the rock stood even in the face of great storms. However, the house built on the sand fell when the wind and the rain came. When the wind of politics and the rain of tribalism came to this part of Africa, many people with weak foundations collapsed. Either they participated in violence, or they remained silent in the face of injustice.

Some Christians stood against the violence, and they were martyred for their strong stand of faith. Israel Havugimana, a representative of African Enterprise, was one such person. His identity was first of all that of a Christian—not a Hutu—one who stood for the gospel of love and truth. For his convictions he lost his life, along with his children and one of his parents.

Two kinds of genocide It is my belief that there was not one, but two genocides—a physical genocide and a spiritual genocide. Spiritual genocide refers to the presence of sin and hatred in people's hearts. For example, when a Roman Catholic cardinal attended a meeting of Rwandan church leaders, he asked: "Is the blood of tribalism more important than the water of baptism?" One of the church leaders answered, "Yes." When this type of sinful world-view is present in the hearts of people, it leads in its worst case to the tragic physical genocide witnessed in Rwanda. One church leader, the Reverend Frederick Robertson, summed it up well: "We do not ...

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In the Magazine

April 7, 1997

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