I have found myself crying two times in the last 12 hours. And my weekend has consisted of nothing but family parties, time at the beach with my husband, eating good food, and painting my home. Perhaps, I am crying BECAUSE of these good things.
The first time tears brimmed was this morning in church, which I can understand as I thought about my barely tenable connection to brothers and sisters suffering unspeakable losses in Iraq right now. What did my four walls of safety and communion have in common with theirs? Just Jesus, and a prayer He is not far from them right now.
The second time I gave way to tears coursing in gentle waves was watching the end of Hotel Rwanda with my husband. I’ve seen it many times, he had not, and so we began watching the sober film about the 1994 Rwandan genocide a few weeks ago, and concluded it today. My husband looked over at me, crying, and tried to console me as I simply said, “It’s just, that it’s happening right now. This. THIS. Is happening right now.”
And I am angry and saddened and frustrated by my helplessness, my powerlessness, my lack of ability to move. Me, one of the world’s richest persons because I live in America, hold a master’s degree, and have a combined annual income of triple digits.
All of those factors should make me one of the most influential people and yet they are nothing, or they feel like nothing to stem the slaughter of northern Iraqi’s who claim Christ as Lord, or who belong to other faiths and simply will not convert to Islam.
I know many people are posting on Facebook, are changing profile pictures, are tweeting, I among them. And yet, I also know that fleeing, suffering Iraqi’s are asking, “Where is our help?” Do they see us trying to raise awareness? Do they know, that if we could, we would call down more than just meager airstrikes ourselves? We would pick them up, carry them into our homes, lay them down in a bed, and whisper, “You are safe now” until kingdom come?
I fear they do not know. I fear they think we have abandoned them, forgotten about them, considered them someone else’s problem, or worse yet, never heard about them at all. I fear it’s Rwanda all over again and only after it’s over will people read of it, will they travel like I did to the memorial sites, indignant and righteously angry that such senseless atrocities ever occurred. I fear they will become REAL to us one day, when we hear their survivor stories ,or visit their graves or watch a Hollywoodized movie. And then, it will be too late.
And I can’t have that on my conscious. I’ve been to Rwanda. I’ve seen the walls where babies’ heads were shattered like clay pots on bricks. I’ve befriended a boy who hid in bushes at the age of 5, watched his family get chopped down, and lived to tell. I’ve read the stories; I’ve heard the politics behind labeling something a “genocide” and I’ve met the people to whom that term applied. I was 11 when the Rwandan genocide occurred. I am 30 now. Youth and helplessness may have been my excuse then, but by God, it will NOT be my excuse now. Not ever.
And so, I will pray down heaven’s armies, and I will teach American school children that there are children their age whose heads are on spikes in a park because they remained true to what they believe. And I will write, and I will find ways to give, and I may come at the end and still wonder if people in Iraq knew I loved them. But, I will get to heaven, and I will see them, and we will worship our Savior together, and I will not wish I had spent my time differently on earth. I will not waste my helplessness on them.