Friday, February 01, 2008

Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed--and they have no comforter (Eccl. 4:1) Come to me, all you who are troubled and weighted down with care, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28). For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes (Jeremiah 31:25).

Jim Reppart gave me permission to blog his most recent letter. Please read the installment following this one concerning the devaluation of the American dollar.

While in Arusha, Tanzania we visited the United Nations International Tribunal concerning the Rwandan Genocide. As I listened to the court deliberating over the possible role of the defendant in the genocide, I was holding the "Daily Nation" newspaper from Kenya which had more devastating headlines and photos of the continued violence that has taken on ethnic proportions. I thought to myself, how ironic. Here we are 14 years after the Rwanda genocide still sorting it out and will we be here another 14 years from now sorting out what is happening or might happen in my beloved Kenya?

I remember the horror I felt in 1994 when the first hand reports from Rwanda reached Nairobi. I remember the demonic look in the eyes of the killers captured in the graphic photos. Here I sat listening to attempts of justice while at the same time looking at another photo of demonic eyes. Only this time the photo was taken a few days ago close to the place my son James and I used to go fishing.

Some have asked how such a thing can happen in a nation that claims to be mostly Christian. While judgment must be made against such atrocities it also calls for personal reflection by all of us who call ourselves "Christian." What happened in Rwanda and now Kenya demonstrates the power of evil that lurks beneath the surface. When unleashed it is always appalling the shape and size this evil becomes. Jeremiah says that we should not underestimate the deception of our own heart. It is "What Lies Beneath" that really counts. Jesus proclaimed that it is what is in the heart that creates behavior.

While we applaud the effort of Kofi Annan and others to bring about mediation it still will not solve "What Lies Beneath." It takes divine, supernatural power to deal with "What Lies Beneath." We all know that Jesus dealt with "What Lies Beneath" by giving us His very Spirit to change our hearts and guide our behavior. In the same newspaper, I was reading of a Christian family who gave their farm for the displaced people of their area so they could have a place to live. And there were many churches which braved the violence to minister to the basic needs of victims. I don't think it is difficult to see who the real followers of Jesus are. Our Lord's answer and response to the resulting chaos of evil is to simply enter into the fray and serve. Even when His own disciples were trying to decide "who won the election" he simply knelt down and washed their feet.

As we wind up the first round of language school and head up into Kenya, into the fray, we ask that you pray that God will lead us with wisdom and discernment as to how we can best demonstrate His grace to a very hurt and confused people. When people really see God's grace demonstrated, evil runs the opposite direction.

Grace to all,
Jim and Laura Reppart