What Rwanda taught me about Suffering

As I’m writing this post I’m still trying to wrestle with all the things that I observed while being in Rwanda. People have asked me “How was the trip?” to which I respond; “Thats a loaded question…” I remember feeling somewhat unsure of what God had for me for this trip before I left. I knew God wanted me to go, hence all the financial support that came in, but I wasn’t sure about what God wanted me to learn about Himself, myself and African culture. After some time there I began to see one thing that God had for me to learn. I spent three days working with the medical team there in a small village in Bugesera. We saw over 400 kids with all kinds of medical issues ranging from dehydration, malnutrition, skin issues and dental issues. I remember a certain girl who had malaria. She spent all day throwing up anything she put into her stomach. When you see these things the first emotional response is to say; “Why is there suffering?” And I did what any normal Christian would do, I questioned God…And here is what God taught me about suffering: IMG_1648

As with any third world country, you experience poverty never seen in the states. I saw poverty in Rwanda like never before. But I began to notice something special about these people and it was that they had a Hope in the midst of distress like I had never experienced before. There was a hunger and thirst for the gospel. There was a joy for the coming kingdom.

I was talking with Annette who was one of the locals there. She said that “America doesn’t suffer from physical poverty. You have everything at your fingertips. But what America suffers from is the poverty of Spirit.” I can’t count how many times that I have left the gospel out of the picture because honestly, as an American, I don’t think I need the gospel. I have all I need. If I get sick I just run across the street and buy some medicine. I can drink out of the faucet if I want to and not get sick. Most people in Rwanda don’t have that. So what has Rwanda taught me about suffering?

Suffering reveals what we trust the most. In 2 Corinthians1:8-9 the Bible says that suffering propels us to rely on God rather than the life-sustaining props of this world.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, - 2 Corinthians 4:17

The Conversation between Annette and me finished with her talking about that day when Jesus comes back and gathers his church. No more sickness, pain and death. If we hang on to the gospel we have all we need.

So the question for you is…Is Jesus enough?

Kenny Barrett - Creative Arts Pastor