Hotel Rwanda

Sometimes I just have to write.  Sometimes it is the only way for me to articulate feelings.  Sometimes writing is the best way for me to sort through my emotions.

So after watching a movie like Hotel Rwanda the only acceptable thing for me to do is write.  When my mind is racing and my heart is aching, all I can do to shuffle through the mire is jot down a few words.  Sometimes the words that come make no sense, and every once in awhile the words will be strung together with a harmonious cord binding them into something coherent.  After viewing such a horrific movie, I have no idea which one of those this will turn out to be.


Hotel Rwanda is based on a true story about the Rwandan genocide that occurred between April and June of 1994.  In those short months over 800,000 people were killed.  This atrocious massacre happened while many western countries idly stood by.  During the 100 day slaughter, the assistant manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines, Paul Rusesabagina, sheltered over a thousand people in his hotel.  After all the European and American staff and guests were escorted to safety, Rusesabagina used his resources and wisdom to save the lives of many Rwandans.

Early on in the movie, a journalist takes footage outside the gates of the hotel.  He gets the massacre on tape.  Rusesabagina happened to be in the room when the journalist showed it to his partner.  As awful as the footage was, Rusesabagina said it was good that the world would see it, then they would come to help.  How could they not send help after seeing such atrocity?  One of the most disturbing lines of the movie followed from the journalist.  He said the western world would see this on their tv’s and declare how horrible it is, and then they will just go back to eating their dinner.

My heart sank.  My stomach turned when I heard those words.

Because they are true.

They would have to be true.  Otherwise nations would have intervened.

When I was in Israel in 2010, we visited Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum.  When I was in Germany in 2005, we went to the concentration camp Dachau.  I will never forget the horrifying silence felt in those places as we learned of the wicked barbarity that happened in the 1930’s and 40’s.  The awful holocaust really did happen.

So often people think of the atrocities of World War II as only things that could happen back then.  Surely technology and advancements would never allow such things to happen today.

But such violence and savagery does happen today.

You can read these articles about the Rwandan genocide that occurred not too long ago:

This song was written about Rwanda:  And she powerfully states, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible.”

Right now people are gathered in Atlanta.  Tens of thousands of people, mostly college aged young adults, are huddled in the Georgia Dome.  They are crying out with one voice to end modern day slavery.  Yes, slavery still exists.  In fact there are more slaves around the world now than ever before.  About 27 million people are enslaved today, in 2013.  Read about the movement to end slavery here:

Such atrocities are happening around the world.  We need to open our western eyes to see the hurting world around us.

Should people watch Hotel Rwanda?  As much as I want to shield people from such horrific bloodshed, many Americans do need to sit through it and realize it is not just a movie but something that actually took place.  And it took place as much of the world just turned their heads.

Americans are consumed with sports, celebrities, fashion, wealth, and self-esteem.  These blind this nation to the cries of the oppressed.

My prayer is that movies like Hotel Rwanda and stories on the news will stir people to action.  May the church rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  May we not look away when we see oppression and hurt, but may we look directly at it and into the eyes of those oppressed and hurting.  May we never overlook the rest of the world.  May we not get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget about the least of these.  May we, as the church, truly know what is happening around the world and do something.


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