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Hotel Rwanda

By heath - Posted on 25 May 2005

Sunday night after debriefing from the small group, Courtney and I watched Hotel Rwanda. My first exposure to the movie was through a sermon. Since then, I have been wanting to see the movie. The quote in the sermon was about how westerners will see the atrocities in Rwanda, feel sad, and then go on eating their dinner. This quote, and this movie causes a great deal of ambivalence in my heart. I have watch news of tragedies even while I was eating my dinner. How many tragedies do I hear about in the course of a day? I have relatively little exposure to mass media, but I must hear about at least 2 per day through the radio, TV, or internet. How the heck am I supposed to do something about them all? Not only are they so numerous, but the scale is so vast. Millions killed in third world natural disasters. Hundreds of thousands killed by terrorists or in civil wars. It prompts the age-old question, "Can one man make a difference?" Hotel Rwanda says, "Yes." Paul, an upper middle-class Rwandan hotel manager risks everything to save the lives of 1200 of his countrymen. He doesn't sell all he has and give to the poor. He doesn't abandon his family and join the Tutsi rebels. Instead, he becomes a hotel manager in a time of crisis. God prepared him through his hard work and even his sin, as he confesses, to know how to talk to people in power and to know how to work the system. Paul risked his own welfare for the sake of others. Tim George, the director, used Paul and his story to show the apathy and lack of interest by the West in stopping the genocide in Rwanda. Whatever your politics, your heart should be broken by the hideousness of the tragedy. God did not intend the world to be like this! There may be good reasons for a country like the US not to intervene. But, it must be saying "No" while we weep. Sometimes I am aghast at the coldness with which many who would tout the U.S. as a Christian nation callously turn a dry eye from a neighbor who is suffering. Sadly, I sometimes see this in the mirror. It is a small leap to see Christ in Paul and his own giving up of himself so that others might be saved. Ironically, it is through Christ's death that he frees from our idols of comfort and control so that we are free to, like him, love others who are in no way capable of helping us. We can give without asking, "What's in it for me?" While we may not be able to affect the complicated politics of Africa to stop genocide practicing this love, we can powerfully affect our own family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our neighbors. Who knows what good works God is preparing us for? When our hearts are torn away from our idols and cemented in love to him, God can greatly use one man or woman to accomplish great things for his kingdom.

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