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Rwandan Genocide: 15 Years Later

Rwandan genocide In 1994 I was 16.

I was in the midst of my self-absorbed teenage years – a time in my life when nothing seemed as important as what kind of clothes I was wearing, and my daily mood was dictated by whether my current crush had said “Hi” to me in the hallway between classes that day. I was the center of my attention.

I distinctly remember the moment that God took my focus off of me.

Throughout my childhood, my mom subscribed to Time Magazine. There were always a few copies lying somewhere near the couch and occasionally I would pick one up and casually leaf through it.

One day, in May, I picked up a magazine with this cover …

I proceeded to read the article, both fascinated and horrified by the words I was reading. As I looked at the gruesome pictures, God did a major work on my heart.

My focus suddenly shifted from myself to those living through the nightmare happening in Rwanda. I was at once both distraught about what was happening in Rwanda and heartbroken for my own self-centered worldview. My world – my concerns, my interests, my dreams, my prayers – suddenly seemed so trivial in comparison.

That was the first time I remember thinking about people outside of the world I knew. I didn’t realize that God was using that moment to plant seeds in my heart – seeds that would eventually bear fruit in my choice of career, where I give my money, and how I live my life.

Fifteen years later I still haven’t forgotten that day or those images.

Elie Weisel, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, said: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Even though the genocide happened 15 years ago, we must never allow ourselves to fall into indifference. The images can still have a profound impact on many lives.

Pictures tell stories in ways that words never can. So here is the story, 15 years later…

How did the genocide affect your life? Did it alter your view of God? Did it change your perspective on injustice? Have you explained to your children what happened?

Photos and slideshow by Chuck Bigger, one of God’s biggest blessings to Compassion.

If you have difficulty viewing the slideshow in this post, you can also check it out in Flickr.Upload your photos to our Flickr group. Show us how you see poverty.