After today’s focus on reconciliation, I can’t help feeling a bit shell-shocked tonight. It’s one thing to read stories of suffering and atrocities in books. It’s another matter entirely to hear those stories from the people who lived them.

I heard two separate accounts of the 1994 Rwanda genocide where a million people were murdered in 100 days and of the struggles in the aftermath with God, with anger, and with Jesus’ call and the desperate need to forgive. We’ve also had sex-trafficking and human slavery put before us, as well as racial, religious and gender oppression and violence, and HIV/AIDS.

The Dialogue Session I joined for the week has already proven to be a powerful eye-opener. The focus is on Reconciliation as the Mission of God: Christian Witness in a Word of Destructive Conflicts. Today was all about people’s stories. The decibel of pain in that room was off the scale. These stories challenge my understanding of how the gospel transforms human relationships and how utterly broken we all are. Following Jesus is painful and costly because where evil and suffering is rampant and there are true wrongs and injustices, what he calls us to be and do violates our natural inclinations. But this is where Christianity stops being all talk and where through God’s children the kingdom of heaven truly invades the kingdom of this world.

Pray that the impact of Lausanne will go beyond temporary shell-shock, and that real change and action will result from what we are learning this week. Pray that for me.

About carolyncustisjames
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