24 GRI Makasi Rwanda Genocide News Release 3

General Conference

God and Genocide

Loma Linda, California, United States | Timothy Standish, senior scientist, GeoScience Research Institute

A quarter of a century has passed since the world stood by, while approximately one million Rwandans were slaughtered by their neighbors and fellow citizens. How can such an outburst of undiluted evil ever be explained? Like all evil, there is no real sense to be made of it, but the influence of theories about race and a view of humans very foreign to what the Biblical record reveals are clearly evident in this tragedy.

As a church, we have to wrestle with the fact that there were many who claimed to be Christians—even some ordained to the gospel ministry and placed in leadership positions by our denomination—whose actions reveal a demonic influence in stark opposition to the call of Christ. In at least one case, a doctor slaughtered people seeking refuge in one of our hospitals. How could Christians forget our own humanity, and that our brothers and sisters who were also created in God’s image? Are we even still Christians if we forget that, as the Apostle Paul put it to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)?

In the midst of horror too awful for the human mind to truly comprehend, there were some who did remember the biblical teaching about equality and the value of human life. As we look back at the tragic failure of humanity represented by the genocide, let’s not forget to celebrate the heroism of the Muslim man and the pagan woman who famously saved many people from slaughter. No doubt there were others. And there was Carl Wilkens, the Adventist who stayed and was the last American in Rwanda as the slaughter proceeded. Without any human to back him up, he confronted the leaders who orchestrated the genocide. God’s power working through him saved many lives.

But it turns out that the Creator didn’t only have human heroes to call on during the genocide. The story of one of these other heroes is the subject of a short film being released in the lead up to Creation Sabbath, which falls on October 26 this year. The poignant story told in this film, called Makasi-Courage, features a true story as told by Janvier Nsimyimana, a genocide survivor and student at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines. The producer of Makasi-Couragewas another student, Samson Bush Maldonado, who recently graduated. It turns out that when humans forget their own humanity, God can still use His creation to reveal His love. To see Makasi-Courage, you can watch it here.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has designated the 4thSabbath of every October as Creation Sabbath. Why is this so important? Because, when we forget that humans were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26) and that each one of us is the subject of His infinite love, the God who notes each sparrow that falls (Luke 12:6,7) is too easily forgotten. When that happens, we are not immune from the evil of this world, but can perpetrate it just as anyone else can. This is why God wrote in stone that we should remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8), because by doing this we remember that He is our Creator and Redeemer; that each person from the least to the greatest is equal in His eyes. In Christ there can be no genocide, it can only happen when we forget our Creator.

For more information about the joy-filled celebration of Creation Sabbath, visit here.

You are invited to periodically revisit this site as more information, ideas and resources are made available.

Also, to stay up-to-date on the latest information about Creation Sabbath, be sure to follow the Geoscience Research Institute on Facebook, where more short films, information and other materials will be released. Finally, if you already have great plans for Creation Sabbath, please write and share them with us so that we can let others know what you are doing and celebrate with you!