ZOE Ministry is a vast and quickly-spreading organization that helps starving orphans worldwide develop the systems, training, and support they need to become self-sufficient. It sounded entirely too pie-in-the-sky for my taste, and they have a such a stringent take on not being a handout organization that in the description I was given, I thought they sounded almost willfully cruel.
And then I went on this journey with them, traveling to all corners of Rwanda, seeing the ways that these children have come to life under this organization's guidance. It changed the way I thought about missions in a way I thought couldn't be changed.
We happened to be in Rwanda during the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide, and the shadow of that event covered everything we did. Some realities never get any easier, no matter the distance time brings.
When I returned, I produced a video about the work ZOE is doing in Rwanda, you can watch that here.
I like these pieces a lot, and I'd love it if you read through them all (there's only six). But if you'd like to pop in real quick and get an idea of what these are like, go ahead and read Mythical Creatures, which is informative and sporadically funny, and you'll learn what to do if you're ever kidnapped by a gorilla while on safari.
The last three pieces, starting with Our National Heroes..., are focused solely on the Rwandan Genocide. They are, probably, the best pieces of writing I've ever done. But they're tough, blood-soaked reads, and I recommend skipping them if you find yourself not in the right headspace for that.
In whatever case, feel free to read on...
Part 1: An Introduction. Lying sleepless in bed in a country I could not find on a map a few short weeks ago.
Part 2: A Lingering Dread. A pleasant visit to the surprisingly swanky Hotel Rwanda.
Part 3: Mythical Creatures. The surprising history of progressive feminism in Rwanda, and what to do if you are ever abducted by a gorilla.
Part 4: Our National Treasures... Part one in a three-part series on the Rwandan Genocide starts with me on the outskirts of the Rwandan Genocide Museum, staring at the flowers and listening to the screaming.
Part 5: The Light at the Top of the Stairs. The second part of that same series traces the history of the Rwandan Genocide through its grisly steps.
Part 6: Carved In Stone. The last part of this series explores the possibility of hope returning in modern-day Rwanda, built from the blood and ashes of their losses.