Bishop Mugabo and Lutheran Church of Rwanda leaders bless the newly planted tree.
Kate Warn is an ELCA missionary in Rwanda and is the country coordinator for the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program in Rwanda. To support Kate, click here. To support another of the ELCA’s more than 240 missionaries in the global church, click here.
In November. the Lutheran Church of Rwanda celebrated its 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, members gathered in southeast Rwanda near the border with Tanzania in the town where the first Lutheran congregation was established in 1994 by refugees returning from exile. Two trees were planted for the anniversary: one tree to commemorate 20 years of Lutheran ministry in Rwanda and one tree to symbolize the Lutheran Church of Rwanda’s connection to the global Lutheran community.
When I think about planting trees in the Rwandan context, I think about a vision described in Revelation 22:1-2: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life … flowing from the throne of God. … On either side of the river is the tree of life … and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of nations.”
For many years, Rwanda has been a nation in need of healing and reconciliation. But how does a nation heal from the wounds of genocide and exile? And what is the role of the church in such healing? These questions continue to frame mission and ministry here in this place.
In many ways, the stories of Rwanda’s recovery from genocide and the Lutheran Church of Rwanda’s growth over the past 20 years are quite remarkable. From the ashes of death and destruction in Rwanda, there has been new life. Rwanda is at peace and rapidly developing. A church founded by refugees now has more than 40 congregations, 26 pastors, and a vision for a sustainable future.
Still, the wounds of genocide and exile are deep, and the need for healing remains in Rwanda. As the Lutheran Church of Rwanda planted trees this week to mark the past, this church also proclaims a commitment to God’s mission of redemption and reconciliation. “The leaves of the tree are for the healing of nations.” May it be so in Rwanda.