In Christian Fiction, I represent the doubting Thomases who come to God through tough experiences, harsh criticism, even cynicism, to eventual surrender to faith. I’ve questioned God and the Bible since I was ten years old. Luckily I had two ministers who welcomed my challenges and allowed my debate. I came to love the Old Testament and Jewish teachings. I am a Christian with a Jewish soul and my personal faith has grown out of seeing and experiencing actual miracles. Sometimes life gets in the way and we forget these, but God brings those memories back to renew His embrace.
In 1994, as a journalist, I covered the greatest humanitarian relief effort of the 20th Century. Greater efforts have been achieved since, but then, in Rwanda, up to one million had just been slaughtered within 100 days with greater efficiency than the Nazis mastered during the Holocaust. In the hundreds of articles I have written about logistics processes and security technologies, I have interviewed industry leaders and military generals of international fame. They generally fall into two categories: opportunists or idealists. The final test for a general, for instance, is what comes first: service or morality. In Rwanda, Canadian Lt. General Romeo Dallaire put humanity before his career, when he disobeyed his UN masters and refused to withdraw his small band of peacekeepers (who volunteered to remain) in the midst of the genocide. That act of decency exposed the world’s hour of shame.
While there, I listened to our peacekeepers tell one painful story after another. These troops, NGO workers and many journalists were not emotionally prepared for the horrors they witnessed. “How could they be?” you ask.
Well, I come from a generation where we learned world history in depth. I had read about the Holocaust and interviewed many survivors. I relived the horrors they described, so when I too confronted such cruelty, I was overwhelmed with sadness and anger at the blindness and savagery of humanity, but I did not become another victim.
I believe many troops and NGO workers thrust into the war on terror today go unprepared to deal with the emotional trauma of the jobs they have to do because we removed history from their education, so record numbers are returning home with post traumatic stress disorder. On my flight back to Canada, I decided fiction was the way to fill the gap and show readers how to triumph over betrayal, to let them see the true power of forgiveness and our struggle to achieve it, for as long as victims and perpetrators seek retribution against each other, we can never live in true peace.
I did see something in Rwanda in 1994 that has never left me and only recently have I come to realize what the significance of that was. Not all victims of the genocide, despite the horrors and tragedies they experienced, became cynical and distrusting. If we went to their dwelling and they only had one slice of bread, they would still welcome us into their home and share what they had left to eat with complete strangers. Yes, I saw the results of vengeance—such horrors harbor hatred and deep rage—but, in general, an amazing innocence and gentleness prevailed among the survivors. Today, victims and murderers work side by side to farm the land. Some have earned true redemption through forgiving one another. They are no longer Tutsi and Hutu. They are Rwandans, and I pray they become the world’s model for a working peace. Amazing stories of miracles and redemption come out of the country every day.
This is what my stories are about. The true power of forgiveness and our struggle to achieve it.
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