“When we share our stories we can begin to heal.” _-Benjamin, ALARM staff
Written by Tasha Burgoyne
I remember the sun shining through the windows of the conference as our second day began. The women arrived early and started to sing as they swayed back and forth. A few women gently used their journals to fan themselves. Outside of the soft rhythm of their papers, it was quiet and still with the weight of eager, listening hearts combined, like a fresh blanket covering the conference room in humility and openness.
After Dana, one of our facilitators, finished talking about how to find themes in the Bible, she invited the women to think about how God’s story had intersected with their story. To think about a time when they had seen God’s goodness in their own story.
It didn’t take long for a woman to raise her hand and make her way to the front of the room. Marguerite began recounting this part of her story:
In 1994 when the airplane crashed and the Genocide started my husband never came back from work. At that time I had small children at home and because no one else at my home was killed on that day, I know we experienced the protection of God.
We had suffered so much. My children were fatherless with no one to provide for them. I did not know how I would care for them. I had no way to provide shelter or educate my children.
But God provided even though my children were fatherless.
I praise the Lord for His provision.
Even though during the genocide I had no husband, no house and was wandering from place to place... I now have a house and God has provided for me and my family. We have food and they are being educated. Hallelujah.
The women’s voices raise in unison as they affirm God’s goodness as Marguerite exclaims with hands raised Hallelujah. The room fills with Hallelujah.
1. God be praised as uttered in worship or as an expression of rejoicing
These women know of God’s protection and provision in ways that overwhelm my soul.
What came to my mind as I listened to Marguerite’s story was a prayer from a prophet in the Old Testament who spoke of the devastation he and his people were experiencing.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17- 9
Marguerite’s story includes immeasurable loss beyond what she tells us today. When you look in her eyes you see sadness yet you also see joy. Her faith and resolve is strong and steady as she stands before us.
How could she point to God’s protection and provision when she has experienced so much loss?
How could she stand beneath the weight of the sorrow and grief?
I am not sure. But I know we could see God’s strength speaking through her.
I already know we have much to learn of God’s goodness and faithfulness from these women.
Not only is God lifting her up, Marguerite is leading the way for others to find hope and healing in Rwanda. Marguerite like the other leaders are being equipped and empowered to lead others through their participation in the African Women’s Leadership Training because of the generosity of the Women of Grace and their friends.
When you build into a leader’s life, your investment multiplies and extends way beyond the one leader to many more.