A Gift of Forgiveness in Rwanda
Main Point: Giving a gift can bring about peace between hurting people. If we’ve received peace-making gifts, we should also give them.
The Discussion Starter:
The video used in this discussion is actually a promotional video for Operation Christmas Child (or Operation Shoebox as it’s sometimes called), a ministry under the huge umbrella of Samaritan’s Purse. These folks, led by Franklin Graham, son of international evangelist Billy Graham, provide the good news of Jesus through relief efforts around the world.
This 9-minute-long clip follows a young man named Alex all the way from the civil war-torn nation of Rwanda where he saw his family killed in front of him, to the frigid winters of Minnesota where he was eventually adopted by an American…and then back to Rwanda to offer something to someone who needed it very badly.
Essentially, Alex received a gift and it led him to seek God’s forgiveness. Alex then wanted to offer that same kind of gift to someone who had changed his life so deeply. Let’s take a look at who that was, and what happened.
The Video Clip:
The video, which is actually a promotional video for Operation Christmas Child, can be found on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDwOHrih5FU
What a powerful story. Just like the narrator said at the beginning of the clip, “There are stories upon stories upon stories that God wants to tell of people who have experienced hardship, who have experienced pain, who have been used and abused. And God wants to take that story and turn it into something beautiful.” That’s exactly what God did with the story of Alex’s life. Alex experienced raw and murderous brutality when he was just a child, but God has used that tragedy to bring about something awesome in the lives of so many. And it started with a gift…a humble gift in a humble shoebox. Alex received peace through a gift, and he wanted others to receive that same kind of peace, so he gave a gift, as well. Maybe you and I can do the same thing.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
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- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether or not we’ve ever been to Africa.
- ASK A FEW: Does anyone know about the genocide that occurred in Rwanda in the early 1990s? If so, could you give us a brief account of that tragedy? (Leaders – If you are unfamiliar yourself, just check out this quick story or this one to give yourself an adequate background.)
- ASK A FEW: How do you think you would feel/how would it affect you if your family was tortured and killed in front of you?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think you would be able to meet with your family’s killer? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Alex said that the gift of an Operation Christmas Child shoebox meant the world to him. Why?
- ASK A FEW: Alex received the peace that comes from knowing Jesus after he received the shoebox. What did he do next?
Read the following passage:
Luke 2:1-14 (NIV)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
We just experienced a great story through Alex’s life. A young child that, by all measures, probably should have been murdered in the brutal genocide of his African nation, gets a gift in a shoebox, gets adopted, and then returns to his ravaged nation to share the hope and peace he’s received through Jesus. Pretty incredible, right?
But that’s exactly the kind of impact Jesus wants us to have after we’ve received the gift He’s given to us in Himself.
Let’s face it: if we know Jesus, our lives should be changed. We once were hopeless, separated from God because of our sin, and then God sent His Son Jesus to earth to give His life for ours. That’s massively huge. In fact, there’s nothing in life that’s bigger than this reality!
But that’s only half of it. If we know Jesus, not only should our lives be different, but we should want to be a part of changing other people’s lives, too! That’s what Alex did. He had his life changed by a gift and by a Savior. He wanted that exact same peace for others that he’d received from God. So he ventured back to Rwanda to face his family’s killer.
Like Alex said, “That’s a powerful God!”
If we know Jesus as our Savior, if we’re following Him as our Lord, we have that powerful God living within us! There’s nothing we can’t do! So, why not give to others the peace you have with God through Jesus? Surely there is someone in your life that needs Jesus. God is counting on you to show them the Gift He gave to the world 2,000 years ago.
Decide in your heart right now that you’re going to share this gift. As we close in prayer, take a moment to silently ask God to bless your efforts of sharing His Son Jesus with others. That’s a prayer God loves to answer.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.