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January 26, 2009

A Weekend to Remember

Mi dr uchyahana The weekend of January 16-18 found, I'm sure, many Americans eagerly preparing for the Inauguration of our new president. However, three members of my family (my husband, daughter, and I) were happily doing something else that weekend -- attending the Wilberforce Weekend Conference where Bishop John Rucyahana of Rwanda was honored as the recipient of the 2009 Wilberforce award: "As chairman of Prison Fellowship Rwanda, Rucyahana organized the Umuvumu Tree Project, a nationwide program to prepare perpetrators and victims of the genocide for face-to-face meetings."

It was an honor to meet a man who has led so many others to find forgiveness and redemption, not only in God's sight, but in the sight of those they have harmed. His is a powerful witness to the true power of Christ to change hearts and minds and to heal our most grievous wounds. In his acceptance speech, Bishop Rucyahana made one statement I will never forget. Christians tend to say "I accepted Christ as my Savior." But Bishop John reversed that. He said, "Christ graciously accepted me and has called me to a mission." (And all God's people said, "Amen!")

While attending the award ceremony was certainly a highlight of the weekend, it was not the only bright spot. All the conference speakers -- Chuck Colson, T.M. Moore, Mark Earley, Ken Boa, Glenn Sunshine, Robert George, Fr. Robert Sirico, Art Lindsley, as well as a host of my fellow Centurions -- brought incredible words of hope and encouragement for the dark times in which we live. 

Chuck likened these times to a "perfect storm" -- one that offers Christians great opportunities for demonstrating the goodness of God and the greatness of Christ to our friends, family, and neighbors. He reminded us that "Christians do the best of things in the worst of times," and he encouraged us to let God consume us, for "if God consumes you, there's no room for worrying about yourself." 

My family flew out of Washington, D.C., on Sunday night as many supporters of our new president were flying in. Don't get me wrong:  I'm praying for President Obama because I love my nation. But this weekend reminded me that his power -- whether he uses it for good or ill -- is minor compared to the power we have in Jesus Christ.

As circumstances in the nation continue to decline, and as more and more Americans suffer as a result, it would be easy to give in to the sin of despair. Instead, we need to see this "perfect storm" as a chance to be "the good news incarnate" as Jesus intends for us to be until He returns to establish His Kingdom. For all these reasons (and more), January 16-18, 2009 will be a weekend I will remember forever. Even more importantly, I'm praying that God will show me how to live what I learned: this is certainly no time to be a "hearer" only.

(Image courtesy of ASSIST News Service)

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