A Promise for the Graduate
Last week a friend gave me Carl Wilkens’ provocative first-person account—I’m Not Leaving: Rwanda through the Eyes of the Only American to Remain in the Country through the 1994 Genocide. In his disturbing recital of what it was like to survive "the most tragic one hundred days of the twentieth century," young Carl Wilkens—country director for Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) at the time—struggles to come grips with what he witnessed, the genocide extermination of over 800,000 Tutsi men, women and children—most of them hacked to death by machetes.
He describes the surging emotions of that moment when he watched the vehicle, bearing his wife and their three young children, disappear around the corner, tight on the tail of one lone UNAMIR tank (United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda), their escort to safety outside the city and country. Because of his decision to refuse the U.S. embassy evacuation, he was asked to send a signed and dated note with his family: "I have refused the help of the United States government to leave Rwanda."
Years later he still wrestles with the choices so many made during this genocidal crisis:
"When I think about choices, I think about what Holocaust survivor and author Viktor Frankl wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning: 'We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way." (33)
And therein lies a promise for every graduate in this Class of 2018—no one can take away from you the freedom to choose your own attitude. Like Wilkens, you will face radical life-changing decisions (at a pace now much faster than you may have anticipated). But no matter the successes or crises on the road ahead, the truly great news is that you will face them all in tandem with the God of the universe who has been charting your future for quite some time now.
And He has a Book full of YES CAN DO promises for you:
• "What god is there in heaven or on earth who CAN DO the deeds and mighty works You do?"
• "I know You CAN DO all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted."—Job 42:2
• "I CAN DO all things through Christ who strengthens me."—Philippians 4:13
• "Now to Him who CAN DO immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!"—Ephesians 3:20
The good news is you CAN DO because He CAN DO.
So our collective prayer for you is a simple one: May the same Jesus who was with you here be with you there—your CAN DO Friend and Lord with His CAN DO future and life—"immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine." To which I add my fervent Amen.