Rick Warren’s Purpose for Rwanda

ASSIST Ministries carries an interview with Rick Warren containing this interesting sub-heading:


Warren said that the plight of Africa was very much on his heart at this time. “I’ve been in three different countries in Africa already this year,” he said. I’ve been Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya and actually in ten days, we are going back to Rwanda. The President, Paul Kagame, has invited us to help Rwanda become the first ‘purpose-driven nation.’

“We are going to go there for ten days and I’m going to do a day of training for business leaders as well as training for the government leaders and the cabinet and also a day of training for the religious leaders. Then, on the last day, on July 16th, we are going to do National Reconciliation Rally in National Stadium of Rwanda to talk about reconciliation between the Tutsi and Hutu. It will be eleven years after the genocide.”

Warren first announced his plans for Rwanda back in April, when he launched his five-point “P.E.A.C.E.” plan for Africa: the letters stand for “Plant churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation.” Warren can be seen as natural successor to Charles Finney: just as Finney developed a method for organising successful revivals in the 19th century, so Warren’s success is down to tutoring by management guru Peter Drucker – who now calls Warren “the inventor of perpetual revival.” Warren has applied his “purpose-driven” technique to churches, Christians – and now, a whole country looks like it will be next.

Warren made his announcement at Saddleback church’s 25th anniversary celebrations. The Baptist Press reported at the time:

The official rollout of P.E.A.C.E. will focus on the small country of Rwanda in eastern Africa, where a million people were killed in a 100-day genocide in 1994. A recent visit to the country convinced Warren that Rwanda had the right qualities for what he called “the first model of national cooperation” between churches and a country’s leaders.

Warren said he was impressed with the spiritual depth of Rwandan church leaders who opposed the genocide and have led the people into a “spirit of hope and reconciliation.” He also said he believes God wants to begin something new in a small country that the world ignores.

Warren then introduced President Paul Kagame as a “wonderful Christian leader” who has demonstrated his trustworthiness in rebuilding the country.

The BBC offers up some more personal details about Kagame in this 2000 profile:

Although Mr Kagame often mocks his image as a military strongman and powerbroker, little takes place in Rwanda without his knowledge.

…Colleagues hint at an ascetic temperament, presenting the president as an incorruptible teetotaller and strong disciplinarian.

Mr Kagame eschews any form of flamboyance and is a low-key, dry public speaker. He is married with four children. Leisure pursuits include playing tennis and reading.

…Paul Kagame is also a firm advocate of Rwanda’s continuing military engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, arguing that vital security issues are at stake and nobody but Rwandans will protect his country’s security.

Kagame led the rebel troops that finally ended the Hutu-led massacres in 1994, so Warren’s enthusiasm is understandable. However, Warren would perhaps be wise to maintain some critical distance. From today’s BBC:

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has begun hearing allegations of human rights atrocities committed by Rwandan troops in DR Congo.

DR Congo accuses its neighbour of armed aggression, mass slaughter, rape, abduction, looting and assassination.

The charges were filed in 2002, and are strenuously rejected by Rwanda. DR Congo also made accusations of village-burning against Rwanda back in November; Rwanda maintains that it only sends troops into Congo to hunt down Hutu extremists who have been in the country since 1994. In December 2004, Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch noted that some of these Hutu groups have themselves been killing and looting local Congolese. However, she also claimed that

Rwandan officials say their “surgical strikes” will target only FDLR [the “Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda”, which many of the Hutu forces  in DR Congo have joined], but distinguishing combatants from civilian populations is often difficult. In addition, civilians are frequently caught between demands for assistance from competing forces and end up being punished for having given—or for being suspected of having given—aid to the other side. In the last week there have been reports of villages burned and of civilians killed.

In July 2004, HRW’s Juliane Kippenberg was rather more explicitly critical, writing in the UK Observer:

…the “fight against genocide” has become an excuse for new abuses. It served to justify four years of Rwandan occupation of eastern Congo, which in turn sparked Africa’s bloodiest war. The genocide was used as a pretext for dissolving the main opposition party before presidential elections last year. Now, the RPF-dominated parliament wants the country’s largest and most respected human rights organization to be dissolved – allegedly in the name of preventing genocide.

In order to justify action against the League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (usually known by its French-language acronym, Liprodhor) the parliament insists that Liprodhor “supports genocidal ideas”. In reality, since well before the 1994 genocide, Liprodhor defended the rights of all Rwandans. It sought international action to avert the impending genocide. Those appeals fell on deaf ears. In the past decade, it has monitored genocide trials, pressing for justice to be both swift and fair.

On a recent visit to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, I was struck by the atmosphere of intimidation…

LIPRODHOR was affiliated with the Roman Catholic peace group Pax Christi. Its website is now inactive, but readers of French can see what it used to say at Wayback. Amnesty International added in January:

The expected closure of LIPRODHOR follows a well-known pattern for human rights organisations in Rwanda. In the case of LIPRODHOR, parliamentary commissions have, on two occasions in March 2003 and June 2004, made vague and unsubstantiated allegations regarding their “divisionist” and/or “genocidal” activities. In the Rwanda of today where one’s innocence rather than one’s guilt has to be proven, such allegations are usually sufficient to effectively blacklist the organisation or individual. Such organisations find it nearly impossible to hire and retain staff or raise funds. Following the release of the more recent parliamentary commission’s report, the organisation’s assets were temporarily frozen and several key LIPRODHOR staff sought asylum abroad.

Specifically, LIPRODHOR was accused of involvement with the deaths of some genocide survivors; four other NGOs were also dissolved.

So, will Warren’s American gospel of management help to steer Kagame away from the path of authoritarianism? Or does Warren risk becoming a stooge for a dictator, as other evangelists have before him?

19 Responses

  1. Kagame won 95% of the vote. He is truly a democratic leader in the tradition of Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti.

    He’s also a brave and righteous warrior in Iraq, a Charter Member of the Coalition of the Willing.

    It amazes me when I read about the Second Congo War. The news in America, I don’t remember it at all.

    HRW has a newer report on the role of gold-mining in NE Congo-Kinshasa. It’s called The Curse of Gold

  2. I believe that your fears about Rick Warren (him being a stoodge for Kagame, the dictator) have been confirmed. Kagame is a brutal, arrogant and bloodthirsty ruler, who only thinks about himself and the clique around him. He only trades the rwandan genocide with his ‘friends’ from around the world to get money from them, and presenting himself as a spokesman for its victims. In reality, he oppresses Rwandans of all ethnic backgrounds, abducting, jailing and killing many of them without any form of trial. For Warren to present Kagame as a “true spiritual leader… and a man with great vision”, this is purely hypocritical or naive to say the least, for Kagame’s regime not only persecutes christians, but also corrupts church leaders turning them into spies who hand over to him fellow christians to be tortured and imprisoned (such a cruel game has been played for about ten years now, and unfortunately, nothing seems to indicate that there will be an end soon). The Pentecostal Church in Rwanda (ADEPR) is a typical example of such sinister manoeuvres orchestrated by the apartheid-like system in Kigali. Kagame’s regime is so unpopular with most Rwandans, but unfortunately, his supporters from outside want to continue to impose his regime on Rwandans by all means, thus ignoring the suffering that he has put them into all these years. Healing, reconciliation, and justice are just empty words used by the regime to appease its foreign backers, so that they can continue to puff up its coffers under the cover of dubious reconciliation programs and “gacaca” tribunals, just to name the two. I could go on and on writing about the injustices from which rwandans who were in the country before the genocide suffer, or about the funds that were intended to help orphans and widows, but are given to others who were not even in Rwanda in 1994, or even about the plight of many now impoverished second-class citizens in their own country, while the few chosen (elite) get richer and richer. But time lacks … All I hope is that Pastor Warren really comes to his senses and realizes who he is doing business with … a dangerous beast and an accomplished servant of the devil. The church in Rwanda has often been criticized for not having done anything to prevent the genocide in the past, but still the same problem will continue to be raised with regard to the current generation of church leaders, who are in the pocket of Kagame, blessing his each and every evil enterprize.

  3. There seems to be a lot missing from the somewhat rapturous entry Kagame gets on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Kagame
    If anyone out there has a chance to edit the piece, maybe some of the issues raised here could be added to it?

  4. One piece of advice straight off the bat, don’t believe everything you hear. None of you has lived in the “intimidating” Kigali that everyone talks about…In fact, I won’t say a lot because I am biased. But i will say this, Kagame has done more for Rwanda than any leader before him. With Kagame around, I know I won’t get my head chopped off by some mad dictator who uses ethnicity to stay in power. I’ve always been against total freedom of the press, cause the child pornography becomes ok. I worked for a radio in “intimidating” Kigali and I never once felt intimidated!!! It gets on my nerves that people just make judgements like they lived through what Rwandans did. Rwandans like him (and I’m serious about that), they love his discipline and they love his no i will not suck up to you West attitude that he has. He is a great military strategist( ask Kabila & FDLR) and a great leader. All humans make mistake but trust me, I would rather live in Rwanda that in the US. so quite your nagging and buy a plane ticket to go see Rwanda and it’s beauty. Trust me, Kagame won’t wait for you at the airport to kill you!!!! I don’t think he gives a damn. Kagame oye!!!

  5. Oh ya, I forgot to say, I don’t think Kagame has anything to do with the support he gets in the Churches. He may be Christian but he’s not a radical, and I don’t think he has enough money to corrupt all the Pastors around. Rwanda has moved away from Catholiscm because of the role that the Catholic Church in the genocide-period. Nothing else. Stop blaming him for everything. Not everything is a conspiracy. All I can say is God bless Kagame. And come Rick Warren is not an idiot, he’ll quit if he’s being used. Don’t you know that they are actually FRIENDS!!!! You can trust me on that one.

  6. […] Rwanda continues to be the focus of Evangelical fascination and charitable intent. Recently we had Rick Warren’s plan to make Rwanda the first “Purpose-Driven Nation”; now there’s Hope Rwanda: ONE […]

  7. Dear Netters, Pastor Rick Warren is a bona fide American hero who, among other things, has written a book that has inspired many and has lifted them from out of the path of destruction. It is sad that such a valiant and distinguished personality and a man of God has fallen prey to the lies of ungodly Kagame. We want good and honorable Pastor Rick Warren to join the on-going fight that will liberate Rwanda from the tight grip of this criminal turned president. And yes, it’s time to call things by their names: Kagame is nothing but a criminal who must be treated as such. Pastor Warren, please don’t make Rwandans suffer one more day than necessary by supporting President Kagame. He has killed too much, he must go. Peace on earth to all of God’s people! Jean Thiery Benimana ================================ Pastor Rick Warren, Another Victim of Kagame’s lies and deception? Many believe that Pastor Warren’s love for Rwanda and the Rwandan people is genuine. He should be commended for making Rwanda the venue for launching his International Peace Plan Project. His efforts to address issues related to poverty, illiteracy, bad leadership, spiritual emptiness and epidemics such as HIV/AIDS in Rwanda should be appreciated. But one cannot help but wonder why a respectable Pastor such as Rick Warren would endorse a ruthless killer like Paul Kagame. The man nicknamed “the black Khmer” for his many similarities with Pol-Pot is one of the worst leaders alive. He has a long history of human rights abuses and crimes including mass murders. On April 6, 1994, Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Ntiyamira of Burundi fully conscious that the attack would provoke large scale massacres. In the evening of that April 6, 1994, everybody knew that if it were confirmed that the plane had been shot down, widespread violence would break out, particularly in Rwanda. Prudence Bushnell of the American Embassy in Kigali wrote exactly that to Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Washington immediately after learning of President Habyarimana’s death. “If, as it appears, both Presidents have been killed, there is a strong likelihood that widespread violence could break out in either or both countries, particularly if it is confirmed that the plane was shot down.” Most experts agree that if the plane had not been shot down, there would have been no genocide. It is as simple as that. Even Alison DesForges stated as much under oath when cross-examined as an expert witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Yet, during a recent visist to Rwanda, Pastor Rick Warren hailed President Kagame for his good leadership! “I consider Paul Kagame as an uncommon leader. I have met many leaders but this is a man of unique calibre”. And to add “He is a man who does what is right; he is a great leader who will save Rwanda. I do not know any other leader who has done what Kagame has done. He stopped the Genocide and thereafter installed reconciliation; he is a servant leader,” Rick Warren said. Maybe Pastor Warren was just being a nice guest, or maybe he was scared to tell the truth, or maybe, just maybe he is another victim of Kagame’s lies. Here is how Kagame described his dealings with potential western donors at a recent cabinet meeting: “When I meet them I humble myself and make sure the language I use reflects my true economic needs. Calling them Sirs when I have to is not a problem. You simply hold your heart in your hands and express utmost sincerity. That is the tactic. Simply that one. Yes, some of them might think that you are a fool, but by the time they realize you are not, you have already got what you wanted from them. And since they will have given it willingly, they will not feel hard-done by you.” In the future, we hope that Pastor Rick Warren and others like him will do their homework, and avoid becoming victims of Kagame’s lies. There are many respectable and independent resources one can use to learn about Kagame and his regime: the US State Department Country Report, the Amnesty International Annual Report, The International Crisis Group report, the CIA Fact Book and many others. “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time”, Abraham Lincoln once said. Independent Writer ==================================== “Each day that the likes of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda remain in power, is a sad day for humanity.” – Jean Thiery Benimana

  8. […] the lead of his best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life – I discussed that announcement here. However, an article by Andrew Paquin in Christianity Today raised a note of caution: […]

  9. […] their faith. Warren’s closeness to Paul Kagame of Rwanda is of doubtful wisdom (as I blogged here), and the Museveni regime is now showing some worrying signs (see […]

  10. […] in the evangelical imagination for a while now – last year we blogged on Rick Warren’s intention of making the country the world’s first “Purpose-Driven Nation”, an aim which has […]

  11. […] But what of the Kagame sceptics? I looked at some of the complaints against him in our first blog entry on Kagame and Warren, which can be seen here. […]

  12. I totally agree with you. Paul Kagame has got nothing to envy Hitler, and what a shame that such a bloodthirsty criminal is still received in many capitals around the world, and shakes hands with kings, queens, presidents, and prime ministers of the so called civilized world. Remember one thing: by welcoming such a ruthless killer, the world partakes in the many crimes that Kagame is responsible of around the world, and in the Great Lakes of Africa in particular. The entire world needs to know this truth.

  13. […] Museveni, as I have blogged a number of times in the past – Californian evangelist Rick Warren intends for Rwanda to become the first “Purpose-Driven Nation”, following precepts derived from […]

  14. […] influential across the border in Rwanda, which Warren wants to be the world’s first “Purpose-Driven Nation“. I explored Warren’s links with President Paul Kagame here. Possibly related posts: […]

  15. […] Marching or Demonstrating” Posted on April 10, 2008 by Richard Bartholomew In 2005, Pastor Rick Warren announced that Rwanda would become the world’s first “Purpose […]

  16. […] Africa, and his vision has been “beta-tested” (Time’s word) in Rwanda (as I blogged here and here) and Uganda (where Warren recently expressed his strong support for laws against […]

  17. […] P.E.A.C.E. plan was unveiled in 2005, as I blogged at the time, and it was initially focused on Rwanda. Warren declared that Rwanda would be the first […]

  18. […] that back in 2005, when Warren announced that The President, Paul Kagame, has invited us to help Rwanda become the […]

  19. […] In 2005, Warren had famously unveiled plans to turn Rwanda into the world’s first “Purpose-Driven Nation”, following the principles of his religious motivational-cum-management book The Purpose-Driven Life. Warren called his strategy the “PEACE Plan”, and this has since become central to his branding. As was reported in March this year: Pastor Rick Warren and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair shared an evening conversation Sunday in front of more than 2,600 people about faith, the Middle East, globalization, and 9/11. […]

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