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We Have A Redeemer Review of 'Hotel Rwanda'

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The Rwandan Genocide was the organized murder of up to one million Rwandans in 1994. It is commonly portrayed as an eruption of ethnic conflict in which militias of the Hutu ethnic majority, with the connivance of the Hutu-dominated government, attempted to carry out an ethnic cleansing of the minority Tutsis, and of Hutu moderates who opposed the genocide. Other explanations focus on the role of political elites in mobilizing and arming supporters. Despite warnings before and intelligence during the genocide about the scale of the violence, the United Nations declined to take positive action.

From Wikipedia (Rwandan_Genocide)

Hotel Rwanda (2004) is a movie about the tremendous genocide that happened in just 3 months in 1994. Don Cheadle portrays Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel general manager who saves more than 1,000 Tutsis and Hutus from murder by providing for them in the Belgian-run hotel he manages (Hotel des Mille Collines).

Two recurrent themes jump out at me from the movie Hotel Rwanda. First, that everything has a price. Paul Rusesabagina pays for his family’s and neighbors’ freedom and life by bribing an army officer, even negotiating the price for each. He is able to purchase beer and scotch for the hotel from the distributor, as long as he is willing to pay the price demanded. He consistently bribes the army general for protection for the hotel’s occupants from the armed militia. And when the bribes run out, so does the protection.

The second major theme is one of self-reliance, or absence of external help. Throughout the movie it is repeated that the “West” refuses to help or does not value the Rwandans enough to intervene in the genocide. The West’s refusal to intervene is seen when the UN peacekeeping force has orders to not use their weapons. It’s seen in the size of the UN peacekeeping force, reduced to 260 men at the beginning of the genocide and civil war in 1994. In the movie this last reduction proved a false hope for the survivors holed up in the hotel. UN ‘reinforcements’ arrive, only to evacuate many UN peacekeepers and foreign citizens from Rwanda and the hotel, respectively. There is also an episode where certain Rwandans who have foreign connections are granted visas to leave the country because of the intervention of their friends (mostly from African nations). The contrast of this action to the West’s non-intervention is stark. “Who you know” becomes a factor in survival. The distributor where Paul purchases supplies is a member of the Hutu militia. But because he knows him and has had a business relationship with him for years, he’s able (at a price) to still secure supplies for the hotel residents.

Both of these themes meet together in the Bible in a very different way. Paul Rusesabagina is a sort of messiah character who pays for the redemption of the residents of the hotel. However in the Bible, it is very clear from Romans 3 that we are hopeless and it seems like no help is coming.

10 just as it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one, 11 there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one." 13 "Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 17 and the way of peace they have not known."… For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Unlike in Hotel Rwanda, the condemned (that’s us) cannot rely on themselves to get out of this mess that is sin and death. Unlike in the movie, neither is anyone far away nor any of our friends going to help us get out of this predicament; namely that we deserve death as punishment. The Rwandans didn’t deserve the genocide that was inflicted on them. But we do deserve our punishment (Rom. 6:23). Both the good news and the bad news is that there is a price for our sin. It’s bad news, because we can’t pay it; but the good news is that someone did.

There is a redeemer; Jesus, God's own Son
Precious lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One
Thank you O my Father, for giving us your Son
And leaving your Spirit 'til the work on earth is done.

There Is A Redeemer

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

The ungodly (that’s us) have a redeemer in Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sin on the cross. Praise God for a man like Paul Rusesabagina who saved over 1,000 of his fellow Rwandans from physical death because it reminds us of the Redeemer who saves us and countless others from a far worse fate.

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation)