He didn't win a medal. But it's to our loss if we mainly focus on the winners (who deserve our attention) and lose sight of other heroes who crossed the finish line against all odds, albeit not in the first three spots.
Adrien Niyonshuti, the lone Rwandan biker at the 2012 Olympics, is one of those inspiring stories. Medal or not, we need to hear his story.
Last April, when I was in Colorado Springs for the Generous Giving conference, I was blown away by a preview of Rising From Ashes, the documentary about Team Rwanda—a remarkable group of Rwandan youths who survived the genocide, but not without the catastrophic loss of family members and neighbors. Yet, instead of caving in to the traumas that have permanently scarred their young lives, these young men turned their energies to mountain biking. This is a powerfully redemptive story, not just for the young Rwandans, but also for the men who entered their lives as advocates, mentors, and sponsors.
Here's the trailer:
Rising From Ashes from T.C. Johnstone on Vimeo.
Twenty-five year old Adrien Niyonshuti was the only one who qualified for the Olympics.
I'm usually trumpeting efforts to empower women and girls to rise from the ashes of suffering, trafficking, poverty, and oppression to lead productive flourishing lives and to discover God's love for them when Christians are actively involved on their behalf. Experts document the difference now being made in their lives and how benefits to them change the lives of their children, their communities, and beyond. I intend to continue sounding the alarm and to highlight efforts to change things for women—for us to spread Jesus' gospel in all of its fullness.
Team Rwanda is a powerful reminder that boys and men, both here and abroad, need that same kind of advocacy too and that the benefits multiply when they are empowered to flourish. The Olympics may be over. But the ripple effect of Team Rwanda continues—giving Rwandans a renewed sense of national pride and hope for the future.
Here are before and after accounts of Adrien's Olympic effort:
- The Guardian, "London 2012: Rwandan mountain biker rides to banish genocide memory"
- The Wall Street Journal, "A Long, Amazing Ride to the Olympics"