The success of "The Purpose Driven Life" in Rwanda is a provocative sidebar to the popularity of Rick Warren's book. In a partnership with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Warren has promoted his book since 2005 throughout the country, and Warren is part of Kagame's Presidential Council advisory board. Stating that he wanted to turn Rwanda into a "purpose driven country," Warren has held numerous rallies in Rwanda, and considers Rwanda to be his "second home."
Warren's relationship with Kagame is interesting, given Rwanda's troubled history and the Rwandan genocide. Kagame was wary of religious leadership, but "The Purpose Driven Life" presented him with an alternative blueprint for change, without a traditional religious structure.
Warren's participation in Rwanda is not much different from the 19th-century ministers who were sent to Africa to "Christianize" African people. Instead of the Bible, "The Purpose Driven Life" is now the text that changes the nation.
While their partnership may create unease in some circles, Kagame and Warren's alliance has important implications for how Christianity is shared not only as a belief, but a capitalistic endeavor. While it still too early to say if Warren's popular tome has indelibly changed the nation, it is an interesting coda to Rwanda's troubled history.
The opinions in this post are solely those of the authors.