How can you forgive someone who murdered your loved one? In 1994, 800,000 people died in 100 days in the Genocide in Rwanda. What the country has been doing to recover from the trauma is nothing short of miraculous. On the one hand, they vow to remember. Sites of the Genocide such as the church at Nyamata were preserved. Murderers were judged in courts and sent to prison. Those 100 days were remembered every year. On the other hand, the government, the churches and many organisations work together to reconcile the antagonists. I asked Pastor Albert, the AEE staff in charge of their effort in reconciliation, to speak with our students about it.
AEE itself experienced terrible personal trauma in the Genocide. Their leader then was a Hutu but spoke against the persecution of the Tutsi. As a result, he was killed at the beginning of the Genocide in 1994. The current team leader has 2 children of his own, but over the years has raised 20+ children of relatives, left uncared for after the Genocide. One staff who drove us to Gicaca last week was from Nyamata, with his wife and 2 children murdered in the very church that we visited. Pastor Albert had to flee the country for education and for his own safety. His father was told not to return to his job on day in 1973 because he was a Tutsi. A senior staff was shot protecting others who were about to be murdered; fortunately he survived and recovered.
Pastor Albert himself hated all Hutus until he was transformed by faith in Christ. Faith is also the basis of AEE’s work in reconciliation. He now believes that there are good Hutus and bad Hutus, just like there are good Tutsis and bad Tutsis, there are good people in Hong Kong and bad people in Hong Kong. Many Christians were implicated in the Genocide, when the population was nominally 90+ % Christian. Why is Christianity so popular in Rwanda today, many of whom are of the Evangelical denominations? Why don’t people feel that God has abandoned them? - one of our students asked. Pastor Albert said it is perhaps because many people have been transformed by God’s love. The love of Jesus Christ is so powerful that it enables us to forgive.
Evidently, many of our students are touched by his testimony and sharing. I encouraged our students to keep Rwanda in their hearts.