Sermon Illustrations

Love Your Enemies: Forgiveness in Rwanda

Bishop John Rucyahana, a Tutsi Rwandan, found Christ while growing up as an exile from his native Rwanda. I like the way he describes His conversion: "I did not accept Jesus. Jesus graciously met me and accepted me." This is a man who understands how we come empty-handed to Christ.

In spite of his faith, Bishop John, a Tutsi Rwandan, had reason to hate. The Hutus in Rwanda brutally raped and killed his own niece, Madu, during the genocide of the early 1990’s.

He escaped the genocide and was in the United States in 1994 when he felt God’s call to return to Rwanda. He wanted to avoid the conflict (and his hatred) by doing ministry in Uganda instead of Rwanda. But he obeyed God’s call to face the darkness and returned to his homeland. Upon returning to Rwanda, he found sun-bleached bones littering the streets and open graves fouling the air.

Bishop John worked with others to establish Prison Fellowship Rwanda. He also helped start the Umuvumu Project, which has brought together tens of thousands of perpetrators and victims of the genocide, offering offenders the opportunity to confess their crimes and victims the chance to forgive.

In a large open area of a Rwandan prison, Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana speaks to a crowd of killers responsible for the 1994 genocide. "Close your eyes," he instructed them. "Go back in your mind to 1994. What did you see?" he asked. "What did you smell? What did you hear?"

Many in the crowd began to weep. He told the men to see their victims’ faces. The sobs grew louder. "Now," said Bishop John, "that which made you cry, that you must confess."

It’s amazing enough that Bishop John would speak to the Hutu perpetrators of the genocide. It’s even more amazing when you consider what they did to his family members. It is even more amazing to think that he is seeking to find way to offer the offenders forgiveness and reconciliation.

Source: From Chuck Colson, BreakPoint, February 2, 2009. From a sermon by Ken Pell, "Loving Your Enemies" 3/2/2009

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