Rwandan women tell of forgiving genocide
Forgiveness doesn't come much deeper or wider than Colette Mukandoli gave it. During the horrific 100 days of bloody genocide in 1994 in Rwanda that left a million or more dead, Mukandoli's two sons, ages 5 and 6, were hacked to death by machete-...
Forgiveness doesn't come much deeper or wider than Colette Mukandoli gave it.
During the horrific 100 days of bloody genocide in 1994 in Rwanda that left a million or more dead, Mukandoli's two sons, ages 5 and 6, were hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers.
It was mostly an attempt by the majority Hutus to wipe out Tutsis.
"She knows them, they were her neighbors," said Solange Uwituze, of the attackers, as she served as an interpreter for Mukandoli on Sunday at Faith Evangelical Free Church in Grand Forks and in an interview later.
Mukandoli was a church-goer, but not "born again," she said and like so many, was plagued by depression and anger and hate.
Then one of her sons' killers, after converting to Christianity in prison, sought her out.
"He kneeled down in front of her and asked for forgiveness," she said. In what she says was something that could come only from God, she forgave the man and her life began to change.
"She says she is a miracle at work," Uwituze said, as Mukandoli smiled and looked down at the table.
Uwituze, 38, knows the feeling.
During the same 100 days, she saw her older brother "eaten by dogs," loosed on him by murderous attackers. Her father and younger brother were shot to death by her father's former students.
Uwituze, Mukandoli and Drocella Nduwimana, 50, and Kayisime Nzaramba, 41, (one who didn't lose loved ones in the killing) spoke Sunday as part of three weeks speaking in the region.
They are leaders in Shalom Ministries, formed only months after the genocide.
Shalom began by "widows and other women crying and weeping in their bedrooms ... women who wanted to pray to God but who didn't feel comfortable in church," because so many religious leaders took part in the genocide or looked the other way, Uwituze said.
God answered their prayers, sent the Holy Spirit to comfort them, with "Jesus Christ and His gospel of peace, she said. Now they want to share their message and burden.
Kristen Wilde, a member of Faith who met the women 18 months ago in Rwanda, said she's overwhelmed by the power of their story and has started an American membership in Shalom Ministries.
"They suffered so much," Wilde said. To forgive so much, "it's huge," Wilde said. "Here, we so often can't forgive someone if they hurt our feelings at work."
It's divine, Uwituze said.
"How else could you extend your hand to the people who killed your children, if not by God's grace?"
But it's not cheap grace, the women said.
"Forgiveness does not mean that people should not own their own wrongdoing," Uwituze said. "But there also is room for forgiveness and being given a second chance."
Rwanda is a safe place now, and partly through the government's reconciliation tribunals and also because of God moving in people, there is no talk anymore of former ethnic rivalries that led to so much death, the women said.
"We all are Rwandese," Uwituze said. Shalom is non-denominational, and works with people from all congregations, she said.
Since they arrived in Grand Forks on July 10, Wilde has helped bring them to speaking dates in Karlstad, Minn., Crookston and Hoople, Minn., and Valley Christian Center in Grand Forks, as well as Faith Evangelical Free.
"They got a standing ovation today," Wilde said, about the only one she can remember at the fairly staid church with Scandinavian roots. "It's all to Jesus' glory."
They return home July 29.
The women's message is not only for Rwanda, Uwituze said.
"It's to say that the greatness of God can take ashes and turn it to an ever-green garden ... Many in Rwanda need to hear that, and many in America."
On the Web: For more information, go to www.shaloministries.org .
Call Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1237; or send email to email@example.com .