Saturday, July 25, 2009

Healing and Reconciliation

Words cannot describe the three days I have just experienced…I would never have guessed that I would spend time and begin to care about men who murdered 1000s of people. Many were truly sorry for what they had done while others just went through the motions so they could be released from jail.

There were over 50 perpetrators and 10 victims who came together for a three day seminar sponsored by REACH (Reconciliation Evangelism and Christian Healing). This is the same organization that I wrote about earlier when I attended the dedication of CUP (Center of Unity and Peace) in Kigali.
The choir provided inspiration and joyfulness throughout the event by performing the songs they wrote and choreographed.

I gained so many insights into why people were lead to kill their family, friends and neighbors. Very few knew that Belgium issued identity cards based on how many cows you owned, or the shape of your head, and that it was possible to become a Tutsi is you acquired more cows. This was the root cause of the conflicts between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes who had always lived in harmony. They were given a short history lesson to set the stage for the small group discussions where they would share their stories. There were many biblical messages and sermons on repentance and forgiveness to encourage dialogue so they could reach reconciliation.

They viewed a video that many of them were featured in entitled “Building Houses of Forgiveness”. One of the public service projects they participate in is the building of houses for the victims. This group has constructed 22 houses for the victims in the Eastern Province. It is the process of building the house and getting to know the victims so they can live in peace in the same village.

I will not share their testimonies because they were too personal and I could not possibly do them justice. I will show some group shots of the event because they agreed to allow us to use their photographs. Some of their testimonies will be used in a documentary produced by a group from Cambridge MA on does the reconciliation process really work?

The event ended on a hopeful note when the seven ministers (several different denominations) prayed over the victims and perpetrators who asked for healing and peace.

Personally, I could not believe how they reach forgiveness and reconciliation where murder, disfigurement, rape, and being infected with HIV through rape are involved when it is difficult for me to forgive family, friends and co-workers for trivial things.

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