Sophie Wellbelove spent 10 days in January as part of a team from St Mellitus theological college visiting Tearfund projects in Rwanda, including peace and reconciliation work. In 1994 a wave of extreme violence swept across Rwanda and up to 1 million people were killed, mostly from the Tutsi people group, killed by Hutu extremists – the Rwandan Genocide. Sophie tells us of an encounter that showed how forgiveness can heal even the deepest wounds...
David and Juliet stood in front of me, arm in arm. My heart felt ready to explode. Because David had just shared with us how, in 1994, he joined a group of Hutu extremists seeking out and killing Tutsis – one of those he helped to slaughter was Juliet's husband.
Tenderly holding her hand, David explained how he now helps to look after Juliet and her children, and that her family had become part of his family. Between the murder and that moment so much had changed...
‘David came to my door to ask for forgiveness for what he had done,’ says Juliet. ‘I told him, no – I cannot forgive you now. But, I said, when you have this feeling in your heart once more, come back and ask again.’
Juliet must have felt grief like I could not begin to imagine, but she did not give up on being reconciled. Faced with one of her husband’s killers, she chose to forgive. David sought this forgiveness not just from Juliet, but from the whole community.
Together, they went through a process of reconciliation. It was a long journey but now they lived alongside each other in peace. The memories still hurt, but unforgiveness no longer holds the community captive.
You can read more from Sophie’s blog here: itmaywellbelove.com
- Give thanks for David and Juliet and their community, that they have chosen the path of forgiveness and reconciliation, and as that God will bless them.
- Lift up the team from St Mellitus College who encountered some hard but hopeful stories in Rwanda. Ask that God will help them to spread the message of peace and reconciliation.
- Pray for Rwanda’s continuing journey of reconciliation and healing from the terrifying events that took place more than 20 years ago. Pray for neighbouring Burundi where violence and conflict have escalated over the past year.
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