As We Forgive

CHARLES COLSON

"Can a country known for radical brutality become a country known for an even more radical forgiveness?"

That's the question BreakPoint's own Catherine Claire Larson asks in her new book, As We Forgive.

Larson, whose book was inspired by the award-winning documentary film of the same name, paints a gripping picture of the Tutsi survivors of genocide, who in 1994 endured 100 days of unimaginable violence at the hands of their Hutu neighbors. In just three months, nearly a million people were shot, macheted, raped, and tortured. The survivors lost everything -- homes, families, hope.

But that was only their first trial. Seven years after the storm, the Rwandan government started releasing from prison more than 70,000 perpetrators of genocide.

Larson vividly describes the dreadful decision the survivors had to make. The people who had destroyed their lives were returning. Would they choose fear and hate? Or forgiveness and reconciliation?

As Larson writes so beautifully, many are choosing forgiveness. Take the story of Rosaria. Her sister and her two children were pummeled to death by a group of Hutu men from their village. Among them was a man named Saveri.

While in prison Saveri heard the Gospel. He repented of his cruelty, and through a reconciliation program begun by Prison Fellowship Rwanda, asked Rosaria for forgiveness. After a series of painful meetings, she forgave him -- freeing him from despair, and herself from the coils of hatred.

Later, Saveri, along with other repentant killers, built homes for Rosaria and other survivors. "Hands that had once swung machetes in violence," Larson writes, "now smooth clay bricks in peace."

Or take the stories of Devota and Monique, both of whom lost all of their children in the genocide. With the help of Christian volunteers, they came to understand that Christ not only bears their sin, but their pain. And once they gave their pain to Christ, they actually sought out their perpetrators -- and forgave them.

One of the most poignant stories Larson tells is of the children of the Nyange School. These children, Hutus and Tutsis, had become close friends in the wake of the genocide. When Hutu militia invaded their classroom, their love for Christ and each other was put to the ultimate test. The Hutu militiamen ordered all the Tutsis to one side, all the Hutus to the other. The students refused to move. Many of them were shot because of their love and faithfulness to one another.

If that love, that forgiveness, can be so strong in such darkness, then it is possible for all of us. Possible for the husband who continues to put his heart on the line when his wife has grown cold to him. Possible for the church deacon who won't ignore the growing rift in the congregation, but who seeks to be a mediator. Possible for the daughter who refuses to let her mother's stinging criticisms keep her from loving her.

Ultimately, what Larson shows us in As We Forgive is that of all human actions, forgiveness is perhaps the most powerful mirror of Christ's love.

And that love is reflected so well in this marvelous book.

 


For Further Reading and Information

As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda
Catherine Claire Larson

Discourse #7: 'As We Forgive'
Stephen Reed | BreakPoint Online | February 18 2009

We Are All Rwandans: An Excerpt from As We Forgive
Catherine Claire Larson | BreakPoint Online | February 18 2009

As We Forgive website

Perpetual Journey: One Snapshot along Rwanda's Long Road to Reconciliation
Catherine Claire Larson | BreakPoint Online | December 18 2007

Love Your Enemies: John Rucyahana Receives Wilberforce Award
Chuck Colson | BreakPoint Commentary | January 30 2009.




ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Charles Colson. "As We Forgive." BreakPoint Commentary July 28, 2009.

This commentary originally aired March 11, 2009.

From BreakPoint ® Copyright 2009, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-0500. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint ®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries ®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

THE AUTHOR

Charles Colson launched Prison Fellowship in 1976, following a seven-month prison sentence for Watergate-related crimes. Since then, Prison Fellowship has flourished into a U.S. ministry of 50,000 volunteers and has spread to more then 50 countries. Beyond his prison ministry, Colson is a Christian author, speaker, and commentator, who regularly confronts contemporary values from a biblically informed perspective. His "BreakPoint" radio commentaries now air daily across the U.S. and he has written 15 books, including The Faith: Given Once, For All What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters, God & Government, Loving God, Answers to Your Kids' Questions, The Line Between Right & Wrong: Developing a Personal Code of Ethics, Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages, and How Now Shall We Live: A Study Guide.

Copyright © 2009 Breakpoint




Subscribe to CERC's Weekly E-Letter

 

 

Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.