Churches have been blamed of failing to play their role to rescue and protect their followers during 1994 genocide against Tutsi. This has created critics that believers had lost their values.
Shortly after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, various initiatives established countrywide to promote unity and reconciliation such as Gacaca, peacebuilding initiatives as well as encouraging churches to join the journey to heal the wounded hearts and reconcile genocide survivors and perpetrators.
Some programmes were thereafter initiated for instance Isanamitima designed to encourage genocide perpetrators to apologise and genocide survivors to forgive. The programme has been witnessed to bear fruits in promoting unity and harmony among Rwandans after 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Through regular forgiveness related sermons in her Anglican church, Solange Mukanyandwi who never thought of forgiving the person who had killed her family members has thereafter decided to forgive. Mukanyandwi lives in Kigoma sector, Nyanza district.
According to her, forgiveness would sound like noise in the ears. She had never thought of shaking the hand of the man who had killed her relatives.
“My heart was so chockful. After genocide, I could not talk to anyone instead I would prefer to stay alone. It was not easy for me to think of unity among Rwandans anymore. I was later advised to join unity club in my village,” She testified.
Athanasie Nkundimana, an Adventist at Kirundo Parish, said that however it seemed difficult to reconcile with the killers, sermons have significantly changed her heart and mind.
“I believe in God’s word and I was convinced to forgive as God did for us through Jesus despite our sins. The story of Joseph who forgave his brothers although they had deceived him changed my perceptions,”Nkundimana said.
Ferdinand Mpagazehe, heading the evangelism department at Anglican Church in Kigoma sector, said that sermons in church had brought significant impacts in healing the wounds of genocide survivors and also promoted unity and reconciliation.
“Through sermons, people willingly decided to apologise and forgive. There are examples of people who united as results of the preaching in their respective churches. The outcomes of messages delivered through gospel songs and God’s words are paramount,”he added.
According to Mpagazehe, churches operating in the areas of Kigoma sector have been organizing crusades to disseminate messages on reconciliation.
Erasme Ntazinda, the mayor of Nyanza District, said that the district partners with church leaders to ensure their influence to the public brings fruits to reconciliation.