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As We Forgive Interview (Part Two)

by Dan Cruver Published May 5, 2009

catherine2Here’s the second half of my 2-part interview with Catherine Claire Larson about her book As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda. Our primary focus is on the children who became orphans of the genocide.  You can read part 1 here

If you haven’t yet purchased a copy of As We Forgive, let me strongly encourage you to do so. It is an exceptional book. 

4.  I loved the story of Bishop John and the school for orphans that he founded. What I found remarkable is that his school became “a place where Hutu and Tutsi children would live and grow together” (p. 71). I couldn’t help think about Ephesians 2 where Paul talks about the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles that Jesus broke down through his death (Ephesians 2:14-16). The story of Bishop John’s school is a wonderful picture of the “one new man” that Jesus created in himself. Is that a connection that Rwandans have made?

I think in certain places, Rwandans have definitely made that connection. In one of the stories I tell about a school that was attacked by rebels three years after the genocide, many of the students inside had really latched onto this sense of higher identity in Christ. When these rebels demand that the students separate into Hutu and Tutsi, all of them, without exception refused. When asked if they were Hutu or Tutsi, they replied, “We are just Rwandan.” The rebels finally threw grenades into their classroom and many of them were killed. But the more significant wall that came down that day was a living picture of that dividing wall of hostility among the students. The wall was gone because so many of them understood their higher identity in Christ. They were willing to face death rather than betray their classmates. And many of them did.

5.  One more question about Claude. The watershed “moment” in his struggle to forgive those who killed his family came when Claude “heard that God had not left him as an orphan, but had given him the Holy Spirit,” and was reminded “that he was a member of the household of God, adopted by a loving eternal Father” (pp. 248-249). Would you discuss how that was a decisive moment for Claude in his journey toward forgiveness?

Imagine for a moment the loneliness that a thirteen year-old would feel having lost every member of his extended family, except his sister. Claude had been walking around for years with this incredible sense of loneliness. I think in part, the desire for vengeance, was a coping mechanism to keep him from feeling the depths of this profound sadness. When he learned that he was adopted by God—and when he had that spiritual reality really re-enforced through the real tangible expression of the embrace of what he describes as “the family” Solace became for him, I think it enabled him to begin the journey of healing.

6.  More and more churches are interested in serving orphans like those of Rwanda’s genocide. What are some things churches in the U.S. can do to visit Rwanda’s orphans in their affliction (James 1:27)? Are there some ways that we can partner with Rwanda’s churches to serve their orphans?

There are several groups that I’m aware of and probably more that I don’t know about who are working with Rwandan orphans. One that I can definitely vouch for is the Sonrise School/Orphanage that Bishop John began. People can very practically help support these orphans by sponsoring a child in either the primary or the secondary school. This is one of the best schools in the country and it is 80% genocide or AIDS orphans. Their website is I also have information on Solace as well as many other groups dedicated more generally to reconciliation work available on my own website:

My brother’s church has a sister church in Rwanda. I’m sure that many Rwandan churches would be very open to developing such a partnership with an American church. That way one church could partner one-to-one with a church as they meet the very real needs of widows and orphans in their community.

Most of the genocide orphans I interviewed in my book are now reaching young adulthood. You can pray for them in several ways: 1) that God would guard their hearts from a spirit of revenge, and would instead give them hearts for Him and for unity and forgiveness, 2) that God would help them in their educational needs as the trauma that so many experienced made schooling a severe challenge and therefore higher education an even harder stretch for many of them. (This has been a recurring theme with many that I interviewed). 3) that God would set them in families of some kind (Ps. 68:6).

Thanks again for having me join you on Together for Adoption. I pray that if people read the book or just peruse this Q&A that God will move them to know Him more deeply and live out His ways more fully.

As We Forgive Interview Part One

« « I Saw What I Saw | Stories of Forgiveness from Rwanda (Part One) » »

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