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as-we-forgive2In part one of my interview with Catherine Larson, she briefly refers to the story of a girl named Joy.  Her story, like Bishop John’s, is an amazing testimony to God’s grace. 

Joy was four years old when a genocide death squad butchered her father. She was hiding out in the bush with her terrified sisters as it all unfolded. “Blessedly,” Catherine writes, “it was too far for her to see the fear in her father’s eyes as he [was] caught and butchered.” What she could see, though, was fire devouring her family’s home. Catherine continues:

For a week they lived in huddled terror, cowering in the bush, her mother out of her mind with fear. Alone in the forest with seven children, her mother tried desperately to keep Joy’s youngest sister, Ingabire, just two, from alerting others to their location with her cries. The others, including Joy, were too numb to cry, too frightened. They were just still, as still as they could be in the grass . . . Only at night did they dare move, her older siblings making forays into abandoned houses to search for food while the family—walking, and sometimes crawling low to the ground—inched their way northwest to the Congo. Joy doesn’t remember the Congolese friend of her father’s who hid them at his own peril, while neighbors continued to make raids across the border searching to kill her mother. She doesn’t remember the back room in which they continued to hide for long months (62-63).

The following years would hold immensely difficult challenges: moving from place to place, being separated from her mother for months at a time, living in an orphanage, being hospitalized due to severe ulcers, and being haunted by horrible memories. But in the midst of those distressing realities, God did a wonderfully gracious work within her.  The most remarkable work took place when she was fifteen years old. Catherine writes:

Before she had felt such rage in her heart, and she couldn’t imagine forgiving the men who had killed her father. Now, not from a self-determined effort to forgive, but from some strange peace that had settled in her heart, she felt able to offer the forgiveness that had before seemed so elusive.

And the more she had come to understand the significance of the Bible’s teachings on Jesus Christ’s death, the more forgiveness seemed possible. She learned how Christ had been executed in a horrible manner, more horrible than some of the things she had seen in the war. And she learned how he willingly died to pay the penalty for her wrongdoing and for anyone else who would give up their bad ways and look to him. If Christ could forgive her, if he could forgive the people who tortured him, then Joy knew she could forgive too (86).

You can purchase As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda here.

« « Stories of Forgiveness from Rwanda (Part One) | Getting Involved: Ministries of Reconciliation in Rwanda » »

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