Monday, February 27, 2012

The Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness Amidst a Pile of Bones

The Bishop of RwandaThe Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness Amidst a Pile of Bones by John Rucyahana with James Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First and foremost, The Bishop of Rwanda is a book about truth. It was written from the heart and soul of one who has witnessed mankind's most deplorable depravity and cruelty. Throughout the book one finds example after example of the brutal inhumanity of the Rwandan genocide of the mid-1990s. These are ugly, dark-souled truths. These are acts so sadistic and disturbing that one's heart and mind are challenged to accept them as truths. Yet, truths they are, and the evidence speaks for itself. Genocide is ugly and unspeakable. It is a truth that no one wishes to accept or acknowledge, but if Rwanda and the nations of the world are to move forward, the first thing that we must do is leave the relative safety of denial. We must accept the truth, and then we must do what is right.

Within the pages of this book, John Rucyahana and James Riordan show that truth is beautiful and uplifting. Even though this book is an indictment of the numerous failures of governments and individuals, it is also a gentle plea for forgiveness that drowns out any shouted demand for retribution. This book is an invitation for Tutsis and Hutus to find reconciliation without revenge. The Bishop of Rwanda is a chronicle of the long and arduous road to forgiveness upon which all Rwandans must travel: a road that must be taken, and a road that cannot be traveled alone. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

The survivors and the perpetrators of the genocide have been deeply affected by the horrors of those days of tumult, torture, rape, and mass murder. Because of the genocide, the perpetrators and their misguided followers must find the strength to admit their sin and ask for forgiveness. Because of the genocide, the survivors must gather the will and courage to forgive those who committed these unthinkable crimes against their neighbors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-16, NIV)

Tyler Edwards, author of Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back Into the Body of Christ, reminds us, “The truth is, the Devil's job is easy.” One need only to look at what happened in Rwanda to know this is the case. Genocides have occurred far too often throughout history, and until the world comes to recognize the signs of this evil and resolves to prevent it, there will be more genocides. The Tutsis and Hutus of John Rucyahana's homeland have suffered through the anguish of genocide. Today, through understanding, forgiveness, cooperation, and faith, Rwanda stands facing a new dawn. True peace and prosperity have become very real possibilities as a direct result of repentance, forgiveness, and faith following the genocide in Rwanda. John Rucyahana's message of peace and forgiveness serves as a guiding light for not only Rwandans, but for all of mankind. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37, NIV)

Finally, The Bishop of Rwanda is a testimony of hope and transformation. As Rwandan survivors of genocide learn to forgive those who committed these acts, the nation itself is transforming, a phoenix rising from the ashes of its own immolation. The hope for a true transformation in Rwanda is, perhaps, best summed up in the Bible: ”Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)

Some books offer profound wisdom. Some books leave a lasting impression. Some books guide mankind onto the right path. The Bishop of Rwanda does all three.

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