A few hours outside of Rwanda’s capital of Kigali stands a unique village. The bumpy roads that lead to it are nothing compared with the agonizing journey its residents took to get there.
You see, this village was built entirely by the sweat and volunteer labor of repentant offenders—by men and women who participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The smooth brick walls and smart tin roofs now house genocide survivors—men and women who lost loved ones in the genocide, which left nearly a million Tutsi dead in just 100 days. Today in this village, survivors and repentant offenders live together in peace, having forgiven one another and been reconciled.
This is just one example of how Prison Fellowship is bringing healing to Rwanda, and a reminder that only the biblical worldview provides the necessary healing for all the divisions which tear our world apart.
An outstanding documentary film, entitled As We Forgive, features two residents of this Prison Fellowship village—Rosaria and Saveri. The filmmaker, Laura Waters Hinson, was captivated by how Prison Fellowship Rwanda’s efforts led Saveri to repentance for murdering Rosaria’s sister and two children during the genocide. With the help of PF Rwanda, he sought out Rosaria to seek her forgiveness, and to help her begin to rebuild her life. Literally.
The film also captures Rosaria’s agonizing struggle to reach the point where she could forgive Saveri. It is a moving scene in a very powerful film.
The film has already aired nationwide on PBS and earned a gold medal from the Academy Awards for best student documentary.
Beginning February 17th, filmmaker Hinson and Prison Fellowship International are partnering in the “40 days of 4-giveness campaign.” During the 40 days leading up to Easter, they are encouraging churches, universities, and small groups to host screenings of the film to launch discussions about the power of radical forgiveness. Through these screenings, participants will not only be challenged to think about Christ’s call to repentance and forgiveness, but also to help fund 40 more homes to be built by repentant genocide offenders for survivors.
During Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, Christians have historically practiced “giving up” something to focus their minds on what Christ gave up on the cross. This campaign, however, encourages us instead to give—to give the gift of truth if we have wronged someone and the gift of mercy if we have been wronged.
It also encourages us to give the gift of hope to these Rwandans who are trying to rebuild their lives and give back to their country. The “four” gives—give truth, give mercy, give hope, and give back—make up the heart of this unique forgiveness campaign. To find out more how you can host a screening, whether in your home, community, or church or to find out how you can give to this campaign, visit us at BreakPoint.org.
And whatever you do, use these 40 days leading up to Easter to meditate on forgiveness. Because in the passion of Christ, we have not only the ultimate picture of forgiveness, but the ultimate motivation for why we too should forgive, for how societies can be healed.