Although a man murdered nearly all of a woman’s family in the Rwandan genocide, they’re now next-door neighbours. He says, “Ever since I [confessed] my crimes and ask[ed] her for forgiveness, she has never once called me a killer. . . . She has set me free.”
Forgiveness and restoration lie at the heart of Prison Fellowship’s Rwanda project in founding reconciliation villages where victims and perpetrators live together. A representative remarked that for Rwanda to heal, people can’t avoid each other when they move back to their old neighbourhoods, but need to “confront their innermost feelings . . . so suffering and anger” don’t rise up again.
This true story of seemingly impossible forgiveness reminds us of the book of Hosea in the Old Testament. When Hosea’s wife left him, returning to an unfaithful lifestyle, the Lord asked him to “go and love your wife again” to “illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel” (Hosea 3:1). In a culture where taking back an unfaithful wife was nearly unthinkable, Hosea chose to follow God’s example of extending forgiveness.
Seeking forgiveness and reconciliation can be incredibly difficult. Healing broken relationships entails not only repentance from the offending person and grace from the one forgiving, but hard work from both to rebuild trust. For Hosea and Gomer’s marriage to heal, it was necessary for Gomer to commit to renewed faithfulness (Hosea 3:4). In the Rwandan reconciliation villages, regular disciplines of conflict resolution have been necessary to establish the path to gradual healing.
Although seeking reconciliation can be a difficult road to walk, it’s also the path to freedom and joy. May it be so for us as we live in a world torn by strife.
This passage first appeared on http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/