Rwanda is a beautiful land of high mountains, deep valleys, rushing torrents, and blue lakes dotted with green islands. But from 1959 to 1962, life in Rwanda was painful because of violence, arson, looting, and lawlessness.

The Hutu, a hardworking farming tribe, had been dominated for 300 years by the Tutsi tribe who were proud and educated cattle-herders. When Rwanda was struggling to become an independent nation, the Hutu rebelled against the Tutsi and fighting broke out between them. In the midst of this violence, some Christians put Jesus above their tribe and nation.

In one area during the day, the Hutu burned the Tutsi houses. At night the Tutsi retaliated by burning the Hutu homes. People of both sides were either dying or becoming refugees. Many of the homeless fled to the church center of Pastor Daniel. Though old and suffering from asthma, the pastor did what he could to help the refugees.

One morning, Daniel was warned that a band of ruffians was coming to attack the refugees. He called the people from the school buildings where they were camping and assembled them in the church. When they were inside, Daniel locked the church doors and prayed to God for protection. Then he said to the people, "You are in God's house. No matter what happens, you must not fight."

The attackers arrived and tried to break down the doors. The thick wood was too strong for them, so they climbed up onto the roof and removed part of it. Three of them got inside the church and began to beat up the refugees. The crowd of refugees could easily have killed these few men.

Daniel, scarcely able to breathe because of his asthma, said to the refugees, "Remember, we are Christians. We can't fight."

The refugees allowed the attackers to kick and beat them. After a few minutes of hitting and kicking unresisting people, the attackers gave up, and shamefacedly left.

The weapon of love was stronger than the weapon of hate.

One old Tutsi Christian woman who lost everything when her home was burned had to flee to another area. Even though she knew she should forgive those who had destroyed her home, she was unable to do so. She felt she must have revenge.

One dark night, she found her way back to where she had lived. She knew who had burned her house, and she had with her a box of matches to set fire to their house. Quietly, she approached the house and slid open her matchbox. It was completely empty! She threw it down and fled again, this time arriving in a refugee camp in the neighboring country of Tanganyika, now Tanzania.

One day, two Hutu Christians came to the camp of Tutsi refugees. It was hard for them to come among their "enemies," but God wanted them to share his love with the Tutsi. One of those gathering around the visitors to listen to them was the old woman. She saw the love of Jesus in the visitors' faces and the unity between Hutu Christians and Tutsi Christians. Her heart softened.

The next day, she stood up in a meeting and told everyone, "I have repented of my hatred of the Hutu who burned my house. I praise the Lord that he kept me from destroying my enemy's house by seeing that my box of matches was empty."

 

From: They loved their enemies by Marian Hostetler, pag. 66-68, 1988, Herald Press,  Scottdale, Pa, USA

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