By Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga
“‘Jesus, where are you?’ I prayed every night as I wept . . . I felt I had failed as a priest, for I had preached love and the people made genocide. . . .Then I heard God speak to me. Jesus wanted me to use these experiences to evangelize later. It was then that I knew my life would be spared. God would make a way.”
During the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga tells the dramatic story of how he survived while losing more than eighty of his family members and 45,000 of his parishioners in the killings. In the aftermath, Fr. Ubald experienced a renewed sense of purpose as a minister of reconciliation and a healing evangelist in his homeland and around the world. In Forgiveness Makes You Free, he offers five spiritual principles that can help those traumatized by the past to experience healing and peace in Christ.
In 1994 the world looked on in disbelief and horror as Rwanda erupted in violent bloodshed. All across the landlocked African country, militant Hutus rose up to exterminate the Tutsi population, including women and young children. One hundred days later, a million bodies littered fields, streets, and even churches. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, a powerful testimony emerges of the power of God to bring peace and reconciliation into hearts full of fear and hate.
In Forgiveness Makes You Free, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga shares his own dramatic story of how he survived the genocide and its traumatic aftermath. He testifies about how God spared his life so that he might help others with deep physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds to experience peace and healing. In retelling the story of how he forgave the man who killed his family and cared for the man’s children while he was in prison, Fr. Ubald demonstrates how showing mercy can facilitate true forgiveness even in the most painful circumstances of our lives.
Throughout the book, Fr. Ubald teaches about five spiritual keys that draw us to Christ, the only source of lasting peace:
- be thankful and have faith
- choose to forgive
- denounce evil
- decide to live for Jesus
- claim the blessing
Each chapter combines Fr. Ubald’s story with reflection questions that guide readers along their own path of healing: from fear to faith, from shame to freedom, from isolation to reconciliation, from resentment to mercy, and from conflict to peace.
The final chapter offers a guided meditation to help those who need to experience the power of God to release those held in bondage by fear and hate and to find the secret of peace. An appendix contains information about “The Mushaka Reconciliation Project,” a catechetical tool that has been used successfully by parishes in Rwanda, and could easily be adapted by parishes in the United States, to mediate reconciliation between individuals and groups who have become estranged by violence, trauma, and ethnic or cultural divisions.
"A gift of mercy from the hand of God."
"Forgiveness Makes You Free is a gift of mercy from the hand of God. It tells the story of a priest who learned, step by step, to follow after Jesus and to present himself as a ‘living offering’ to God, who learned how to pray, how to forgive, how to resist the enemy, and how to receive the gifts God wanted to give him. Above all, it shows how he learned to follow after Jesus, no matter how much it cost him."
From the foreword by Immaculée Ilibagiza
Author of Left to Tell
"A hopeful and inspiring message."
"Fr. Ubald lives and proclaims a message of freedom and healing that is greatly needed in the Church today. This is a hopeful and inspiring message."
Founder of Heart of the Father Ministries and author of Unbound
"An emotional and courageous story."
"Fr. Ubald’s emotional and courageous story of forgiveness spoke to my heart. His painful yet joyful journey of mercy has borne fruit, annunciating how the healing power of forgiveness can set you free and turn enemies into brothers and sisters in Christ."
Director of psychological services at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary
"Dramatic and heart-wrenching."
"This dramatic and heart-wrenching personal retelling of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 calls all of its readers to spiritual healing."
Most Rev. David L. Ricken
Bishop of Green