- Josh Anderson
Journey Towards Peace
Alex Nsengimana attends theHeart and recently he shared with us his heartwarming story of how he received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox as a young boy living in an orphanage in Rwanda. But there's more to his story. Watch as he meets and offers forgiveness to the man who murdered his family.
Perhaps you've heard about the genocide in Rwanda? Nearly one million horrific murders were committed in 1994 as the Hutu people tried to completely annihilate the Tutsi tribe. But this horrific story doesn't end there. God is transforming it into a powerful display of forgiveness, with Alex Nsengimana setting an inspirational example for his country and people.
“Nsengimana” means “I pray to God” in Kinyarwanda, one of the local dialects spoken in Rwanda. Alex is certainly living up to his name.
In his 30 years of life, God has guided Alex's steps along a remarkable journey that includes miraculous escapes from death during the genocide. It also includes receiving a shoebox gift through Operation Christmas Child—a gift that helped bring him to faith in Christ and led to Alex's desire to one day return to Rwanda to plant a church and minister to the people who killed his family.
Just a few years ago, Alex visited the village where he grew up. He delivered shoebox gifts to children unaware of past distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi, and who do not feel the same hatred toward their neighbors as the generations who came before them.
“We are all Rwandans,” said Alex, when asked how Tutsi victims are able to live side-by-side with Hutus who slaughtered their families and friends. “We speak one language.”
One-quarter of a century after the genocide, many Rwandans are able to overlook old tribal, political, and economic divisions that played a large part in the war. But others still face a daily struggle as they watch murderers walking free on the streets. Those who killed husbands, wives, children, and parents may pass victims’ family members at the market, school, even church.
With God’s grace and Christ’s example of forgiveness, Alex believes that his nation can be reconciled. During his visit to Rwanda, Alex reinforced his words with actions by offering forgiveness, in person, to the man who killed his uncle.
"I share my story not to call attention to myself but to glorify God and honor all the extraordinary things He has done in my life."—Alex Nsengimana
When Alex faced the man who was a neighbor and friend and became a murderer, he uttered words of forgiveness and redemption through Jesus. Immediately a heavy burden Alex had carried for decades lifted from his chest.
“I’m not here to accuse you, though you wronged me. But I’m here to do something else,” Alex said, the next words catching in his throat as he began to cry. “I am here because I saw how God’s power works in forgiveness. I received that power. I really want to forgive you so you have peace and you also repent of everything. I want you to know that even after all the things you did, all the people you killed and hurt, God, wants you to come back to Him.”
"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."—Hebrews 8:12
The grace of God was tangible as Alex knelt side-by-side with the man who brutally beat and murdered his uncle.
Alex placed his hand on the prisoner's back and said, “Father, I pray you’ll bless him.” He then stuttered out a prayer, overcome by emotion. “I pray your Spirit will be with him and protect him, and he’ll have the peace that comes through You.”
*Video and story courtesy of Samaritan's Purse
Love In Action
theHeart is committed to putting our love into action. That is why on a regular basis, we partner with organizations like Operation Christmas Child to help make a real difference in the High Country and around the world. You can visit theheart.us/love-in-action for the most current ways you can join our church family as we attempt to love "with actions and in truth". Or you can receive notifications directly to your smartphone when you download our app. Text "theheart app" to 77977.