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“‘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 faithchoose to forgivedenounce evildecide to live for Jesusclaim 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 Note From the Publisher
“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
“Fr. Ubald lives and proclaims a message of freedom and healing that is greatly needed in the Church today. The whole world has heard of the genocide in Rwanda; now it is time for the world to hear the story of redemption happening there. This is a hopeful and inspiring message.”
Founder of Heart of the Father Ministries and author of Unbound
“‘In the name of Jesus, I forgive you.’ 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.” Christina Lynch Director of psychological services St. John Vianney Theological Seminary “In our work with Renewal Ministries, we have known and worked with Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga since 2005. In that time, we have seen how the five keys explored in Forgiveness Makes You Free have healed and set thousands free.”
Lloyd and Nancy Greenhaw
Country coordinators for Renewal Ministries
“With each turn of the page, I yearned evermore to experience the peace Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga preached—a peace that comes from forgiving what seems humanly impossible to forgive; a peace that comes when we release the wounds of the past, especially the wounds that were inflicted by those closest to us; a peace that surpasses all understanding. Through powerful and poignant stories, Fr. Ubald allowed me to step into his shoes and showed me how to walk in forgiveness and mercy, two actions that bring freedom and healing and result in peace and joy. If you have ever had your faith shaken by suffering, struggled with forgiveness, or longed for the peace of Christ to rule your heart, this book is for you!”
Kelly M. Wahlquist
Founder of WINE: Women In the New Evangelization
“This dramatic and heart-wrenching personal retelling of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 calls all of its readers to spiritual healing. Only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can true freedom in lasting peace be found. In Forgiveness Makes You Free, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga shares many stories of people from all over the world, including Europe and America, who came to true forgiveness and offered it to others.”
Most Rev. David L. Ricken
Bishop of Green Bay
“Forgiveness Makes You Free is a poignant testament to the experience and power of forgiveness even in the face of horrific events. Fr. Ubald’s reflections on forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation highlight both their distinctive features and their interrelationship in the context of peace and justice.”
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Peace Studies University of Notre Dame