The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Aline Umegwaneza: Forgiving Genocide

By Christine McWorter
The 700 Club -April 6,1994, marked the beginning of one of the bloodiest chapters in Rwandan history. After Tutsi rebels assassinated Rwanda’s president, the government responded brutally with the genocide of an estimated 800,000 people – most of them civilians.

Aline Umegwaneza shares her story. “My name is Aline. I was 16 when the genocide began in Rwanda. It was very scary. It was very sad. We did not have hope.”

Armed with machetes and guns, government soldiers went from house to house, looking for traitors. “Every minute, day by day, they killed people. During that time, that’s when our mom told us to pack up what we need - different clothes. We didn’t want the people to come during the night to kill us.”

Aline and her family fled their village in the early morning hours. Her mom stopped to help a neighbor and said she would catch up with Aline and her younger siblings later. Soon after, Aline witnessed the unthinkable. “That’s when I started to hear the noise of guns. They shoot. One person dies here. You see another person die there.”

“Then that’s when I saw women were running to save their lives. They leave their little kids. You hear kids crying on the street. Babies, one year, two months, three months - because the people run to save their lives.”

Hours later, Aline still hadn’t seen her mother. “That’s when I start to get desperate. I start to see at 6 pm and no mom. I only see bodies. I start to think, ‘I think she died.’” Aline found out later that her mom hadbeenmurdered. 

To stay alive, she and her siblings had to keep moving. They hid in different houses until finally they found a refugee camp. But even there, they weren’t safe. “During the camp life - the camp life was bad. They were killing each other. So we were waiting to die any time in the camp.”

After only 3 months, the conflict was over. Aline returned home with her siblings, and took in a family whose house had been destroyed. But the family wanted Aline’s property for themselves.  One day when Aline was away, the family killed her brothers and sisters. “They killed them.”

Aline knew that if she didn’t leave, she would be next. So she went on the run again, with no idea where to go. She ran into an old classmate, whose family took her in. “It was a good family. They are wealthy. They have everything. We used to go to the lake. They had money. But, we lost over 75 members of my family, alone. I was angry at that time for losing my people. I had this bit of bitterness in me.”

Aline bonded with the girl’s mother, Sylvia, who told her about Jesus. Soon, Aline began going to church. She accepted Christ as her Savior, but she was still bitter toward the people who murdered her family. She tried again and again to forgive, but couldn’t. “Every time I go to the church, they speak about forgiveness. I said, ‘What about the people who have killed my family, my siblings, the people who burned my mom alive, the people who cut my family into pieces, who crushed my siblings with a stone and crushed their head like a snake?’”

Aline says she was finally able to forgive them when she read a verse in the Bible. “I used to think I was the one who is right. They were wrong. Until I read Matthew 6:14-15, ‘If you don’t forgive others, God will not forgive you.’”

Aline says afterwards God gave her a peace she never had before. Today, she’s a missionary and a preacher. She believes that no matter what has been done to you, Christ can help you forgive.

“After forgiving those people completely, I started to help other people. It’s like joy came in my life. I have a joy inside of me… And compassion – before I did not have compassion. Today I help the people around the world, different nations.”

“Jesus set me free.”

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