WHEN the 1994 genocide took place in Rwanda, Louis Muvunyi was
across the border, studying at a Bible college in Tanzania. An
estimated 800,000 people were killed during the course of 100 days,
including his three brothers. He was left battling the urge to pack
his bags and abandon his studies.
"Sometimes I was angry," he said on Tuesday. "How would I preach
love, forgiveness, and reconciliation? I was very bitter."
Twenty years later, as Bishop of Kigali, he is able to feel pity
for the killers he visits in prison: "They are also human beings.
They tell of the dreams and horrors they go through...They want to
ask for forgiveness so that they don't die with blood on their
Bishop Muvunyi is in the UK for a week, to publicise his
partnership with the charity Samaritan's Purse, which is helping
churches and communities in Rwanda to tackle poverty. There are
currently 1660 families in the Raising Families programme, which
encourages people to form community-action groups and pool
"It is revisiting the mission of the Church, which is to be a
solution to spiritual and physical needs," he said. The Church had
in the past failed to appreciate its part in addressing the latter:
"There was the theology that the spirit is good, and the material
is evil, looking heavenwards without looking into their
surroundings...God is not just concerned with our spiritual needs,
he is concerned with our material needs as well."
He described how pooling money had enabled women to buy
mattresses, instead of having to sleep on the ground, and financed
smallbusinesses. It was "very easy" to preach healing and
reconciliation to such groups, because "already, they see that they
need one another".
Reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the genocide, he
acknowledged that the Church had been implicated in the massacres,
both by failing to speak out, and, in some cases, participating in
"After the genocide, people had refused to come back to the
Church, because even the churches became centres of killing." It
had been important to hear church leaders issue a public apology,
"In every corner of the country there is a church. Even if under
a tree or in bushes or a small hut, people are praying. The Church
The Church was working with the government on healing and
reconciliation, but it must be "vigilant, and remain prophetic.
There is so much we can learn from previous leaders who did not
behave well...The Church is ready to speak out; nobody wants the
country to go back to what we experienced."
Next month, "Kwibuka (Remember) 20" will take place: it is a
worldwide series of events that mark the anniversary of the
genocide. In Rwanda, a national torch of remembrance has been on
tour since 7 January. On 7 April, the President, Paul Kagame, will
use it to light the National Flame of Mourning.
Rwanda makes extradition request. The
Rwandan government has asked Britain to extradite a pastor at
Fountain Church, Ashford, Kent, Dr Celestin Mutabaruka. He is
accused of having been the leader of a Hutu militia that hacked
Tutsi people to death during the genocide. On Tuesday of last week,
Westminster Magistrates Court heard witness statements supporting
the charges. Dr Mutabaruka denies any part in the genocide.