Sunday, July 7, 2019


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***Click on the link to watch the Christiane Amanpour interview with Denise Uwimana in April of 2019.

****Click on link to order Denise Uwimana’s FROM RED EARTH:  A RWANDAN STORY OF HEALING AND FORGIVENESS

CRC Blog Analysis on  FROM RED EARTH:  A Rwandan Story of Healing and Forgiveness by Denise Uwimana:   

“A Girl Experiences God’s Glory Amongst the Rwandan Genocide”

The first time Tutsi Rwandan native Denise Uwimana remembers experiencing God’s glory was in 1970 when at the age of six she and her older brother Phocas got the family heavy Bible and read it. (1962 Map of Rwanda)

     She experienced God’s protection in 1975 at the age of eleven when she encountered an eight foot black mamba coiled on the earth floor of the outhouse.  The mamba was known to kill hundreds of people in the Congo every year, but her Uncle Ezra from Rwanda killed the snake with a hoe.   And the eleven year old girl went back to herding goats, collecting firewood, tending the crops, fetching water, going to school and climbing the avocado, orange, and guava trees with her older brother Phocas.   
     Denise faced another encounter later that year with a python twisted around a bamboo trunk, his glittering eyes staring straight into hers.  She dropped her hoe and ran from the field in terror.  The next day she and her Aunt Priscilla prayed that God would spare the family of all snakes – even the sight of them.  God answered and she never saw a snake again.
     These are the first two memories Denise has of experiencing God’s glory but she is sure that she experienced God’s glory since she was a newborn:  her father and mother would gather all the children and sing hymns, pray to God, and hear her father tell them Bible stories.  Her favorite Bible story was that of a young girl named Mary who gave birth to Baby Jesus.   Even as a young girl, even before she could remember, she loved this Child named Jesus.
     At the age of 12, Denise’s best friend Bishoshi died and she experienced heartbreak; but that heartbreak soon turned to comfort when she realized that Bishoshi was in Heaven with Jesus.  Soon that comfort turned to God’s peace that passes all understanding when she accepted Jesus Christ as her Personal Lord and Savior.  Less than a year later, on Christmas Eve, 1977, Denise was baptized during a children’s revival.
     In 1978, Denise attended the eighth grade in a Christian girls boarding school in Lycee Bideka, fifty miles from where she and her family lived in Kalambi.  The trip took her up to three days to take, perhaps even longer during the rainy seasons so for the next six years she did not travel back to see her family as much as she liked.  
     But the six years at the school were nurturing ones for her spiritually, but even then she encountered something that had been going on since 1895:  the hatred between the Hutu and the Tutsi.  There was a group of girls – some Hutus and some Tutsis- who wanted to continue the tradition of hatred between them.  Denise manage to convince some of them to choose peace over hate.
     Denise graduated in 1983 as an elementary school teacher and moved with her family to Bwegera in the Congo where her father opened a small medical clinic.    

     In 1984 she met a Tutsi ten years her senior named Charles, who held a high-ranking position as a geologist for the Cimerwa Cement Processing Company in Rwanda.  Charles was a lapsed Catholic who had lost faith in God due to he and his family being persecuted by the Hutus.  The two fell in love and married on December 26, 1987. 
     As a new wife, Denise prayed that her husband would find God and yearn to pray and attend church regularly; she also prayed to have a baby.  Their first of three sons Charles-Vital was born on August 2, 1989. 
In May of 1990 God finally said yes to Denise’s prayer that her husband find God –which he did while on a business trip to Bujumbura where he dropped in to see Denise’s brother Phocas.  Phocas went to church that Sunday but Charles waited outside and overheard the sermon.

When he had heard the preacher’s words, “The blood of Jesus has power to was the dirt from our lives,” Charles told me, all his past sins had appeared before him.  Admitting he had been baptized before our wedding primarily for my sake, he now sincerely dedicated his life to Christ.  “Denise, I will pray with you from now own,” he said.  “Jesus says he gives living water.  With you, I will keep going to Him for that water, so I’m not pulled back into my old ways.”
Page 38

     Even though their spiritual life was at peace with Christ their life in Rwanda would soon turn to violence, fear, and persecution when, in October of 1990, her husband was taken away, their home confiscated and possessions looted by the Hutus, who then interrogated her for hours. She lost her husband, her job, her home, her possessions, her friends, and her community- and all because she was a Tutsi.  Even despite this and even despite her despair she never lost her faith in Christ and always felt His presence.

Looking upward, I silently cried out, reminding Jesus how He had fled Bethlehem with His parents, though neither He nor they had done any wrong – this is how it felt being Tutsi in Rwanda.
Page 43

     God gave her comfort through the Bible and a journal that she would write entries to God and it was through this written form of prayer that sustained her in those days and the many years to come.   He also gave her small reunions with her beloved husband Charles. (Above Left)
     Even still, like King David, Denise witnessed many things and experienced every kind of emotion that King David experiences in the Book of Psalms.  

          She experienced that cold chilling fear when the Hutu terrorists were coming after her after they slaughtered her relatives.  Hiding from the Hutus militants, she crawled under the bed, the floor soaked with the blood of her slaughtered family.   
     She experienced terror when her dear friend Epa was beheaded right before her eyes and when her friend Simpunga was tortured and murdered, both in April of 1994.  But she also experienced God’s protection when Hutu fighter came with the intention to kill her newborn son Petit. 

“Ah!” breathed the killer, stepping closer, raising his bloodstained blade.  “You know what we did three days ago in Mukoma?  Killed every last baby boy! Made the mother’s watch!”
I gasped, and he swung.  But –as if a stronger hand had grabbed his wrist – his stroke caught in midair.  The man took a step back.
His eyes shifted to Charles –Vital.
“He’s a boy!” He exclaimed.  “I’ll end him with one blow!”
Again he raised his arm and swung.  Again his stroke broke mid-swing . . . Advancing on Christian, he did the same with the same result. 
       . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Page 80

Finally, I could settle my children for the night and try to get some rest myself. 

. . . . . . .

I closed my eyes, bone-weary and soul-shaken- yet awed by God’s protection.  What had arrested the Killer’s hand?  Across my mind flashed a childhood memory: an angel’s flaming sword barring evil from our door, an invisible ring of fire keeping harm away.
Pages 81

     Denise and her three sons are able to return back to her home only to find everything looted, destroyed, or missing, including documents and photographs.    She is overcome with despair and goes through the rubbish to clean up the mess when she discovers something that gives her hope.

I felt something my fingers recognized immediately:  my precious journal.  Finding it seemed a glimmer of God’s love, a sign that He still cared.  Carefully, I pulled this treasure from the trash.
Torn and dirty, the small book was open; stamped across its spread was the messy print of a shoe – a footprint in dried blood.  Overcome, I closed the journal and hugged it to my chest. 
Page 96

     God rescues Denise from an attempted rape by a Hutu militant; God rescues newborn son Petit, once again, from the murderous hands of a Hutu militant.    But even still she has an empty space not knowing if her husband is even alive or dead; and she is experiencing survivor’s guilt – why was she spared and not her loved ones?  She also grieves that her children had to witness all of this violence and loss.  Her own three sons had witnessed violent murders and as a result she felt her children and their next generation (if they even lived that long) were forever damaged.   She has reached her breaking point and is full of anger that she cries out to God.

Although I believed in God, I had only accusing questions to bring before him.  “You could have prevented all this!”  I cried, again and again.  “Why didn’t you?”
Page 113
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Often, all I could do was pray to Jesus, hoping He would understand since He, too, had been hated, betrayed, and humiliated.  Clinging to His cross was like clinging to the trunk of a palm through a hurricane.  I might be battered by lashing wind, but surely the tree’s roots would hold.
       Pages 114.

     By clinging to Jesus Christ and His Cross, Denise experiences even more sorrow but only for a short season; because she soon experiences recovery; renewal, forgiveness, reconciliation, new career calling by God Himself; new love; and a new country to call home.


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