What does it take to forgive your parents' killers? Methode was only 6-years-old when the Rwandan genocide occurred during which, both of his parents were murdered.
Looking back, Methode says, “The biggest thing that happened to me, that the government would not have managed to give me, is forgiving the killers. God convinced me that I would not be any different if I revenged. I thank Compassion, because they introduced me to knowing God bit by bit, until I got born again and my family followed on. My project helped me discover my singing and leadership talent. I am learning to accept God’s love for me and in the end, I know He is enough.”
Methode's faith has helped him find peace.
In the early nineties, Methode lived with his parents and five siblings in eastern Rwanda. After his family’s cows were stolen, Methode was sent to live with his aunt as his parents could no longer afford to feed him. But in April 1994, violence erupted and over 100 days, one million people were slaughtered. Methode fled with his aunt to the nearby hills and swamps where they hid. The rest of his family became separated. Methode’s older brother Nelson was captured and killed. His father and sister hid in the local church but the church was bombed, killing his father. His sister suffered a serious head wound but still managed to escape when the attackers came into the building by slipping through their legs. She died a year later from her injuries.
Methode learnt of his mother’s death from another survivor who confirmed she was killed trying to escape with her youngest child. Only two of his sisters, Clementine and Mediatrice, survived.
For two months, Methode and his aunt hid in the swamps with other survivors, constantly moving to avoid detection. “One day, the killers came to the swamp to attack us in big groups, blowing their whistles and singing their songs and carrying their weapons. You could hear people begging for forgiveness, saying, ‘We will give you all that we have.’ The killers responded saying, ‘All that you have is already ours,’ and called them names as they mercilessly killed them,” he says.
“At that point, my aunt ran with me to the river that was in the middle of the swamp, and bade farewell to me, saying, ‘Your father left you with me to take care of and now this is the end of our road.’ She jumped into the river to be drowned, and I followed on as the killers’ drew closer. It was better to be killed by the water than to wait to be butchered.”
“The water rejected us and we could not drown. We held on to floating dead bodies until the killers found us. They thought my aunt was my grandmother, they hit her with a machete on her head and she collapsed. Then they searched the pockets of my shorts to see if ‘my grandmother’ had hidden her money in them. Failing to find money, they threw me to the ground, hit my knee with a club and, just when they were about to finish me off, another killer called out to the rest, blew his whistle hard and shouting that they had found another place to loot. And I was spared.”
By God’s grace, Methode and his aunt were rescued and taken to hospital. Afterwards, Methode tried to join the army but he was told he was too young. “Because of all that happened to me, and all the anger I had, I wanted to become a soldier to seek revenge for my family. I would think about all that happened to my parents, my family and my country, and all I wanted to do was to become a soldier, get a gun and shoot all the people I was told killed my family.”
His aunt was given a house to live in and Methode stayed with her. A year later, his neighbour enrolled him into the local Compassion project where he was sponsored. In the beginning, Methode was quiet at his project and he was behind in his education.
A drawing from one of Methode's counselling books.
The project workers worked diligently with Methode, praying with him and ensuring he received counselling and treatment. He recalls “Through the regular project activities like singing, games, praying together and reading the Bible, I started to realise that I could get peace from God. I started singing in the choir and in my prayers, telling God to take away all that was heavy in my heart. People in my family where surprised by the sudden change in my behaviour.”
In 1999, Methode gave his life to Christ and was baptised. “I started laughing and talking to people more. I got so involved in my church, and my class performance improved to either the first position or second in my class. My sister asked me to teach her how to pray, because she wanted what had happened to me. She and my aunt are now born again,” he says.
Today, Methode is in his third year of university and is the first vice coordinator of the Genocide Survivors’ Student’s Association at a national level. There are still scars that he bears, both physical and mental, but Methode’s past no longer has a bitter hold on him. Thanks to the support of many people including his sponsor and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, Methode is firmly on the road to forgiveness and has a hope and a future shining brightly before him.