O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

As We Forgive

You may have seen the award-winning documentary “As We Forgive” featured on PBS this month. It’s a heartbreaking but hopeful look at the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide — where a million people were slaughtered in 100 days — especially as experienced by two Rwandan women, Rosaria and Chantale. The film follows these two women as they come face-to-face with the men who destroyed their families with unthinkable violence — and then make the choice to forgive them when the men (and thousands of other perpetrators) are released back into Rwanda.


From the film: “If they tell you that a murderer has been released into the neighborhood, how would you feel? And this time we weren’t releasing one. We were releasing forty thousand.”

My fellow freelance writer Catherine Clair Larson has written As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda, a book inspired by this film, and it explores the same stories from the film in greater depth. It provides not just a deeper understanding of the genocide, but an examination of the power of forgiveness in other situations, simply by observing how genocide victims have somehow found the strength to forgive. It’s such a compelling and necessary read. Difficult subject matter, yes, but incredibly thought-provoking.


I’ve written on forgiveness before for a magazine assignment. I interviewed a Mennonite mother whose child was abducted and killed. I interviewed a pastor’s kid whose family was totally hung out to dry by a church congregation (destroying the family in the process). Different situations, of course, but linked together by their common belief among the victims that the best way to deal with heartache and tragedy was to let it go. To offer forgiveness. To reconcile.


I can’t say I fully understand that kind of extreme forgiveness or even want to understand it, but I’m pretty sure I agree. Faced with tragedy or heartache, you can choose to carry the burden of anger around with you forever. Or you can forgive. It doesn’t take away the pain or grief. But it does help you excape the corrosive burden of anger, bitterness, and revenge. Grief can be turned into strength, but bitterness is almost always detrimental.

Anyway, that’s your helpful thought of the day. I can’t recommend Larson’s book enough. In fact, I have an extra copy of it (I’m keeping one for myself) and will give this copy away. To become eligible for it, simply leave a comment on this post. At 9 am central time tomorrow, I’ll choose at random from all the commenters. The winner gets a free copy.


Read more about Catherine Claire Larson.
Learn more about As We Forgive.
Listen to Catherine being interviewed on Steve Brown’s radio show.

Comments read comments(9)
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posted June 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Sign me up. Great post!I watched HOTEL RWANDA with tears thinking, how did we let this happen?! I would love to read this side of the story.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I heard a piece on NPR a couple months ago that talked with victims and perpetrators. It was a compelling listen.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 1:23 pm

"Forgiveness is not human, it is divine." An amazing clip. It made me cry. I hope to watch the entire documentary…if my heart can bear it.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Sign me up!Steve Brown has a great interview with Ms. Larson here –

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posted June 3, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I spent 6 weeks in Rwanda last summer on a missions trip, and the level of forgiveness I found there absolutely astounded me. As someone who has struggled my entire life to forgive those who have hurt me, it was absolutely revolutionary for me to talk to these people who had lost so much more than I ever could and yet could still forgive those who had torn their lives to pieces. I have never witnessed such inspiring faith. Rwanda and its people have changed my life forever.

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posted June 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Wow, Jason that was a great post. and it does speak volumes of each of us, when we think of forgiveness and our inability to forgive others, at times, for even the littlest offense against us. Truly amazing!

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posted June 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Jason,I believe that forgiveness comes in many ways. What I think most do not understand is that we can truly forgive someone, learn from it and move on. In addition; I believe that due to the circumstances, we can still choose to stay clear of the individual who perpetrated us, but it doesn't mean we are hateful or any other word others choose to say about you, it just means that we have a choice to stear clear of a learned situation. True forgiveness can take place without a reconsilitation!The Lord works in each of us differently! We handle forgiveness and life in general the way we feel the Lord leading us; whether it is a RWANDA situatioan or the vinom that spews from the mouth of others. With that said, I agree with Bethany! The hearts of those in RWANDA seem to be much softer, even after dealing with the horrible life situations there. The documentary was heart wrenching; yet eduational!

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posted June 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm

two random quotes on forgiveness:"People who do not forgive remain in the power of whoever injured them""unforgiveness is the poison you drink trying to kill someone else"sounds nice, until you actually have to try and forgive someone who hurt you deeply. now, please-please-please pick me at random!

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Stephanie K.

posted June 3, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Wow. So many powerful snippets of truth in there. It is amazing to me how God works forgiveness into our relationship with him and our relationships with others to make us appreciate what he did for us at the cross.

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