For many Americans, the country of Rwanda has become synonymous with the tragedy of genocide. Books and films such as Hotel Rwanda have forever etched into our mind’s eye the way in which brutality is both deep-rooted and terribly immediate. The story of Rwanda, however, should also teach us something else. It should teach us about the deep-rootedness and immediacy of reconciliation and of forgiveness. At least, that is what Joseph Sebarenzi, the author of the 2009 memoir God Sleeps in Rwanda believes. Sebarenzi, a member of the Tutsi minority, lost nearly all his family in the 1994 massacre. When the killing was finally over, he entered the process of healing by becoming a politician, ultimately experiencing a meteoric rise to become the country’s third most powerful leader as the speaker of the Rwandan Parliament. Still, his desire for the country to become a true democracy proved threatening to the political elite and led to his eventual exile. Sunday, June 26, Sebarenzi will read from his memoir, God Sleeps in Rwanda, and will take questions about his experiences and his hopes for Rwanda at 11:15 a.m. at Riverside Baptist Church. May such discussion be one more step in helping us see Rwanda as more than just a killing field. May we come to see in its costly lessons the reconciliation and forgiveness that we ourselves need. For more information, please email

By: Tonetta Landis-Aina

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