Rwanda has been dealing with the effects of 1994 genocide perpetrated against Tutsis for 21 years. In the aftermath of the genocide, there were so many orphans and widowed people who had heart wounds and had no possibility to survive since all their possessions were either plundered or destroyed.
ADEPR as a Christian Church is convinced that the Word of God plays a significant role in healing wounds. Experts in mental health have indicated that as time goes by, past experiences have repercussions on human body. Obviously, time failed to completely remove Rwanda’s wounds caused by genocide perpetrated against Tutsis. Hence, ADEPR has resolved to continue intensifying its healing and reconciliation programmes through different activities organized under “Healing and Reconciliation” Service.
Viateur Ruzibiza, the head of Healing and Reconciliation department indicated that what they do is to “build unity in disparitied/differences. This department was officially initiated in October 2010. The inception of this department was triggered by Pentecostal students who were convinced, after praying, that healing and reconciliation message should be conveyed to all Rwandans. After perceiving that this activity needed strengthening, the leaders of ADEPR Church decided to initiate a department which is specifically assigned to monitor healing and reconciliation programme within all local Churches. .
The vision of this programme is to change the mindsets of Christians and the population and remove their wounds caused by past experiences. Ruzibiza said : “ What we wish for is to have Rwandans who are ideologically changed and whose heart wounds have been healed.”
In order to meet this vision, they use three main strategies including trainings based on the Word of God with a view of helping people to overcome diversionist ideology by giving them opportunity to ask question about how they feel. They also offer them opportunity for discussions through which they help each other to overcome the effects of their past experiences.
Besides, they help those who are more affected than others especially genocide survivors who have been scourged by that history so that they can make a move forward in life. In this respect, they provide them with shelter, cows and basic materials which they need.
ADEPR’s participation in genocide remembering activities
In previous years, at the very beginning of genocide remembering, the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda , ADEPR was reluctant to participate in genocide remembering activities due to lower understanding of this programme. As other churches, many Tutsis were killed in some of ADEPR premises. This happened in 6 places : in churches (Maheresho church), schools (Gihundwe, and Sumba secondary schools), etc.
In a bid to bring back dignity for genocide survivors and remember those who were innocently killed in 1994 genocide perpetrated against Tutsis, ADEPR Church has organized remembering activities in areas where these premises located with a view of helping the survivors to regain hope and confidence and remembering Christians and Rwandans in general who were killed within ADEPR’s premises.
This remembering activity has helped members of the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda, ADEPR who have survived the genocide to feel comfortable and confident again within the Church . The outcomes of remembering activities which were organized countrywide have stirred different local churches of ADEPR to start remembering activities. They organize such activities each year. In this respect, Christians and their leaders gather at the church and take time to remember the victims of genocide perpetrated against Tutsis and support genocide survivors.
Genocide remembering activities within ADEPR have enabled Christians who have survived the genocide to regain hope and confidence. This has driven those who had dropped out of school to resume schooling. Others started development activities. Of course, the Church has intervened in these processes. Some of genocide survivors had decided not to return to their native areas ; but thanks to theses remembering activities within the Church, they became bold and went back there.
We can say that ADEPR has played a very significant role in building Rwandan society by actively participating in genocide remembering activities.