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As We Forgive our Enemies

January 30, 2009
By Catherine Larson

Today’s BreakPoint commentary features Bishop John Rucyahana, winner of the 2009 Wilberforce award. It is given each year to a person who makes a difference in the face of formidable societal problems and injustices. I first interviewed Bishop John in 2004. The stories he told were one of my biggest motivations in later returning to write As We Forgive. Rucyahana helped to begin the Umuvumu Tree reconciliation program in Rwanda, featured in this short video and in chapters one to three of my book. He also founded Sonrise School, which is featured in chapters four to six of my book. Prison Fellowship International created this video, and it gives an idea of the radical nature of forgiveness and the very tangible acts of reconciliation that are happening in some parts of Rwanda today.

Bishop John is shown in the very end of this clip. He says, one of my favorite lines, "Forgiveness and repentance and the embrace of reconciliation at the end--it was like a miracle to the world." (Just a note, this video is several years old, so the numbers of those being held in prisons in Rwanda is out of date.)


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One of the thorniest and most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do is to respond to evil with kindness, and to forgive the unforgivable. We love to read stories about people who have responded to hatred with love, but when that very thing is demanded of us personally, our default seems to be anger, angst, depression, righteousness, hatred, etc. Yet study after study shows that one of the keys to longevity and good health is to develop a habit of gratitude and let go of past hurts.

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