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As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda Paperback – February 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Rwanda—bloodied, scarred and nearly destroyed by the 1994 brutality of the Hutu genocide of Tutsis—is now called an uncharted case study in forgiveness by author Larson, who was inspired by the award-winning film As We Forgive. Individual stories form prototypes: there is Rosaria, left for dead in a pile of bodies, who forgives her sisters killer. And Chantal, whose family is brutally murdered yet who forgives her neighbor for the crimes. Devota, mutilated and left for dead, survives, forgives and eventually adopts several orphans. Each story is horrible and deeply personal as Larson mines the truths of forgiveness deep in each ones tale. Helpful interludes offer readers hands-on ways to facilitate forgiveness and take the next step to reconciliation in their own lives. This isnt an easy book to read or digest, yet its message is mandatory: Forgiveness can push out the borders of what we believe is possible. Reconciliation can offer us a glimpse of the transfigured world to come. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Rwanda---bloodied, scarred and nearly destroyed by the 1994 brutality of the Hutu genocide of Tutsis---is now called “an uncharted case study in forgiveness” by author Larson, who was inspired by the award-winning film As We Forgive. Individual stories form prototypes: there is Rosaria, left for dead in a pile of bodies, who forgives her sister’s killer. And Chantal, whose family is brutally murdered yet who forgives her neighbor for the crimes. Devota, mutilated and left for dead, survives, forgives and eventually adopts several orphans. Each story is horrible and deeply personal as Larson mines the truths of forgiveness deep in each one’s tale. Helpful “interludes” offer readers hands-on ways to facilitate forgiveness and take the next step to reconciliation in their own lives. This isn’t an easy book to read or digest, yet its message is mandatory: “Forgiveness can push out the borders of what we believe is possible. Reconciliation can offer us a glimpse of the transfigured world to come.” (Feb.) -- Publisher’s Weekly
Those who fear the breadth of America's left-right gap should see how radical forgiveness is healing Rwanda's far, far greater divide. Catherine Claire Larson realistically reports both scars and grace. -- Dr. Marvin Olasky
Ignore the doubters, skeptics, and experts about Rwanda and reconciliation after the 1994 genocide. Catherine Claire Larson has witnessed the same thing that I and a handful of other Westerners have, which is that everyday Rwandans who take the risk of biblical forgiveness soon experience new joy beyond human understanding. This book chronicles the miracle of forgiveness in a distinctive, evocative, and potent way. -- Tim Morgan
I had trouble reading Catherine Claire Larson’s book---As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda, because of the lump in my throat and the flood of tears that made it difficult to focus. These stories of forgiveness in the wake of the Rwandan genocide are miracles of the highest order. Catherine does not just tell the story but she does so with a deft literary touch that actually does justice to the extraordinary stories. Like me, the reader may find their vision blurred from tears, but please persevere and discover what true forgiveness really looks like. -- Frank A. James III, President
In compelling stories and thoughtful reflections, Catherine Claire Larson gives us glimpses of the powerful transformation taking place in Rwanda today. Reconciliation can indeed follow unspeakable evil; forgiveness is the key. -- Daniel W. Van Ness, Executive Director
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This is not a rose colored book, however. Forgiveness's painful elements and continuing problems are dealt with frankly in this book and not ignored. Nor is forgiveness forced on anyone. This is a decidedly Christian book, and while forgiveness is universal, some of the advice and stories might not resonate as well with non-Christians.
Finally, do not be concerned that this is a book on genocide. The accounts of the atrocities, while honest and horrifying, are not glorified or dwelt on. They are told so that we can empathize with the people involved and better understand what it took for them to forgive. An amazing book and well worth a read.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide, where Hutu attacked and murdered over 800,000 Tutsi's is hard to fathom in its brutality and suddenness. Larson, on staff with Prison Fellowship Ministries, writes of a defined process that leads to genocide and in reverse, of a process that leads forgiveness.
She has focused on seven specific individuals, in three chapter segments, to tell an arc of a story from before, during, and after the genocide. The three chapter segments are broken up by seven interlude chapters that reflect on what the real applications of forgiveness, comfort, and what repairing broken relationships looks like.
By telling personal stories in an engaging writing style, Larson does a fine job of taking the reader from the abstract to the very real and personal. She only introduces the political issues that motivated the genocide, and steps out of the way to tell of very human stories of brutality and in return peace and reconciliation.
The writing is never explicit when stories of the genocidal acts are told, but they are hard to read, especially when old neighbors and friends turn on each other. There are times after reading an especially difficult passage, I had to put aside the book for a day or so, because of the sheer horror involved. At the same time, reading of murderers reaching out to assist in rebuilding their victims lives, local justice that seeks to restore and not retribution, and victims seeking to point those that did so much evil to Christ is earth shaking in its own right.
Larson identifies eight steps that genocidal groups take to strip their victims of their humanity. By telling seven stories of reconciliation, forgiveness, she contrasts man's kingdom versus God's. The final step of genocide is denial. With powerful stories of reconciliation, she tells stories of truth that re-humanize victim and perpetrator alike.
As We Forgive needs to read as a testament to a group of people who are changed by otherworldly power, in the hope that the same power that saved them from an ongoing spiral of evil will do wonders around the world.
Though it may be incomplete and imperfect, the lesson remains powerful. This is a case study the world cannot afford to miss. If we do, it will be to our own peril.
This books profundity is so deep, that it has the power to transform all human interaction and relationships.
Prior to reading this book, I had only an impersonal and fact based understanding of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. This book allowed me to step into the lives of a few of the survivors and to hear their stories. The author gives such a vivid portrayal of her meetings with the survivors that I felt like I was sitting in on the interview, hearing and seeing everything that she was observing. These stories are amazing, not only of what these survivors endured and lived to tell about, but how they eventually came around to healing their emotional wounds through forgiveness. This level of forgiveness is something I would never be able to fathom when imagining myself in these survivors' shoes.
This book is a must read. It is a book that can't help but change your outlook on many emotions and circumstances in life in a positive way.