“They forgave me and they took me out of prison and they pardoned me.”
A man guilty of participating in genocide has been saved by Grace.
Now his transformed life is bringing thousands to Christ!
Here is his story:
Due to the fallen nature of mankind, when cultures collide, war often takes place.
This is what happened in the early 1990s as the country of Rwanda experienced the worst period of hate and slaughter in its history.
After years of civil war, an unsteady peace treaty, and the assassination of the nation’s president, the Hutu power movement decided to round up as many of the opposing Tutsi party as possible and murder them.
This resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi peoples and reignited the civil war that had been quelled the previous year.
The Rwandan Patriotic Front, supported by the Tutsi peoples, eventually won the war, put an end to the genocide, and have been in power of the Rwandan government ever since.
During the genocide of the Tutsi peoples, most Hutu were convinced to go against their Tutsi neighbors through false propaganda.
There were many who participated in the genocide by leading the Tutsi to “safe” places, promising safety when they were actually being led to slaughter.
One of these men who led his neighbors to death was Callixte Karemangingo.
With his heart turned to evil by the lies of a hateful government, Callixte led neighbors and others, some who he had even considered friends, to their deaths.
Callixte was eventually put into prison for his crimes in 1995 after the new government had taken power.
But during his years in prison, his life was transformed.
He found a relationship with someone he never saw coming: Jesus Christ.
He started listening to preachers and reading his Bible. He came to know Jesus and knew that he needed to repent of his sins. “That is when I started repenting of my sins, each and every sin. I mainly focused on the sin of participating in genocide.”
“I was thinking about the Rwandans who were blamed for their tribe when they were not the ones guilty themselves. When I would think about it, I would just bust out and start crying.”
“[I repented] on Feb. 8, 2000. That is when I had my revelation,” Callixte told reporters. “I had a voice telling me that the air is going to blow but the one who has repented of his sins from the bottom of his heart, that air will do nothing to him.”
We know from the book of Revelation that God’s wrath will come to those who have not repented and chosen Jesus Christ as Lord. Callixte realized this in his own revelation and decided to spread the word through the use of music.
“Many people came to know Christ and confess their sins. I was preaching on two things: the Gacaca government directive and the word of God.”
“People became more and more interested with a musical instrument and even more people get saved.”
Even while he was still in prison, Callixte wrote and played music for other prisoners. “Those songs actually touched people’s lives, mostly the prisoners, and they started to change their ways.”
The government even moved him to other places to play his music for others. He also started preaching to the other prisoners!
Callixte said he ended up leading at least 8,600 prisoners to repentance. Many of those prisoners accepted Jesus Christ and turned to follow Him.
“I became a teacher of the community court within the prison. I could teach them about living with others,” he explained. “I could always emphasize on the fact that God told me whoever asks for forgiveness, he would be forgiven.”
And forgiveness was definitely something that was needed in the country of Rwanda.
There were still feelings of animosity, Hutu who were still convinced of their hate toward Tutsi and Tutsi who were angry at the loss of their loved ones and the atrocities that they had suffered.
Callixte calling for prisoners to repent actually helped along the government’s initiative to forgive those who had been a part of the genocide.
The government had set up local courts, called Gacaca courts, where those who had taken part in the death of their neighbors could come to confess their involvement, their sins, and be forgiven.
Callixte would often recite 1 Corinthians 1:1-30 to the prisoners he was teaching.
These verses speak of how we must all act in unity in Christ and that we must worship God alone and not earthly men and that God chooses unlikely and basic people to serve him.
This certainly holds true in Callixte’s case, as many would not have thought that God would choose him to spread His Word in Rwanda.
After being in prison for five long, busy years, Callixte was forgiven and released to go back to his family and his life.
It turned out that while he was in prison, another unlikely thing had happened.
Callixte’s wife had become good friends with her Tutsi neighbor and both had been working together with World Vision to help other Rwandans recover from the evils of war.
It took some time, but eventually, their neighbors (a Tutsi woman and a Hutu man whom Callixte had known for years) forgave him as well and they have all become good friends.
As a result of the reconciliation, two of their children are even planning on marrying each other!
God did a work on Callixte’s heart that is still working. He is still playing music and speaking with others in Jesus’ name.
He and his neighbor, Andrew, travel and spread their story of compassion and forgiveness to others around the country of Rwanda.
“For us, we are very happy with the fact that we both live together well as families and that people have come from far and wide to see us.”
However, their story has traveled all over the world!
Although much has been done to help the survivors of the Rwandan Genocide, there is still more work to do. Many still suffer from the effects of actions that were taken 25 years ago.
If you would like more information or would like to know what you can do to help, visit foundationrwanda.org.
And never forget to pray for those who are afflicted all over the world.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”