Story By Debra Dollar

Gatari Jean Paul

Gatari Jean Paul, a 25 years old year old Rwandese and a survivor of the Rwanda genocide. He was 10 years old by the time this disgrace happened to their country. Still innocent and never knew what being a Hutu or a Tutsi meant except that Hutus were tall and Tutsis had long noses.

The whole genocide started by threats from their neighbors promising to kill them just after the president’s plane crash that was believed to have been a plot against one of the tribes. The whole genocide was and is believed to be a problem with the governance and political setting. Men and women started slaughtering people mercilessly like animals once they came across an individual.

Paul’s family had to run for their safety as their lives were at the edge. Him and the still alive family members seek refuge in houses. While some of them burnt in houses, others were bitten to death, and the pit latrines were the compost areas. Paul’s family house was burnt down and they sought refuge in a neighbor’s house which was also burnt down and on the run, they decided to hide in the bushes where the killers found them but were  rescued by the Rwanda Patriotic Front who gave them a safer refuge

Due to these killings, he felt hatred in his heart for everyone and could not consider anyone a friend. “My father is a survivor but lame and 60 members of my extended family perished in the genocide.” John said.

The whole of his nuclear family members survived but were left with the duty of looking for bodies of their family members. Some were found in pit latrines, others burnt beyond recognition, while others were found with dents lying on the ground.

John Paul hated the Hutus and could not understand why God allowed this to happen to his family and nation. He did not find it in his heart to pray to God who let his family perish. He went to an Adventist School but hated the Church leaders and the Pastors as they also participated in the killings. He was feeling let down and betrayed by his countrymen and did not know which direction life was taking.It was so hard on him that he decided to get involved in the church activities so as to cover up his burning heart and trauma. He had lots of questions in his heart but could not find the answers to them.

In a preaching going on in church, he found a bit of hope in Jesus’ life and all that He had to bare for us. Having heard the story of Jesus from His birth to death, John Paul could possibly relate it to what happened to his family and the country at large. He slowly came to embrace reality that he could not change what had happened and asked God to help him through his situation.

John is currently going through a theological class in Uganda and has come to understand various arts in life like forgiving. John says that everyone that holds hatred in His heart and wishes death for someone else is a killer himself as God encourages us to forgive. He is in his final year of graduation and says that he appreciates life more after setting himself free from grudges and hatred.


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