During the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga tells the dramatic story of how he survived while losing more than eighty of his family members and 45,000 of his parishioners in the killings. In the aftermath, Fr. Ubald experienced a renewed sense of purpose as a minister of reconciliation and a healing evangelist in his homeland and around the world. In Forgiveness Makes You Free, he offers five spiritual principles that can help those traumatized by the past to experience healing and peace in Christ.
In 1994 the world looked on in disbelief and horror as Rwanda erupted in violent bloodshed. All across the landlocked African country, militant Hutus rose up to exterminate the Tutsi population, including women and young children. One hundred days later, a million bodies littered fields, streets, and even churches. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, a powerful testimony emerges of the power of God to bring peace and reconciliation into hearts full of fear and hate.
In Forgiveness Makes You Free, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga shares his own dramatic story of how he survived the genocide and its traumatic aftermath. He testifies about how God spared his life so that he might help others with deep physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds to experience peace and healing. In retelling the story of how he forgave the man who killed his family and cared for the man’s children while he was in prison, Fr. Ubald demonstrates how showing mercy can facilitate true forgiveness even in the most painful circumstances of our lives.
Throughout the book, Fr. Ubald teaches about five spiritual keys that draw us to Christ, the only source of lasting peace:
- be thankful and have faith
- choose to forgive
- denounce evil
- decide to live for Jesus
- claim the blessing
Each chapter combines Fr. Ubald’s story with reflection questions that guide readers along their own path of healing: from fear to faith, from shame to freedom, from isolation to reconciliation, from resentment to mercy, and from conflict to peace.
The final chapter offers a guided meditation to help those who need to experience the power of God to release those held in bondage by fear and hate and to find the secret of peace. An appendix contains information about “The Mushaka Reconciliation Project,” a catechetical tool that has been used successfully by parishes in Rwanda, and could easily be adapted by parishes in the United States, to mediate reconciliation between individuals and groups who have become estranged by violence, trauma, and ethnic or cultural divisions.
About the author
Fr. Ubald's ministry was focused on healing and evangelization, particularly through the Center for the Secret of Peace, which he founded to help perpetrators and families of victims find healing and reconciliation after the genocide. He traveled the world offering Masses with healing prayers, from which there are many documented cases of physical, spiritual, relational, and emotional healings.
Fr. Ubald died in 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah, from complications of COVID-19.
Heidi Hess Saxton is an award-winning Catholic author and acquisitions editor for Ave Maria Press.
Immaculée Ilibagiza is an international speaker, Rwandan genocide survivor, and author whose memoir Left to Tell, published in 2006, was a New York Times bestseller.