He’s experienced more reason to hate and distrust humanity, including his own, than any of us will ever see. He’s Deo Nshimiyimana, a Pastor from Burundi, who’s the face of Forest Hill’s strong emphasis on Central Africa in general and Burundi in particular.
He told of his story, of how his father and his uncles were mercilessly killed, in 1972, by and at the word of an official, Antony, who only lived down the road from Deo’s family.
As he reached adolescence, Deo felt a responsibility to do womething about the injustice his family has suffered, so he decided that when he was able he would have to kill Antony’s two children so that he would be able to feel the pain that Deo’s family felt. Before you waste a lot of time being shocked, remember this was the bloody environment of the first round Hutu vs Tutsi conflict, and that according to Ellul’s observation, violence begets violence.
Deo carried this commitment in his heart for years, and then he came to a time of saying yes to the Lord Jesus’ call to follow Him. In this new relationship he began to hear the Lord telling him to forgive Antony. One of his responses was to make a list of all the things that Antony had taken from him in killing his father and uncles – and then spoke back to God saying, “See for these reason’s he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.” Ouch! Caused some shocked laughter in those gathered to hear him.
However as Deo listened more closely, he heard the Lord saying that he needed to ask Antony’s forgiveness. Now you’re going, “Whyyyy?!” Well he had heard Jesus say that to have planned to sin is the same of having actually carried out that sin, so in effect he had already killed Antony’s two children. So in the end he did go to Antony and ask for his forgiveness for klling his children…to which Antony repsonded, “Are you mad?! My children are alive and well.” But when Deo told his story about the death of his father and uncles and his first response to that, he understood and forgave him – and asked for Deo’s forgiveness for the death of his father and his brothers.
Now Deo has taught chhildren how to deal with the unimaginable trauma of seeing their own parents buthcered before their very eyes…he is now working for a group called “African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries” or A.L.A.R.M. They work in training Pastors, trying to lift the education and health care of the various countries and promoting microfinance projects.
Now is this forgiveness beyond expectations? Is this life that flows from the Cross? Doesn’t put our petty hurts and frustrations in a stunning perspective?!
Stay afloat. Don’t sink in perpetual unforgiveness and bitterness.
The Barefoot Surfer.