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As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda [Paperback]

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Item description for As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda by Catherine Claire Larson...

Inspired by the award-winning film of the same name, this book explores the pain, the mystery, and the hope through seven compelling stories from Rwanda as victims, orphans, widows, and perpetrators journey toward reconciliation.

Publishers Description
Inspired by the award-winning film of the same name. If you were told that a murderer was to be released into your neighborhood, how would you feel? But what if it weren t only one, but thousands? Could there be a common roadmap to reconciliation? Could there be a shared future after unthinkable evil? If forgiveness is possible after the slaughter of nearly a million in a hundred days in Rwanda, then today, more than ever, we owe it to humanity to explore how one country is addressing perceptual, social-psychological, and spiritual dimensions to achieve a more lasting peace. If forgiveness is possible after genocide, then perhaps there is hope for the comparably smaller rifts that plague our relationships, our communities, and our nation. Based on personal interviews and thorough research, As We Forgive returns to the boundary lines of genocide s wounds and traces the route of reconciliation in the lives of Rwandans---victims, widows, orphans, and perpetrators---whose past and future intersect. We find in these stories how suffering, memory, and identity set up roadblocks to forgiveness, while mediation, truth-telling, restitution, and interdependence create bridges to healing. As We Forgive explores the pain, the mystery, and the hope through seven compelling stories of those who have made this journey toward reconciliation. The result is a narrative that breathes with humanity and is as haunting as it is hopeful."

From Publishers Weekly
Rwandabloodied, scarred and nearly destroyed by the 1994 brutality of the Hutu genocide of Tutsisis 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 2008 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda by Catherine Claire Larson has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 12/15/2008 page 50

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Zondervan
Pages   284
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.06" Width: 6.35" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2013
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
ISBN  0310287308  
ISBN13  9780310287308  
UPC  025986287306  

Availability  98 units.
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More About Catherine Claire Larson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Catherine Claire Larson is a senior writer and editor of Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint. With a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in theological studies, Larson hopes to give voice to Rwandans who are involved in one of the most closely watched experiments in forgiveness in our world today.

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Reviews - What do customers think about As We Forgive?

As We Forgive  Jan 31, 2010
Words cannot express the sadness I felt for these dear people from Rwanda and the horrific treatment they received from their own people. Only the grace of God could provide the forgiveness to the offender and the offended. The author wrote a very sensitive story in a most personable way. It was hard to put the book down!
as we forgive  Jan 17, 2010
this is an amazing tells you some real life stories of people who experienced the genocide.but it does not leave you in despair,because it tells a story of reconciliation between victims and perpetrators. it leaves you with hope.
in fact it serves as a model for many places in the world were such horrific crimes were goes into our four walls and reveals the truth about unforgiveness and jealousy,it kills.
every normal citizen of this world can learn and benefit from this book. many of us need to learn how to overcome unforgivable acts committed against children received it as a christmas present.thank you catherine larson
The Miracle of Forgiveness  Jun 11, 2009
In As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda (Zondervan, 2009), Catherine Claire Larson tells two sides to the story of the 1990's Rwandan genocide. On the one hand, she documents the horrific scenes of mass murder. On the other hand, she describes the moving accounts of forgiveness that have taken place between victims and their abusers.

Larson begins her book by laying out a chronology of events. Readers who are unfamiliar with the history of the genocide in Rwanda will find the historical context helpful for understanding the individual stories that follow.

In short, the seeds of the genocide were planted in the bitterness between the Hutu and the Tutsi regimes. In the mid-1990's, Hutus began a systematic slaughter of Tutsis. Over 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days. The most chilling fact about this genocide is that, in most cases, neighbors were killing neighbors. The Hutus were not roaming the countryside killing strangers with machetes. These were people slaughtering people they knew.

But As We Forgive does not concentrate primarily upon the atrocities that took place during the genocide. Instead, Larson focuses upon the incredible acts of forgiveness that have since followed.

Within the past several years, more than 100,000 of the killers have been released back into society. One may wonder: How have the victims coped with these new societal developments? These are people who lost parents and siblings and children. They are people who even today bear the physical scars of violence or the emotional scars of rape. How have the Rwandans been able to co-exist with the very people who caused them such pain?

Christianity provides the answer. Larson tells the stories of several victims and perpetrators, and offers a few additional insights into the nature of Christian forgiveness.

As you read these powerful stories, you quickly come to realize that forgiveness does not come easy. The Rwandan victims do not minimize the sin by ignoring it or sweeping its consequences under the rug.

Larson is unflinching in her portrayal of evil. The line of evil runs through both victim and killer. It is not as simple as "bad" versus "good." One woman recounts how she was rescued by a man who kept her safe from the threat of death for a period of time, even as he occasionally raped her.

Larson believes that when we look at a murderer, we look at ourselves. The victims need to offer forgiveness, but even they need forgiveness from God.

The struggle to forgive is palpable at times. One woman cries out to God to forgive her for failing to forgive:

"Oh, God, forgive me for dwelling so much on the past, for pushing others away and feeling lonely, when I didn't have to feel that way. And most of all forgive me for not thinking of you, or what you have given me today. Help me, God; to start living and to start being truly thankful for the ways you are working in my life." (84)

Moments later, Larson provides the key to the entire book:

The more she had come to understand the significance of the Bible's teachings on Jesus Christ's death, the more forgiveness seemed possible. She learned how Christ had been executed in a horrible manner, more horrible than some of the things she had seen in the war. And she learned how he willingly died to pay the penalty for her wrongdoing and for anyone else who would give up their bad ways and look to him. If Christ could forgive her, if he could forgive the people who tortured him, then Joy knew she could forgive too. (86)

One might think As We Forgive would be a depressing book. It is not. It is deeply inspiring. The accounts of forgiveness help us move past the petty grievances we hold towards others.

There is also an inspiring account of a group of students who refused to divide into Hutus and Tutsis. "All of us are Rwandans here," they declared, and paid for their boldness with their lives.

My only quibble with this book is its quick dismissal of the idea of retributive justice in favor of a type of restorative justice. I am not sure that these two types of justice are incompatible. Of course, there is not enough room in this kind of book to develop some of these concepts, which makes me wonder why they were alluded to in the first place.

As We Forgive succeeds in telling a powerful story. We read of pastors and church leaders returning to Rwanda to encourage forgiveness, even as they suffer great personal cost for their decisions. We read of people sacrificing their own desires for the good of others. We read of people so engulfed in their own guilt and despair for the past sins that the offer of forgiveness becomes a liberating act of sheer grace.

These stories are Christianity-in-action. Highly recommended.
A Beautifully Written, Deeply Touching, Powerfully Moving Chronicle  Jun 10, 2009
Few stories of cultural transformation are as compelling as the story of Rwanda's ongoing recovery from the unthinkable brutality the country suffered in the spring of 1994. As the 15th anniversary of the horrific genocide approaches in April 2009, a number of books, films and documentaries are being released not only to remind people of the horror but also to show them the remarkable progress toward reconciliation and healing that the country is experiencing today.

That progress is nothing short of a miracle --- not by the trite use of the word "miracle" that has been cheapened by overuse and misapplication, but miracle in the purest sense: a change brought about by divine intervention in human affairs.

The reasons for the Rwandan genocide are complex and tangled up in a web of international interference in the country's government, but the result of the massive killings is clear: hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi tribe were slaughtered, raped, dismembered and tortured in other ways by Hutu tribe members who had once been their friends and neighbors.

No family was unaffected. What the survivors experienced and witnessed left unimaginable scars. And then, in a desperate attempt to ensure the survival of the nation and its people 10 years later, the post-conflict Rwandan government asked the seemingly impossible of the surviving Tutsi refugees who had returned to their homeland: allow some 50,000 Hutu war criminals to return to society and live among them.

This is the story Larson tells so compellingly in AS WE FORGIVE, the story of radical forgiveness sought by the perpetrators and extended by the victims. What sets Larson's book apart from others commemorating the anniversary is the personal faces of forgiveness that she portrays. Larson tells the stories of more than a dozen Rwandans, some killers, some survivors, who are all struggling to move forward even as they are unable to erase the memory of the past.

The stories are difficult to read --- the account of a four-year-old huddled in the brush, hiding with her mother and baby sister as their home is torched and her father is butchered by a machete-wielding neighbor; a young teenage boy's memory of the night his sleep was shattered by a grenade that left his mother bloodied and mangled and by the sound of soldiers brutally raping his older sister; and so many more. But in reading them, readers see the miracle, the hand of God in the lives of those Rwandans who chose forgiveness over revenge and so many other possibilities.

Larson wisely intersperses these stories with reflections on various aspects of forgiveness, providing a much-needed break from both the profound sadness and incomprehensible hope the stories convey. Larson's is no academic, historical account; it's a beautifully written, deeply touching, powerfully moving chronicle of lives once torn apart that are now on the path to restoration.

AS WE FORGIVE is among the best of the many books on Rwanda. Highly recommended.

--- Reviewed by Marcia Ford
a powerful story of good overcoming evil  Jun 9, 2009
What does forgiveness really look like? How can you forgive someone who seemingly took everything away that made life worth living: family, homes, and trust? What kind of power is it that can look someone who has hurt you in the deepest way, and forgive them? This is what As We Forgive is about, specifically how do Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide forgive those who broke into their homes, chased them down in the wild and sought to wipe them out.

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.

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