They Killed My Children! – Rose’s Story
Aug 17, 2014 1961
This is Rose’s story in her own words. It was recorded and translated by Pr David Kayumba. Edited by Eliezer Gonzalez, who also added some editorial remarks in brackets for clarity.
A happy Christian family
I grew up in a big Christian family; to be sure we were staunch Catholics. My parents were religious people and they taught us the Christian love, and so we grew up in a loving family. I had five sisters with whom we shared everything.
Gasping for breath and almost fainting
The 1994 Rwandan Genocide robbed me of my loving people; all of them: two children in Rwanda, my first-born son and my daughter, my husband, mother, father, and my five sisters. her daughter.
This Genocide started when I had gone to Belgium for one week. I heard about the Genocide and I prayed to God fervently from Belgium. I promised God that I would never turn my back on him if he would only protect my children. I hoped that he would honor my prayers. Every day, as news began trickling in about the progress of the Genocide, I made more and more vows and promises to God if he would only spare my family.
I got more confused and desperate and at this point I could not pray for every one but my children! I came to the point in my life that I had never imagined, literally gasping for breath, almost fainting at the thought of losing my children. Eventually I prayed only that God would spare my youngest son.
Gruesomely hacked to death
Soon I ran out of words and the only word I would repeat often was, “God! GOD!” But the news I was getting was that every member of my family had been gruesomely hacked to death! God seemed to be as helpless as I was, and as everyone around me. Who do you turn to in such a situation?
Those few friends who could relay information from Rwanda urged me to accept the reality of the loss of all my people. I remained in a state of denial until after some weeks into the Genocide, and then I accepted the reality of it all.
My youngest son miraculously survived
However, I still believed that I had one member of my family left – my youngest son whom I had left with my mother. I had lost hope of seeing anyone alive, but somehow I held on to my little baby, hoping against hope that I might seem him again.
I got the news that my mother had not escaped; that she had been killed like the others. How crazy was I to even still think that my baby could survive! Like any other parent, my heart remained now focused on my youngest – all that I had left.
Three months later I got a phone call informing me that my baby had survived. What exciting news! I thought I was merely daydreaming. At that time you do not know what to do; it is an exciting joy mixed with the heartbreaking sorrow of what you have lost. And yet my living baby gave me reason to live another day.
At this time I said to my self, “Why did I pray to God to at least spare my youngest? Maybe God could have preserved my other children had I not said those words! We need to be careful with the words we utter.
Anyway, when I found out that youngest son was still alive, I moved quickly to bring my son to Belgium. Soon after this great reunion with my beloved son, the reality of the loss of other children set in and I was plunged in deep pain of grieving.
They killed my children!
This was the period in which I revisited my relationship with God and I saw no reason to keep God in my life, and so I gave up on him. I had trusted him and entrusted every member of my family into his hands and all had perished. Why should I go on worshiping a weak God who is indifferent to our human problems! I stopped going to church. I was so ungrateful and forgetful, that even though God had preserved my son, I lived as though God never existed. This grieving mixed with anger went on every day for many years until my son grew up and needed to know what I was going through.
It is so difficult to live on. I cried, and I cried loudly, and my son would ask why are you crying? I would say to him, “They killed my children!” He would ask me, “What about me?” I would then lie to him that I had taken him in my arms and fled.
Confronting the killer
In 2010, I went with my son to Rwanda and we were shown the person who killed my family. He confessed his crime and took us to the mass grave where we saw my two sisters. My son could now see why I was always crying. This experience took me back and since then I have been seeing psychologists. But looking back – and I can say this now –in many ways, God intervened in my life and that is how I managed to survive.
Tragedy strikes again
Just recently, as if it was to confirm my conclusion about God, another heartbreaking tragedy hit me again, and this time I wanted to end my life. My son, my only son who had survived the genocide while he was only a little boy, he was stabbed to death at 19 years old in Belgium – a country where there is security and peace!
This was not an experience I could take in, Although by now I also had a daughter, Nelly, who had been born in Belgium [Rose had remarried to a Belgian man], I even forgot about her! Friends tried so hard to remind me that I still had Nelly, that I would get grandchildren from her, but I could not hear anything they said to me. My loss was so overwhelming that I had to depend on drugs daily.
Mama, you have me!
And then came the time when I would sit down and tell my daughter about my sorrow and then she would reply to me, “Mama, I can see you cry every day. Have you forgotten that you have another child; you have me”. She told me this more than twice, and in a way, this woke me up.
My daughter Nelly told me that I should pray to God, and that maybe this would help me. This was the last thing I wanted to hear. In fact I told her that those who spend time praying, had lost their minds.
Sammy and his friends [from The Great Invitation Gospel Fellowship in Brussels] visited me and prayed for me but my anger still burned within me.
What made it even worse is that the parents of the [alleged] murderer of my son, and the [alleged] killer himself, live close by, and I see them from time to time. Imagine how terrible that is. The family is not remorseful of what was [alleged to have been] done by their son to her family. [Note from Eliezer – The case is still before the courts, and therefore for legal reasons I have inserted “alleged” into the story above.]
A great invitation
Then recently, Sammy gave me an invitation to come to the Gospel meetings in Brussels where Pr Eliezer was preaching. God had never given up on me! He was always looking out for me!
I came to these meetings every day, and Pr Eliezer taught us every day. The things he taught us took me back in time to remember the things my parents had taught us: faith, forgiveness and love. Oh, for me it was a new experience in my life!
Every evening when I went back home, I sat down and reflected on those messages. I realized that I needed to turn to God, I had turned my back on Him who loves us all so much.
Surely I had suffered much and yet there many others who have suffered and who still suffer like myself. I used to see myself as the greatest sufferer, but I now know that there are others who have suffered more. There are those who are so poor that cannot afford even basic health care, and there other those who do not even have one child, and yet I still have Nelly.
The messages I heard in these meetings led me to see that I had much to thank God for. I remembered the story of Job. Then I reflected on what Jesus has done for us and how he keeps searching for us when we do not even care about him.
It was as if I had been blind to the provision had prepared for me in Nelly. I have reasons to be grateful to God. I pray that God will continue sustaining me and enable me to raise up my daughter in the right way.
God is not tired of our tears
I now realize God has been on my side in my bad times and in my good times. He is always above every thing else, he is patient with us, he is not turned off by our failures and doubts, and even when we turn our back on Him, he persists with us. He is not tired of our tears; people tire of us but He does not. And when people are ashamed of us, God is not ashamed of us. All these things I have experienced and learnt.
I used to insult God, and yet when I move about I would find other people praising Him! Then I would stop a while and say some praise though in anger. I used to despise the thought of praying to God after losing my son. I could tell those advised me to turn to God, “Will he bring back my son?” But now I know Jesus is the resurrection and the life. One day he will bring back my son. Who is like God?
I am so blessed! Imagine… I have a child – Nelly – to talk to; a child who writes me love notes. Where can any troubled souls go to, but to Him alone. God gave me this daughter, He cares for us. No matter what we go through, God is still our loving creator.
David Kayumba’s Note
I confess it is not an easy task listening to the story of Rose. Both the Genocide and the murder of her son by someone who lives not far from her home are shocking. We live in a difficult world and so we are getting used to bad news. What comforts us is that we speak of Jesus: the man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. Rose can identify herself with Jesus and so she is full of joy because of this Man.
Rose is aware of many troubled people who have gone through experiences such as hers and who need to be helped to find courage to live positively and to discover reasons to thank God and to turn to Him. Rose realized from the messages preached by Dr Eliezer, that forgiveness is costly and that the Son of God paid a great price for the ungrateful sons and daughters of Adam. She also realizes that all the years she grappled with her hate-love relationship with God.
God never ceased loving and caring for her and in his providential care she was led to the meetings where she was blessed to hear messages that she had never heard before. She is not alone in having experienced this new thing. There are people who came to these meetings because of her invitation and many have confessed to her, that if that man (Eliezer) was to be teaching in a church here, they would come back to the church.
In our Brussels meetings with Eliezer, there were some new faces I had not seen before and these faces included sister Priscilla who was baptized. Many of these new people were invited by Sister Rose. And because her extreme experiences had made her very well known, many were excited to come to the meetings because of her invitation. In fact we discovered that if our meetings had gone on for two extra days the hall would have been full because of Rose.
The Jesus Rose has found has motivated her to reach out to others and by sharing her story and her experience with Jesus she wants to appeal to many to find Jesus only, the hope of the hopeless and the rest for the restless. Rose is now sharing the book Jesus Only by Dr Desmond Ford.
When I went to record this story from her home, her friend who was supposed to go with her to a sporting activity was surprised to hear that Rose was not going to the gym. She asked why, and Rose explained to her that some friends who had been sharing with me the Gospel of Jesus were coming to listen to her story. Her friend said to her, “How could you not have invited me as well?” So Rose invited her and so we got an opportunity to share with her and after sharing, Sister Rose handed her the book Jesus Only in the Kinyarwanda language. Rose explained to her the importance of that book. Rose is committed to reminding her friends and those hurting and those angry at God, that there is a loving God who suffers greatly when we suffer, and who and suffered greatly for humanity. Rose was very well-known in the Rwandan community in Brussels as the woman who was angry at God, but now not any more. Now she is know for her dramatic journey into joy. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is making the difference.
Rose has cried many tears. God will wipe them all away. She is courageous and I admire her strong character and I have no doubt God has been very active in her life. I probably would have died already if these terrible things had happened to me. I can see that God will work with Rose to help many people here who have been hurt greatly. We are encouraging her and we shall support her to let God turn her into a minister to minister to others and by doing that she will be healing as well.