Tag: Forgiveness

Encountering Forgiveness in Uganda

Leaders meeting Uganda 2017 (9)
Offering praise at a leaders’ retreat in Uganda.

This article originally appeared in the August 2017 Renewal Ministries’ newsletter, which you can view here.

By Nancy Greenhaw, Country Coordinator

This trip was very powerful. We facilitated a discipleship school with 145 leaders from most of Uganda. Some of our most interesting conversations occurred during meals, as our Ugandan brothers and sisters shared their experiences. One example is this story from Robert Tumuhimbise, the National Coordinator of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in Uganda. It demonstrates the unique obstacles encountered in Uganda.

Robert’s team was doing a Life in the Spirit (LIS) seminar for young men who had been captured by and then rescued from the Kony Rebels. As they began the talk on God’s love, a young man jumped up and shouted, “SHUT UP!” In the shocked silence that followed, the young man screamed out, “I was taught by my mother to pray, and we daily prayed the rosary. My family and I were captured by the Kony Rebels, and my father, who was injured, couldn’t keep up, so they clubbed him to death. When my mother cried out, they gang raped her, and after all the soldiers had finished, they cut her throat, and she bled to death. Where was your God of love then?”

The young man and two of his friends left, and the team stopped for the day. They invited people to come by their quarters for tea and cookies. They were surprised when the three young men who had stormed out came by just to chat. They actually came back for cookies twice! One team member finally told them that she didn’t understand the ways of God and why He permitted such horrible things, but that the same God had also rescued them, and they shouldn’t forget that. That word was the bridge that helped them begin to dialogue. They eventually went through the LIS, forgave, and asked God into their hearts to heal the hurt and give them a new life. Only God can heal a wound that deep.

This mirrored an experience we had a couple of years ago. One young woman told us that the Kony rebels had come into her village and brutally murdered many people, including her mother and father. They also committed other unspeakable atrocities.

She asked if she must forgive. I still do not know of an adequate answer, but I told her that when she forgave, she did not give up her right to justice. She only gave up her right to judgment and gave that to Jesus, to whom it rightly belonged. I told her she would see justice with her own eyes at the Final Judgment, and that justice would be more terrible than anything she could ever imagine. We pray God’s truth will set her free.

Emmaus Center

This is our sixteenth year at the Emmaus Center. They always say, “Welcome home!”—and it is like coming home. The people are loving and welcoming—it’s a little piece of heaven. This major force for good has influenced not only Uganda, but countries all around Africa. Most of the CCR leaders we have encountered in Uganda were formed by Emmaus’ programs.

While we were there, we spoke with Frances Auno, who lost her young adult daughter last July. It is still a gaping wound. The healing is quiet and hidden, but God is lighting the path one long day and one excruciating step at a time. I am awed by the faith of Frances and her husband. It was a blessing to sit with her and to hear her story. It is always difficult for a community leader to share deeply with those around her, and she felt safe. Thank You, Jesus!

Praise and Thanksgiving

At the beginning of one of our presentations, it began to rain, and it got louder and louder, until it was almost deafening. The rain was a tremendous blessing, as there had been a severe drought for months. In some areas, the people were so hungry, they were boiling leaves from trees to stay alive.

Therefore, we decided to praise the Lord in thanksgiving until the rain stopped. The praises of God rose over the leaders. The dancing quickly exploded, with the line of people dancing all through the church. And the rain didn’t stop until the hour was over! Everyone was happy, and many said the praise of God and the much-needed rain was the testimony and the answer from God. We then went to Adoration and Mass.

Holiness

One excellent talk came from Rose Keifer, a CCR interpreter, international speaker, and bestselling author who lives on faith. She is single, but adopted her late sister’s children and other orphans. She is a remarkable woman—an example of the fruit Renewal Ministries has borne in Uganda and throughout the world. She spoke on the universal call to holiness, reminding us that being in the CCR is not about conferences, missions, or saving souls; it is about holiness. She quoted often from Ralph Martin’s book The Fulfillment of all Desire: “Holiness is not an option!” “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice and all these things shall be added to you as well” (Mat 6:33).

Holiness does not come from saying rosaries or participating in Jericho marches. Holiness is aligning our will with God’s will and accepting the circumstances He chooses for us. When we focus on anything other than Christ, we become like Martha and start to complain. We try to become God by telling God what to do. We see this in Luke 10:40: “But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’” She was ordering God around! Too often, we do our will in God’s name, not God’s will for us.

I also spoke on practical steps to holiness: repentance, faith, and forgiveness. Repentance is a change in our minds that leads to a change in our actions, not just feeling sorry for something. Sin has two components, rebellion and deception. We can repent of the rebellion, but if we still believe the lie, we will repeat the sin. When we sin again and again and cannot control it, we tend to justify it.

Also, forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. It is a gift we give ourselves; holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking poison while hoping the other person gets sick!

Touching Jesus’ Cloak

Before one of our healing services, Lloyd described when Bishop Sam Jacobs set the monstrance on a small table at the foot of the altar; put candles on the table; knelt behind the table, holding the monstrance; and invited the people to kneel before the Lord and tell Him their needs.

Just like the woman in Scripture who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed, he had people touch the cloth around base of the monstrance and then go to the side of the room for prayer. It was extremely powerful.

Fr. David Byaruhanga, the national CCR spiritual director and an exorcist, wanted to lead his people in prayer that way as well. Fr. David held the monstrance, and they were permitted to touch the cloth around it as they told Jesus their needs. He stood for over an hour, holding Jesus in front of the altar, and people came to speak to Jesus about their problems, touch the hem of His garment, and go to the sides of the church for prayer. Sometime during the service, Fr. David began to tremble, as power went out of him!

We are seeing an increase in healing and freedom in Uganda! Thanks for allowing us to serve.

Fr. Ubald Shares Message of Forgiveness

Fr Ubald
Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga

Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga will be at guest at this year’s Gathering.

By Lloyd Greenhaw and Katsey Long

Our time in Rwanda with an amazing and gifted team was very rich, but one especially beautiful fruit to come of our time there was our relationship with Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga, who you can learn more about at www.frubald.com.

One of our team members, Katsey Long, is a social worker who is in the midst of filming a documentary on Fr. Ubald. For the past eight years, she has spent her time between Rwanda and the US.

Fr. Ubald has a harrowing story from the Rwandan genocide. He was a participant in our first Unbound training sessions in Rwanda and found freedom in Christ. His story, from Katsey, follows:

During the genocide, Fr. Ubald was pastor of a parish. He had hired guards and was trying to protect his 45,000 parishioners, when the mayor and the district leaders suggested he leave. They told him they wouldn’t hurt anybody if he left. This was in May, and genocide had been going on for a little while. Fr. Ubald called his bishop, who came to get him.

When it was time for him to leave, the people formed an aisle for him, and he walked through the pathway out to the car. Everyone was sobbing, because they knew they were going to die after he left, so the bishop said he would stay with them that night.

The bishop left the next day, and within two days, they started killing everyone. About 45,000 people died within three days. At the time, Fr. Ubald wanted to die; he wanted to go back with his people and die with them. He was devastated at what happened and that he had trusted the leadership.

Fr. Ubald stayed at the bishop’s house for about three weeks. After that, he got a phone call from a friend who warned him about plans to kill him. “They will put your head on a stake and process it through the parish so everyone will know you have no power,” they said. He decided to escape.

Fr. Ubald took the money he had and paid for five other people to escape with him. One of them, a priest, did not make the rendezvous point and was killed in the genocide. The rest of them escaped in the middle of the night to the Congo. Once he got there, Fr. Ubald continued on to Lourdes, France, where people paid for him to come to find healing.

In fact, he was healed at Lourdes. While going up the hill during Stations of the Cross, a priest said, “Jesus accepted His cross,” and Fr. Ubald heard a voice say, “Ubald pick up your cross, the genocide is your cross.”  Once he accepted it as his cross, Fr. Ubald stopped crying. When he returned to Rwanda in January of 1995, he started preaching forgiveness, because he knew forgiveness is the only way.

At that time people, did not want to hear the message of forgiveness, but Fr. Ubald continued to preach it and to visit the prisons of Rwanda to tell the perpetrators to ask for pardon for what they had done. One day, he was preaching in a prison, when a man came up to him and said, “I need to ask something of you Fr. Ubald. I was the one that ordered your mother to be killed, and I would like to ask for your forgiveness.”

Fr. Ubald wept, then went over and hugged the man and said, “In the name of Jesus, I forgive you.” Then, on his way home, he was thinking, “I wonder if that man really believes that I have forgiven him?” He decided he wanted to do something to prove his forgiveness.

Later that day, Fr. Ubald received a call telling him the man’s children were now basically orphans. The mother had died, and since the father was imprisoned and could not pay the school fees, they were kicked out of school. Fr. Ubald adopted both of those children. He continues to help them as they grow up and try to make a life for themselves. One of them is at medical school, and he continues to pay her educational expenses. The father will get out of prison next year, and Fr. Ubald will help him find a way to make a living and to help people. He continues to preach that message all over the country.

At Fr. Ubald’s healing services, it is not uncommon for there to be 30,000 people, and when he does them at a place like Kigali’s Maharo Stadium, 80,000 people will come to hear him preach about forgiveness and reconciliation, and he sees many, many healings: physical, emotional, trauma, cancer, HIV, bones healed, lame walk, blind see. However, he considers the greatest miracle when someone chooses to forgive and to be free. His services are not just for Catholics but for everybody, including Muslims and Pentecostals. He also comes to the United States twice a year.

Dream Team at Kibeho, Rwanda with Fr. Ubald
Renewal Ministries’ Rwanda Mission Team

The Five Keys is an important part of Fr. Ubald’s work, and he learned it from one of Renewal Ministries’ earliest retreats in Rwanda. Prior to that, he had often done hands-on healing in small groups. He had told his bishop that people were coming back to him saying they had been healed. The bishop said, “That gift is not for you; that gift is for the world.” After five years of having a healing gift, the Lord gave Fr. Ubald the gift of the word of knowledge. He continued to pray faithfully that God would heal, and He did. And then, five years he got the word of knowledge gift, he learned the Five Keys from Renewal Ministries. With that knowledge, and with the experience of processing with a monstrance amidst a huge crowd at Lloyd Greenhaw’s request, he found the confidence to start to do healing services on a large scale.

With the help of donors, he has since purchased land on the shore of Lake Kisu for large missions—200,000 people can attend events there. A huge statue of Divine Mercy overlooks the venue. Fr. Ubald also has started a center for forgiveness and reconciliation here, called The Center for the Secret of Peace.  He brings together perpetrators and victims to participate together in the process of reconciliation.

Mercy Shine at Kibeho, Rwanda 2016 (3)
People reaching out to touch the Divine Mercy statue.