Official Country Name:Republic of Rwanda
Region:East and Southern Africa
Religious Demographics:Christian ±89%, Evangelical ±26%, Muslim ±4%, Ethnoreligious ±4%
Number of Evangelicals
A History of Violence now Speaks to the Peace of the Gospel
The fourth smallest country in Africa, the landlocked nation of Rwanda, has a unique religious and political history. After Christianity expanded in the early 1900's the nation was predominantly Catholic and Muslim. In the late 1900s, the country began to see increased ethnic, religious, and political tensions as elections began to polarize the Rwandan people.
The two predominant Rwanda tribes, the Hutu and the Tutsi, began associating themselves with different political leaders, who strategically used their rhetoric and campaign platform to indoctrinate the tribes against each other. This was done during a period of the Rwandan civil war in early 1994, a year that was already riddled with violence, polarization, and societal stress as the poverty-stricken nation tried to support a civil war.
As the year progressed, the Hutu and Tutsi tribes, among other smaller minority groups such as the Twa tribe, were turned against each other. The nation participated in the systematic campaign of attempted mass extermination of the Tutsi people. The nation's leaders indoctrinated the ethnic majority Hutu tribe by dehumanizing the Tutsi people, calling them worthless, burdens on society, and referring to them as ""cockroaches.""
It was through this polarization, dehumanization, and hateful violence that approximately 1 million Rwandans were killed in a span of 3 months. An estimated 800,000 of those deaths were Tutsi people, including the elderly, women, and children.
Through this horrific mass extermination, many Rwandan believers were spared by denouncing their ethnic heritage to any one tribe and claiming their allegiance to the House of God. When asked what tribe they belonged to, believers could answer with ""I am a member of the house of God"" and would oftentimes be spared. Praise God for his providence and grace towards so many children during a horrific and violence-filled year.
Today, not even 30 years later, there have been great strides taken to form ethnic reconciliation, political healing, and spiritual growth of the nation. Rwanda is now 89% Christian, most of that percentage being Catholics, as protestant evangelicals only make up 26% of the population. The Rwandan church is now religiously free, and citizens are welcome to worship as they see fit. Praise God for his redemption and providence over this small country throughout its traumatic past. Pray that Rwandans would use the story of the genocide to speak to His goodness and reconciliation as their nation heals and grows.