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Gospel Demolition: From Our Hearts to the Ends of the Earth (Acts 10:1 – 11:18)

Intro: “Reconcilable Differences: Fifteen years after genocide, Rwanda is showing signs of healing.” – by Mark Moring, Christianity Today, June 19, 2009

Marc Sahabo, a shy, kind man, reaches out to greet me. As I shake his hand, I can’t help thinking about what that hand was doing in April 1994: wielding a machete and killing 15 people during Rwanda’s genocide, which left about a million people dead.

The next hand I shake is that of Felicita Mukabakunda, a woman who was Sahabo’s friend and neighbor for years, until ethnic tensions between the Hutu majority and Tutsi minority rose to lethal levels. When the killings began, Mukabakunda, a Tutsi, hid in nearby marshes while Sahabo and other Hutus went on their rampage. She overheard them say that they planned to take turns raping her before killing her. She also heard Sahabo say he had killed her father, her uncle, and four other family members.

The killers never found Mukabakunda; she and her husband and children fled to a safe area in Rwanda and briefly lived in a camp for displaced persons. When they returned home after the genocide, Mukabakunda learned that 29 family members – including 16 brothers and sisters – had been murdered.

“I had so much hatred,” she told me. “I wanted Marc to die a slow, painful death. I would have killed him if I could.” But Sahabo, fearing for his life, had fled to Burundi, then to Tanzania. When Rwanda later negotiated with Tanzania for the return of the perpetrators, Marc was immediately arrested and jailed. He spent seven years in prison before his 2003 release.

Because of prison overcrowding, some 50,000 offenders – those who were minors during the genocide or those who confessed, including Sahabo – have been released. (Some estimate that it would take about 400 years to try all of the cases in the courts. So today, only the worst, most unrepentant killers remain behind bars, including a few genocide leaders held in Tanzania.)

When Sahabo returned home after his release from prison, he was afraid that surviving Tutsis in the community might take revenge and kill him.

Revenge and fear – just the reactions one would expect in post-genocide Rwanda, even 15 years after the most traumatic event in world affairs since the Nazi Holocaust.

–          We live in a dark, dark world

  • Rwanda is one of the most vivid examples of human depravity
  • From the moment sin entered the world, we have seen how violent and distorted and brutal humanity can be
    • We see countless examples of violence, ethnocentrism, racism, sexism, genocide, exploitation, and brutality of all sorts in the Bible
      • And we still see it today

–          As we have been going through the books of Acts, we have begun to see the words of Jesus lived out that he said in Acts 1:8  – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

  • God’s promise in Genesis 3 of a Savior has been His Mission (Missio Dei), in order to deal with sin and redeem His people, because of His great love
    • That mission was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, but God is all about wholeness and completeness – shalom!
    • The Hebrew word Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord

–          We live in a world in need of shalom, desperate for shalom, and yet still blind to shalom

  • Why? Jehovah-Shalom – The Lord is Peace – Shalom is only through God
    • The Gospel is Peace – Ephesians 6:15: “And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”
  • What does this have to do with mission?
    • Hear what Paul said in Romans 10:14-15: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
      • God’s Church is sent to announce the good news of God’s Kingdom, to spread His shalom around the whole world
      • That is why Jesus built his Church, to continue the mission of God, to bring wholeness and restoration and reconciliation to the world
        • Jesus restores the fallen relationship between God and man, but God also desires for the fallen relationships between mankind to be restored
        • And guess what?…It is God’s desire that His Church be the leaders and the advocates and the doers of reconciliation and justice and shalom!

–          So what does it take for the Church to continue the mission of God, to make disciples, to rebuild and restore what has been broken, and to bring shalom?

  • It takes some Busting! It takes some Wreckage! It takes some Demolition… GOSPEL DEMOLITION!!! – In order for the Church to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, the Gospel has to melt hearts of stone and break down walls of injustice

Context: We spent the last 2 weeks going through the incredible conversion and ministry of Paul

–          We met this extraordinary sinner saved by grace and how his life is transformed

  • We were reminded that no one it too far to be saved, and that when we are saved we are part of this one body called the Church; also, we are saved for a purpose, to be God’s chosen instruments for His mission, for His ministry, for His glory; and          when God saves us, we welcome the prodigals – All because of grace that has changed us!

–          Last week we heard about the compelling love of God that moves us to impact others with the Gospel, as a Church, to be on mission for the Gospel; we were reminded to look at God’s heart, a heart for all people, for all the world, for those shivering in the cold; and to remember the Cross, where Jesus gave up his life and died, so that we could have life – How great the Father’s love for us!

–          In today’s passage, Acts 10 – 11:18, Luke brings us back to Peter

  • I think Luke records chapter 9 and chapter 10 the way he did to highlight these monumental events in the lives of these Apostles
    • It’s as if Luke was showing his readers the hearts of these men, revealing what Gospel transformation needed to take place for each of them
    • For Paul, he needed to be overwhelmed by grace, to know that he is saved by grace alone, and eventually allows him to say in Philippians 3:7-8: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
    • For Peter, with all his zeal, all his ethnic and theological pride, he needed to take off the Jewish lenses and see through the eyes of Christ
      • Remember, Jesus reinstated Peter and commanded him to feed his sheep
        • Peter would soon find out his sheep were not only kosher ones
  • It would take more Gospel transformation for Peter to finally understand that Christianity was not about being Jewish, but he would come around and was able to say these words in Acts 15:11: “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

–          In this passage, the key players are Peter and Cornelius

  • They have been on a collision course for Gospel Demolition before time began
    • Their paths have never crossed, but who they are at their core and what they represent have been at war since the Fall
      • Sin, Pride, Jealousy, Anger, Hatred, Selfishness, Exploitation
  • God’s Chosen People – Israel vs. Everyone else
  • Jews vs. Gentiles
    • All the divisions and racism and stereotypes, all the bloodshed and violence, come face to face…Because of the Gospel!

–          So what happens when the Gospel comes busting down and wrecking?

  • What does Gospel Demolition do?
  1. I.       Gospel Demolition results in the transformation of sinful hearts. – Acts 10:1-33

–          Luke introduces us to Cornelius of Caesarea, a centurion, a commander of up to a 100 Roman soldiers – Italian Cohort means they were an auxiliary group part of battalion

  • Look at how he is described (v.2):
    • A Devout man
    • He and all his household feared God
    • He gave generously to the poor
    • And He prayed continually to God
    • This was a man who worshiped the God of Israel
      • He followed all the Jewish customs and practices, except circumcision, so he was a Gentile
        • In spite of the Roman Army having their own religious observances, Cornelius worship Yahweh
        • Listen to what scholar and professor Darrel Bock says abut Cornelius:
          • It is possible that Cornelius was a former slave
            • More than 10,000 former slaves took this name when Cornelius Sulla freed them in 82 BC
  • Also, he was a person of high social status – To the Jewish mind, Cornelius would be a real threat if he were to come to the newly emerging faith
    • It would make Jews who feared close relations with Gentiles nervous if Christianity gained support among some Gentiles of high social standing and pulled them away from their leanings toward Judaism, for it would tighten Gentile-Christian links and give stability and social credibility to the new movement
    • So we have a Gentile man, possibly a former slave, now a high standing Roman citizen, who was despised and feared by Jews, and even possibly causing suspicion to Jewish Christians
      • And Luke says that this man is a God follower! – Despite all he has been through and what Jews think of him, he follows Yahweh devoutly!
        • This is the power of the Gospel, transforming hearts, raising people beyond their earthly identities, people changed by God!

–          God comes to Cornelius in a vision with a monumental task (v.3)

  • As Cornelius is praying at 3pm, as he followed Jewish ritual and custom, he clearly sees in a vision an angel of God
    • In fear and humility he says, “What is it Lord?”
    • The angel says that Cornelius’s prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial to God
      • This is extremely significant because God is telling Cornelius that He is pleased with him and He has accepted his prayers and offerings as a pleasing sacrifice to God
        • Cornelius was truly and man who loved and followed God!
  • It is easy to look at someone with our own standards and sell them short, but praise God that He truly knows us and looks at our hearts!
  • The angel instructs Cornelius to go and get Peter (vv.5-6)
    • God does this because he knows what Cornelius is lacking
      • He is lacking nothing in terms of his response to God as His Creator and Lord, as is evident with his acceptable prayers and almsgiving
  • So what possibly could this devout God-fearing man be lacking if God was pleased with him?
    • Remember, he was a Gentile! He was not circumcised, so he was unclean in the eyes of the Jewish community
      • He lacked the assurance of salvation, and he could have none until he received a Word from God
      • This is why God wants him to bring Peter, so the apostle can give him that assurance!
  • I often tell my wife it doesn’t matter what other people think, but when sin rules in us we can certainly do some major damage to people
    • It is precisely because of the way we think directed by what rules us that has caused humanity to be so despicable
    • Cornelius did not know that he was acceptable to God as he was because of what the Jews thought of him!
  • We do a great disservice to people who want to know and follow God and be saved when what we think translates to them Jesus AND__________.
  • After the angels speaks to him, Cornelius obeys and does what he has been instructed (vv.7-8)
    • At the same time, God is preparing Peter for his task of ministering to the Gentiles

–          If God were going to have Peter go into a Gentile home, he would have to prepare him by breaking down his prejudices

  • Professor and scholar FF Bruce says that, “there were scruples to be overcome on Peter’s side as there not on Cornelius’s. A God-fearing Gentile like Cornelius had no objection to the society of Jews, but even a moderately orthodox Jew would not willingly enter the dwelling of a Gentile, God-fearer though he might be. No doubt some of Peter’s inherited scruples were weighing less heavily with him by this time, but to make him accept an invitation to visit a Gentile a special revelation was necessary.”
    • And that’s exactly what God would provide him

–          As Peter is praying he becomes hungry, and while the food is being prepared he falls into a trance (vv.9-10)

  • Professor William J. Larkin Jr. says that this trance that came on Peter was “not a dream, nor does Peter lose control of his senses. Rather, the presence of the Lord so comes upon him that he is in profound state of concentration.”
    • We see here that God again is taking the initiative to bring Peter and the Gentiles together
    • When God has a purpose for you, He sees it through till the work is done

–          In this trance, Peter sees something like a great sheet descending from heaven, being led down by its four corners upon the earth (v.            11)

  • The four corners probably refers to the worldwide dimensions of the vision’s significance
  • In this sheet are all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air (v.12)
    • There is no doubt some of these animals were unclean, as indicated by Peter’s response in verse 13
    • God tells him to rise, sacrifice, and eat, but Peter’s upbringing, his tradition, his religion, and frankly his conscience tell him, “No!”
      • How could he sacrifice something that was not fit according to God, and then eat something that was deemed unclean by God?
  • I don’t believe Peter was being overzealous here – after all, he was following God’s law in order to be holy and set apart, and following his conviction that if he ate he would be unfit to come into God’s presence to worship
  • God responds by telling him that what God has made clean, do not call unclean (v.15) – This happens three times, and then the sheet was taken up into heaven (v.16)
    • God was telling Peter that it is divine mandate, not something inherent in the creature, that established the dividing line between clean and unclean
    • Peter was most probably brought back to what Jesus said in Mark 7, that it is not was goes into someone’s stomach the conveys defilement, but what comes out of one’s heart
    • This removal of food restrictions was a huge step in breaking down the barriers between believing Jews and Gentiles
    • This is good news! – As pastor and theologian HA Ironside said, “No matter how low, vile or utterly useless and corrupt or unclean, the soul that trusts in Jesus is in the sheet let down from Heaven and will have a place in glory by and by.”

–          While Peter was inwardly perplexed by this vision, the men sent by Cornelius arrive (vv.17-18)

  • The Spirit tells Peter that there are three men looking for him and that he should go with them without hesitation, for God had sent them (vv.19-20)
    • Peter obeys, as did Cornelius previously, because he had a heavenly encounter – When God speaks to us clearly, how quick are we to obey, especially when it requires going out of our comfort zone?
    • Peter goes down and reveals himself to the men and asks what their business is (v.22)
      • They respond by saying that Cornelius, a Centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken by the Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say (v.22)
        • Wouldn’t it be great if every ministry opportunity were that clear and direct?           Even so, would our eagerness match the opportunity?
  • Peter welcomes the men as his guests and they spend the night (v.23)
  • The next day they head out for Caesarea and reach there the day after (vv.23-24)
    • Cornelius was expecting them and gathered relatives and friends

–          The next scene is incredible to me – Peter walks in and Cornelius falls at his feet and worshipped him (v.25)

  • Think about the kind of person Cornelius has become – this devout Roman soldier bowing down at the apostle’s feet, in his own home before his relatives and close friends
    • A Gentile centurion, a Roman solider, bowing down reverently before a Jew who has once been just a poor fisherman! – This is the power of the Gospel, transforming a heart to look past race, class, social status, and welcoming a brother in Christ in such a humble and beautiful way!

–          Peter’s response shows that he has quickly understood what God was revealing to him in the trance (v.26) – “Stand up; I too am a man.”

  • He was both affirming their equality and declaring to Cornelius that there is only one who deserves our worship, and that is God alone
    • But I believe that Cornelius acted in this way because he was filled with joy at the sight of the one whose message would bring salvation!

–          A whole company is eagerly for the Word and Peter speaks to them (v.27)

  • Peter puts it all together and understands what God was making clear to him
    • He was ready to give the Gospel to these Gentiles and he speaks clearly and powerfully (v.28)
      • In humility, Peter states the obvious, that he is not supposed to be here, but he has been transformed by God!
  • His declaration is monumental because he is saying that it only matters what God says, and before God we are all cleaned and are saved
    • This was the assurance Cornelius was lacking!
  • William J. Larkin Jr. says, “Just as the external cultural barrier between holy and profane (the common), clean and unclean, has come down, so the prejudicial barrier between races and ethnic groups is forever removed. No human being is to be treated as profane, somehow beyond the reach of sacred God’s saving and sanctifying work.”
  • This is why Paul can say in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

–          Peter says because of what God has done in me, he has come without objection (v.29) – Naturally, he asks why they have asked him to come

  • Cornelius explains how an angel came to him and told him to bring Peter to his home – Why? “Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” (v.33)
    • Jesus told his disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth
      • They had crossed the first three, but not to the Gentiles
  • God is bringing a Gentile to Peter in order for Peter to realize that God has orchestrated this historic meeting, the inauguration of the Gentile mission
  • Luke continues to emphasize that the Gentile mission is God’s will and would not have happened without divine intervention

–          When we think of the issues race and ethnicity and injustice, we must realize that it is a sin issue

  • This is why God hates injustice, because it’s sin
    • When the Gospel comes in and breaks our sinful hearts, breaking down the walls we have put up, allowing Christ to dwell and rule, it transforms us to have hearts after God – Gospel demolition results in the transformation of sinful hearts.
  1. II.    Gospel Demolition results in the reconciliation of divided peoples. – Acts 10:34 – 10:48

–          Peter welcomes the opportunity to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (v.34)

  • He begins by telling them the good news – God does not show favoritism, and anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him (v.35)
    • He was saying that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, were accountable to God for their sins and needed a Savior
    • This broke down the racial and religious prejudices of centuries
    • Even though this was a brand new revelation for Peter, this was not a brand new sentiment
      • Remember why God chose Abraham in Genesis 12? “In you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen.12:3)
        • God’s purpose in choosing Abraham and Israel was for them to attract the nations to God by setting them apart and being holy
  • It was always God’s intention for His chosen people to bring salvation to the ends of the earth, yet Israel failed miserably and used their election to think of themselves as superior, and so they looked down on non-Jews so badly, and in doing so lost their purpose and mission

–          Next, Peter reviews the Gospel with them, highlighting that Jesus is Lord of all (vv.36-43) – This word, the Gospel, is the good news of peace through Jesus Christ – Shalom! (v.36)

  • Darrel Bock says, “Jesus is exalted and is Lord of all people. Since he is Lord of all, the Gospel can go to all, including people of the nations (Gentiles.”
  • Peter then goes on to share with them about baptism, and about the Holy Spirit, and about the good Jesus was doing
    • Do you see what he is doing here? He is living out Jesus’s Great Commission! – Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all of Christ’s teachings! – Peter is on mission!
    • He continues about Jesus’s death and resurrection (vv.39-41)
      • He concludes this sermon with the amazing truth: “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (v.43)
        • Jesus saves, not good works, not rituals and traditions, and saves not just Jews – He will save anyone who calls on his name
  • The word was so clear, the Gospel was so plain, and it was all so simple, that Cornelius and his household understood what they heard
    • Salvation by grace through faith

–          What happens next is quite amazing! The Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word (v.44). God, who shows no partiality, uses the same manifestation of His Holy Spirit to declare that they were accepted by God and full and equal members of His people

  • God intentionally brings this Gentile Pentecost to essentially say that He is God and not bound in any way to any people or culture, even the Jews!
  • Those who accompanied Peter, believers from among the circumcised, were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on even the Gentiles (v.45)
    • They knew that because they were speaking in tongues that this was truly God giving the Gentiles the Holy Spirit, the very same Holy Spirit and in the very same way they encountered in Acts 2
      • Again, it seems very clear here, as in Acts 2, that the manifestation of tongues is to make clear to the Jewish Christians that salvation was for all people
        • The Spirit being poured out on the Gentiles and manifesting in tongues was to reaffirm the Gentile mission
      • The proclamation and advancement of the Gospel to the ends of the earth is always the purpose in all the resources and blessings God bestows upon the Church
  • God does this in the witness of Peter and the Jewish believers to further break down the barriers between them and the Gentiles
    • Yes, salvation is for them, and yes, the Holy Spirit is for them as well!
    • Here what FF Bruce says: “Gentiles, those ‘lesser breeds without the law,’ had actually received the Holy Spirit as [the Jews] themselves had received on believing the same message. How right Peter had been in his new insight into the impartiality of God as between people of one race and another! As is Peter’s vision the voice of God overruled food restrictions, even those imposed with authority of divine law, so now the act of God in sending the Spirit overruled the sacred tradition which forbade association with Gentiles.”
      • The Gospel is reconciling Jews and Gentiles!

–          Peter can’t help but declare the obvious and familiar pattern of what should come next: water baptism (v.47)

  • As on the day of Pentecost, the sequence of initiation into the new community was marked by baptism
    • The Gentiles turned from their sin and turned to God and had received the Holy Spirit, and now were welcomed to be baptized
    • Peter commanded that the Gentiles be baptized in name of Jesus Christ (v.48)
      • This is a beautiful picture we see here – enemies now one family
        • Jews embracing Gentiles into the family of God, as brothers and sisters, affirming their equality as barriers have been broken

–          This was an incredible moment of reconciliation, an incredible transformation, especially when we think of where we’ve come from:

  • In The Meaning of Marriage, Kathy Keller writes:
    • “Genesis 3 recounts the Fall, in which both man and woman sin against God and are expelled from the Garden of Eden. We immediately see the catastrophic change in the unity between man and woman. The air is filled with blame shifting, finger pointing, and accusation. Rather than their Otherness becoming a source of completion, it becomes an occasion for oppression and exploitation. The woman remains dependent and desirous of her husband, but it turns into an idolatrous desire, and his protection and love become a selfish lust and exploitation.”

–          Reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel

  • The Gospel restores what was lost in the Garden of Eden: Fellowship with God and fellowship with each other
  • Because of Jesus, we are reconciled to God and to each other, so what was lost has now been restored – Gospel Demolition results in the reconciliation of divided peoples.

III. Gospel Demolition results in the restoration of the Church. – Acts 11:1-18

–          The word gets out that the Gentiles also received the word of God (v.1)

  • Peter goes up to Jerusalem and was not received warmly (v.2)
    • In fact, he was criticized by the circumcision party for fraternizing with Gentiles, namely going to their home and eating with them (v.3)
    • The circumcision party were Jewish believers who were specially zealous for the law and insisted that there should be no social relations between circumcised and uncircumcised
    • Transformation and reconciliation are ongoing – that’s why we need the Gospel everyday, every hour, every minute
      • Although Peter had this incredible revelation, others were not on board or in agreement

–          Peter then recounts from beginning to end everything that took place in God initiating the Gentile mission (vv.4-15)

–          Then he gives a compelling and convicting close of his account to the Church (vv.16-17)

  • Peter does not rely on his own strength, but relies on Scripture as he remembers the words of Jesus:
    • “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
      • In the words of our brother Jimi, “BOOM!!!”
  • The Gospel is our account, our defense – there may be times when you are challenged by culture and tradition and those in authority, but the Gospel breaks down all strongholds

–          The silence of the critics shows the power of the Gospel (v.18a) – Peter’s last statement says it all: Who are we to stand in God’s way?

  • God had acted, and had clearly shown His will – He has bestowed His blessing on Gentiles also giving them through His Spirit a change of mind and heart and the assurance of eternal
    • Even the critics had to admit that this was a matter resulting in wonder and praise, so they glorified God and affirmed God granting repentance that’s leads to life to the Gentiles (v.18b)
    • This was an endorsement of Peter’s actions and of the mission to the Gentiles
    • Here Darrell Bock on this moment in the life of the Church: “God brings various ethnic groups into one in Christ. This message in important in Acts. Jesus brings reconciliation not only with God but also between people. The new community will be diverse in makeup, equal in status, and called to reflect peace with one another.”

–          This is why Jesus came as the Humble King and Servant

  • He broke down barriers to restore the Church for God’s purpose and mission, to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth
  • So the Church, the New Israel, is made up of Jews and Gentiles, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, as we are continuing to see today – Gospel Demolition results in the restoration of the Church.

Conclusion: The Gospel is going to keep on breaking down walls

–          Paul David Tripp gives us a needy reminder of what the Church is:

  • “The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and sanctification center, where flawed people place their faith in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he designed.”

–          There is still much work to be done and the Gospel is still the answer

  • As we’ll see in just a few chapters, the Jerusalem Church and even Peter will need be reminded that Gentiles do not need to become Jewish to follow Christ
    • But the divine appointment of Peter and Cornelius gives us hope!

–          Let’s return to the story of Marc Sahabo and Felicita Mukabakunda

  • It is a testimony of hope

After his release from prison, Sahabo was invited to attend a reconciliation workshop led by Pascal Niyomugabo – who is Mukabakunda’s brother. At first, Sahabo thought it was a trap, that Tutsis would be waiting to kill him. But he attended the workshop anyway, and says, “My heart was changed by Jesus. I wanted to ask the victims for forgiveness, to tell them I was no longer the killer they used to know.”

But Mukabakunda hadn’t been ready to forgive. Her brother, who had already forgiven Sahabo, kept encouraging her. Eventually, she decided it was time.

When they finally met face to face, Sahabo got down on his knees before Mukabakunda, folded his hands, confessed his crimes, and begged for mercy. Mukabakunda put her hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eyes, and said simply, “I forgive you.”

Sahabo says that at that moment, he felt like he “just came out of a shower, a clean man, except it was like a holy shower, because I felt clean on the inside.” For Mukabakunda, a heavy burden lifted, and the migraine headaches and nightmares she had suffered for ten years immediately disappeared and have not returned.

Today, Sahabo and Mukabakunda say they are best friends. Their children play together, and their families regularly share meals. The two of them ride a bike from village to village, telling their story.

“I’m not scared of him anymore,” says Mukabakunda. “Without Jesus, I’d go back to hating Marc. But because of Jesus, I have forgiven Marc, and I love him now.”

Theo Mushinzimana, a reconciliation organization director, says, “Any reconciliation in Rwanda is a result of a biblical process that brings perpetrators and victims together at the foot of the Cross.

“When you have a Hutu who has been transformed by the Holy Spirit to repent and be forgiven, his story can be used in powerful ways to help other victims forgive. A repentant perpetrator also helps other perpetrators to heal, showing them it’s possible to move beyond what they have done and be forgiven.

“And when you have a Tutsi who has forgiven, this is huge. It’s a process that requires great truth – truth that only God’s Word can make possible.”

–          The Gospel transforms, the Gospel reconciles, the Gospel restores…Let’s pray

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