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International Peacemaker from Rwanda to discuss her country’s history

Presbyterian pastor to shed light on ‘rebuilding and reuniting’ after genocide

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Julie Kandema

LOUISVILLE — An International Peacemaker from Rwanda will visit the United States this fall to share how the country has evolved since the genocide against the Tutsis in 1994.

Julie Kandema, an ordained pastor with the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda, is one of 10 peacemakers from around the world who will be available to make in-person visits to congregations, mid councils and communities in partnership with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

“By sharing stories of their work and witness, the peacemakers help us understand peace and justice concerns around the world and provide insights that can inspire us to greater faithfulness,” according to the Peacemaking Program. “Their visits broaden our sense of God’s inclusive family and help equip us to build a culture of peace and nonviolence for all God’s children.”

Kandema, who’s based in the capital city of Kigali, will discuss a tumultuous period of her country’s history in which an estimated 1 million people were killed by ethnic Hutu extremists who waged violence against the minority Tutsi people.

“During my visit to U.S. churches, I am willing to share with the congregants the journey of my country and the church in rebuilding and reuniting Rwandans,” she said. “I am participating in the International Peacemakers because I want to share my experience in peace and reconciliation, and I want to learn from the experience of my brothers and sisters from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”

The Presbyterian Church in Rwanda brings together genocide survivors from both sides of the conflict. (Photo by Mark Crowner)

Earlier this month, the United Nations and others observed the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, paying tribute to those who lost their lives and acknowledging that the international community could have done more to save them.

“Much more could — and should — have been done,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his 2022 message acknowledging the day. “A generation after the events, the stain of shame endures. As we remember the bloodshed 28 years ago, we recognize that we always have a choice. To choose humanity over hatred; compassion over cruelty; courage over complacency; and reconciliation over rage.”

A Rwandan landscape (Photo by Nancy Collins)

In addition to discussing the genocide, Kandema will highlight challenges that Rwandans are facing today, such as unemployment and the consequences of COVID-19.

Kandema, who is married with three children, is vice president of her church, which is involved in supporting, empowering and equipping Rwandans to overcome their economic struggles.

As a church leader, “I am involved in different ways, encouraging people, especially the women and the youth who are more affected by unemployment, to start small business(es) and some income-generating projects,” Kandema said. “In other words, we train and encourage our people to create jobs instead of seeking jobs.”

If you would like information about how to host a peacemaker in your community, go here.

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Give to the Peace & Global Witness Offering to continue the valuable ministry of these International Peacemaker visits.

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