4 out of 4 stars
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Has violence broken out in your city? Should rioting and shootings get nearer to your home, what would you do? Phodidas Ndamyumugabe, PhD, had to confront such a dilemma when the Rwandan genocide broke out in 1994. He tells his true story in Preaching from the Grave: A Breathtaking Story of Faith, Prayer, and Forgiveness.
Phodidas loved his natal country of Rwanda. The beautiful countryside and rivers of Kibuye enchanted him. He remembered growing up in a large family and attending local schools. His peaceful life ended when the presidential plane was shot down on April 6, 1994. From that moment on, as a Tutsi, he had to flee for his life. His appearance and his official ID gave him away at each roadblock. He received two stab wounds to the head, hid in the bush for several weeks, and dug his grave under the orders of a Hutu militiaman. How did Phodidas survive? How was he able to escape death and live to tell his story?
The country of Rwanda broke out in a genocidal war in 1994. The Hutus were intent on eliminating their rival tribe, the Tutsis. Many of us remember seeing the horrible images of thousands of dead Tutsis slaughtered and left by the roadside. The primary weapon used by the Hutus was a machete, which they swung indiscriminately against men, women, and children. Phodidas and several friends walked from place to place, trying to avoid the killing. He recounted their journey and the times they hid when the enemy got too close. His greatest challenge came after the conflict ended. As a pastor, Phodidas had the opportunity to preach to the soldiers who had killed people he knew. Would he be able to forgive them and share God’s love with them?
I enjoyed the format of the book. Each chapter opened with an appropriate Bible verse that related to that chapter’s content. The chapter closed with a silhouette photo that highlighted the main event of the chapter. The author wrote openly and confidently about his faith and trust in God as a source of strength during these difficult circumstances. Readers will find prayers, Bible readings, and a sermon in the text. If you do not enjoy faith-based stories, you might not like this book.
The author used simple, straightforward language to describe his flight from the militiamen during the genocide. I appreciated the honesty reflected in his admission of moments of doubt and lack of trust in God’s protection. The author took care to speak of the violence without giving gory details.
Most of the cities mentioned in the book were unfamiliar to me. My only dislike was the lack of a map indicating the towns named in the story. The location of the UN camp and the refugee camps would have added clarity to the story. The book doesn’t contain any profanity and only a few grammatical errors.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The historical value, the emotional recounting of the author’s experiences, and the lack of errors make this an intriguing read. Readers interested in learning about the Rwandan genocide would find valuable information in Phodidas’s story. Christians would be encouraged by the author's testimonies of God's deliverance and answers to prayer. This book offers insights into the causes of social unrest that result in violence and killing. Students of political science would benefit from the author’s conclusions about the rise of such movements and how to avoid them.
Preaching from the Grave
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