Condemns the Bible dreads

"At the Lord's Supper we are all God's children"

Sunday morning in a Protestant church in Kigali: The pastor calls his prayer in the barren room, the worshipers stretch their arms towards the ceiling and talk confused with their eyes closed. Some break down crying. Everything is more reminiscent of a gym than a church. There is no cross or pulpit. The faithful have been praying and singing here in one of the many Rwandan Born Again churches since six in the morning. More and more Rwandans are calling themselves "Born Again" - as born again Christians. Since the end of the genocide, the charismatic Protestant churches have become increasingly popular.

Consolation in new churches

The German pastor J├╝rgen Zimmermann worked for the Lutheran Church in Rwanda until 1994, when he had to flee. He has often returned to Rwanda after the genocide. He sees a connection between the influx of the Born Again churches and the genocide: "This is partly due to the fact that the established churches were not felt to be up to par when the events were looming and happening," says Zimmermann . Many people would then have sought their consolation in the new churches. "These churches had the advantage of not having a burdened history in Rwanda."

Guilty priests

Tutsi were also massacred in Nyamata church

Until the genocide, Rwanda was the most Catholic country in Africa. But it is precisely among the Catholic priests that many are complicit in the genocide. The most famous case is that of the priest Athanase Seromba. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on appeal by the UN Criminal Court in Arusha in March 2009. Seromba is held responsible for the deaths of 1,500 Tutsi who were hiding in his church in Nyange. The priest is said to have instructed an excavator driver to demolish the church. Faustin, now 30, was in exile with his family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the massacre occurred. His mother's entire family was killed in Nyange church.

Disappointed with the Catholic Church

Faustin's parents were killed by Hutu militias in the Congo after the genocide. After the genocide, the lawyer converted from Catholicism to Protestantism. He is one of the many born again Christians in Rwanda. "When I saw the genocide in Rwanda and how the priests betrayed their congregations and how people died in the churches, it influenced my decision to move away from the Catholic Church. After all, he was born- Again. "I think the genocide had an impact on it," says Faustin.

Faustin managed to forgive the perpetrators with the help of his faith. Hutu and Tutsi pray and sing together in his community. Ethnicity does not play a role here. "God calls us to supper with his son. And when you come to supper with your son, there are no Hutu, there are no Tutsi, no Twa, not white, not black," says Faustin. There is only the child of God. "If I am called to the Lord's Supper, and someone who has killed is called to the same Lord's Supper, then we do not share the story of the killing, but we share that God has forgiven us. That we have been accepted by God, that we are God Have become children. "

Dear belief

Church service with a lot of emotions

Many critics say that becoming God's child is too high a price for the Born Again churches. The believers here usually pay a tenth of their annual income to the churches, which are often run by Americans. Often also those who already barely have enough money to survive. Pastor Zimmermann sees another problem with the new churches. He speaks of the "gospel of prosperity". "It is deduced that people who are particularly religious are rewarded with prosperity," says Zimmermann. The question then arises as to how suffering and failure are to be assessed theologically under this premise. "I believe that the Bible shows us a different way. I believe that the example of Jesus Christ is a much more nuanced one and that it is precisely there that it is good for the new churches to pay closer attention to the Bible."

Paying close attention to the Bible - for the parishioners in the hall in Kigali, this means interpreting the Bible word for word. Almost everyone sitting here on the wooden benches has their Bible open in their hands. The worshipers listen carefully to the pastor's sermon and write notes on the thin Bible paper. It is difficult to say whether they are so religious despite or precisely because of the genocide.

Author: Christine Harjes
Editor: Dirk Bathe