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The Importance of Forgiveness

As Jean Paul Samputu says, "Forgiveness is the most powerful unpopular weapon against violence that exists." This weapon does not only fight against community injustice; it also works on one's own heart.

"Sometimes there is nothing you can do about a particular individual or the situation. Therefore retaining the anger in your heart continues to bring pain and bitterness to you and may affect your children in future. Forgiveness is therefore not for the other person, but for you who are bitter. When you forgive, you heal yourself."

Vincent, Jean Paul, and Eugene on the day of their reconciliation

In Jean Paul's case, forgiveness of the people who killed his parents, brothers and sister in the Tutsi genocide seemed so impossible, and undesirable, that it eluded him for years. Only when he found that his own spirit and body were consumed by his own hatred could he forgive to heal himself. In an amazing transformation, the one who previously was full of hatred became full of love. And that love extends to the greatest extent possible — to the killer of one's loved ones. Jean Paul powerfully lives out his message of forgiveness dramatically by remaining in active contact with his family's killer.