20th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide: Local Church has Ties to Country

20 years after a horrific genocide wiped through Rwanda, the country has made ties with churches worldwide, including a church nearly 10,000 miles away in Citrus Heights.

Advent Lutheran Church of Citrus Heights is the sister congregation of the Matimba Parish, a small church founded in 2007 in eastern Rwanda. The local congregation aids its Rwandese partners through prayer and monetary support — and even soccer balls.

The church was also thanked for a donation of over $2,000 that it sent to support a Rwandan Lutheran school in the country, whose motto is “Learn. Empower. Lead.”

But the Advent church is not the only tie that Citrus Heights has to Rwanda.

Peter Hammond, an African missionary who visited Citrus Heights recently, wrote a book titled “Holocaust in Rwanda,” claiming that there is great misunderstanding among people today about the Rwandan genocide.

“To this day, most people worldwide do not understand what happened in Rwanda or why it happened,” says Hammond, explaining his motivation for writing the book.

After interviewing eye witnesses and pouring through over 1,000 documents, he says he believes that Christians were targeted in the genocide. “The killers did not merely kill people in churches, they killed church workers – pastors, ministers, priests and nuns.” A point he says is not typically reported.

20 years later, with nearly 90 percent of the country identifying as Roman Catholic or Protestant, Rwanda is now the most densely populated country in Africa, enjoying peace and religious freedom.