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Preaching From the Grave

Phodidas Ndamyumugabe
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Phodidas Ndamyumugabe, PhD is a professor of applied theology and biblical languages at Weimar Institute, in California. He has a wide experience in church planting and preaching in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Dr. Phodidas’ heart is in missions. He has organized and conducted more than 100 evangelistic campaigns.
He survived one of the most tragic events that took away the lives of more than a million people in the east-central African nation of Rwanda. He also worked in the same region as a preacher and a counselor, dealing with the aftermath of the genocide.
Dr. Phodidas is married to Jacqueline Basime and they have three sons.



  • December 31, 2018
    12:00 PM


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My name is Phodidas Ndamyumugabe, and I don’t expect you people to know the name because it’s a long one, but you will probably come to know it later on. As they told you, I come from Weimar in California where I teach in the department of theology, but originally I come from Rwanda, a very small country in East Central Africa. I’m married; I have three boys and one wife, of course. There’s no reason to say that. And this afternoon I feel the most privileged, and I mean exactly what I say. I feel the most privileged for two reasons. It’s not anyone who stands here and speaks to such a large congregation, but in a special way I feel privileged because I wouldn’t be speaking right now…I’ve a testimony to share with you, and the testimony is entitled “Preaching from the Grave.”


So, it’s exactly what I said. You know, sometimes we have titles, which are beautiful or, you know, thought-provoking or sometimes just to draw the attention of the people, but this is not the case; it is exactly what I mean, “Preaching from the Grave.” So, if that is the case, that means, if I happen to be in my grave one day, then I wouldn’t be preaching at all. I would be in my grave. It is a story of what happened in Rwanda, and it is a story about my own experience during the genocide in 1994, about 24 years ago, but it is actually not my story. It is a story about Jesus. Can you say amen?


Oftentimes we have the stories in the Bible, and we read them, but we probably need the stories even today, don’t we? The situation is not the same today because today Rwanda is very peaceful. It’s probably one of the most peaceful countries in the world. You can go there. You will have no problem. And it is a lovely country, a beautiful country, and, in fact, some of you might have heard of what happened recently. The gospel is being preached; thousands and thousands of people are giving their lives to Jesus. As you might have heard, the TMI, just recently we baptized only within two weeks about 100,000 souls, in just two weeks 100,000. And I happened to be part of the organization. And I was very happy, and I was also coordinating two at the same time. I was preaching in the morning, and I was preaching in the afternoon for another.


So today, it’s peaceful, but 24 years ago it was not the situation because of politicians who fueled hatred and enmity. They told people in Rwanda that they had to hate one another. There were two main tribes, Hutus and Tutsis, and told the Hutus that Tutsis were their enemies. And so, they had actually to kill them all. And within only three months, more than a million people were killed. In three months, 100 days, more than a million people were killed. And I was there personally. I didn’t have a place to hide. I just witnessed what actually happened, as I said.


Now, I was a preacher; I was still young, but I was a preacher. I was, in fact, an elder. I became an elder at the age of 22. And when I was an elder, I preached all over the country. I was invited to speak, and I conducted several evangelistic campaigns. I was excited, but at the same time, the devil was preparing something terrible. Now, let me tell you, who are listening to me this afternoon: Be careful what you pray for. You know, sometimes we’re praying, and we don’t even think about what we are talking about. If you are a man of God, be careful what you pray for because it can happen. Amen?


Well, I oftentimes, when I read the Bible, the Old Testament, I remember praying about the story of Elijah, and I wanted to be like Elijah. I said, “Lord, I want to be like Elijah,” but I didn’t think much about what I was saying. What did it mean to me? I just thought of Elijah on Mount Carmel praying for a miracle, and the fire came from heaven, it destroyed the sacrifice, and that was all, but I didn’t think about the life of Elijah. I prayed for being like David, Daniel and others every time I read my Bible, and it actually happened that God took me through an experience that was the most terrible one, but I praise God because I’m standing here right, now. Amen?


And now the testimony I’m about to share with you, it’s not about just my life, that God saved my life, because I can actually still die even today, right? And those who are dying are not special. I’m just like anyone of them. I believe God saved my life for a purpose. It was just for me to be able to talk to you this afternoon and tell you that God is still in charge. He is in control. Amen? And I’m a witness; it’s not just a testimony; it’s about God I have seen.


Now, I will humble myself before I start the very story I want to share with you and say a word of prayer. Let’s pray together. Heavenly Father, this is a great time. I’m just ready to witness about You and tell these people how good You are and how much You are still in control, even of our lives today. And that You are in charge, that nothing can just happen to us without You being aware or without You allowing it. So, please, Father, I pray that You will stand by my side. You will speak just for Yourself so that all of us at the end of this testimony will have learned that You are a God who is in charge. In Jesus’ name, I pray.


Now, in 1994—I’m not going to tell the whole story, but actually there is good news; I’m just going to give you maybe one-tenth or one out of twenty of the testimony, and the good news is I’m writing a book. It is entitled “Preaching from the Grave.” I’m done with it, it’s going to come out very soon, and somebody offered a gift. One of my leaders at Weimar College, he told me that I will let you know that if 50 people who will actually come and sign for it at the Weimar booth, the first 50, because you may be more than, at the end in the evening, you will get a free book, at least 50 of you. So you can come right in the evening at that booth, and you can sign for it, and we’ll send the book to you.


So, in 1994, when the genocide started in Rwanda, many people were being killed. It was on Thursday morning when they started killing people. And because Rwanda is a hilly country, it is called the country of 1,000 hills. So everywhere you see, you see mountains. So I could see on the other side of the mountain where I was. I could see people being taken out of their houses, put in front of their houses, just lining up, and then shot at once, the whole family – children! And people were wailing. They were just…It was beyond what you could think about. And when I realized that it was terrible, I decided to pray together with my friends; I had learned to pray.


And now, something was interesting. I don’t know why it happened to me because it is not usual. Even some Christians will tell me and say, “No, why did you do that?!” But I decided, because there were Tutsis and Hutus, and they were looking for Tutsis to kill. So they entered every house, and every Rwandan had been given an ID, an identification card. It indicated the ethnic belonging, your ethnic belonging. So, if you are a Tutsi, you go to produce your ID, you show them, and if they read Tutsi, then they kill you immediately.


And I had an idea as well. Some of my friends, say, “No, we will just destroy the IDs and hide them, so that when they come, they won’t know who we are.” And I said, “I’m not going to lie.” I had learned from the Word of God that actually lying is a sin, and when you go to the book of Revelation, chapter 14, verse 4 and 5, the Bible says those who will be victorious are those who have had no lie found in their mouth. In the book of Psalms, 15, from verse 1 to 3, the Bible says, “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander.” And I had resolved in my heart, I said, “I’m not going to lie even if it means death.” And so I kept my ID, and I prayed. My friends and I prayed.


I remember, actually, it was a terrible situation because one Saturday morning, the militia, as we were praying…I invited people around my home, and they came to my house, and I took the Bible, and I took the book of Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, and I was reading the chapter entitled “The Time of Trouble.” And I was telling the people that in such a time of trouble, God is still in control, and He can protect their lives, and He still loves us, no matter what happens. And as I preached, I talked to them, right at the door, I saw the militia knocking, and they were coming in. They were armed with swords, with knives, with guns, and they knocked. They forced us to open. And as they came inside, they said, “Put your ID up,” and everyone raised their ID, except some did not have, and I put mine up. And as I put mine up, they looked at it. They said, “You are Tutsi,” and he called another group of militia; he said, “Get ready to kill.” Now, they were ready to kill.


Now, I had prayed, and I believed God was going to protect my life. As soon as I said that, I took my Bible. I was sitting, and I pointed it into his face. I said, “In that ID it is written “Tutsi,” but in my heart I am a citizen of Heaven.” And when he saw that, he was like, he was angry. He took my Bible. He threw it down. He trampled on it. Now, that wasn’t a good thing to me. Because initially when I had prayed, I thought God was going to fight for me. And now God was becoming weak. I waited for God to do something to this man; He didn’t do anything. I said, “God, now you are being despised in front of these killers. You are doing nothing to defend Your honor.” But, praise God, God is not like Phodidas. Amen? He doesn’t fight the way I fight.


And so, I kept praying, and the guy…but God was in charge. Even though he told them to get ready to kill me, they just raised their knives on top of my head, but no one dared to kill me. And they kept shouting and shouting and shouting until finally he actually said, “No, we are not going to kill you. We will call the policemen to come and be the ones to kill you.” Now, he was able to kill me, and the militia were there with their knives. Why did they not kill me? But when they decided to leave, one of the militiamen got angry with his knife. He struck me on my head twice, very sharp one, and I praise God it exactly happened in such a way that after a while I touched my head to just check if there was even blood. There was nothing. God was in charge.


And they went away, but it didn’t take long. (I’m trying to go through it very quickly.) They left the home, but very soon they were going to come back again because they resolved, they said, “Now, why did you not kill him? We have to go and kill him. After all, we have killed so many people.” They came back to the house. And I saw them coming from the fence. I saw them coming to the house. And I tried to escape backward. I jumped the fence from behind, and when I jumped, they had actually surrounded, other militia had surrounded the house with their knives. And when they saw me, they said, “You lie down, and we are going to kill you.” So I lay down right there in front of them as they were waiting for the chief militia to come and kill me. And he game with his gun, with the knife, and he laid it on my throat. He said, “I’m going to kill you right away.”


As soon as he laid it, the blade of his knife, and it was going to touch my throat, I still had my Bible, and I raised it again, and I pointed it to him. I said, “Don’t shed innocent blood.” Brethren, you might not know, if you have the Word of God, you are more powerful than thousands and thousands of soldiers. Amen? And this is a powerful weapon. And when I pointed it to him, he came like mad. He didn’t know what was happening. He raised it again and said, “So, you bragging of praying?” I said, “No, I don’t brag of praying.” But he kept shouting, and he couldn’t dare kill me, and he said, “Why are you running away, by the way? You go back to your house.”


And I went back; I walked back to the house. Amen? As soon as I…Now, it wasn’t easy because that was just the beginning. One of my church members, I told you I was a church elder. He came to me, having heard what happened to me, and he said, “Why are you still here. Let’s run away, go to another province. Let’s try to run for our lives.” And I told him, I said, his name was Vincent, I said, “Vincent, how can I run?” And he suggested that I tear my ID so that we can lie that I am Hutu. I said, “No, I can’t lie.” He said, “No! What are you saying?! You have to lie so that you can live.” I said, “My life is in the hands of God. I’m not going to lie.” And he said, “If you can’t lie, then let’s pray and go.” Amen.


And we prayed. Right after we said the prayer, we embarked, but Vincent was smart. He actually took my ID, he put it behind his because he was a Hutu. So he was a good person. He said, “No, if this man is not willing to hide himself, I will try to cover him.” He took my ID, put it under his, and we went through roadblocks. Now, roadblocks were everywhere, trying to stop people who ran, to kill them. And as I moved through them, Vincent was ahead of me, and at every roadblock, he showed the ID. They said, “Where is your ID?” He showed his, and then they said, when I reached the roadblocks, “Where is your ID?” I said, “That man has it.” And he came back; he showed his ID again, which was good.


So, that saved me just once, but very soon there was another Tutsi boy who was with us, and he was stopped. He had torn his ID, but he was arrested. They said, “No, you must be a Tutsi.” They decided to kill him, but Vincent was such a wonderful person. He said, “I’m not going to leave him. You try to go.” Now, I was going to go without Vincent, but I was with Jesus.


So I decided to move. I said a prayer, but ahead of us there were so many killings; people were being slaughtered. Every time people tried to run away, the whole city of Kigali. And what happened, actually, I went, I decided to say a prayer. I said, “Lord, now I have this ID; it is written ‘Tutsi.’ I’m going to ask You to close their eyes in the name of Jesus.” Every time I came across a roadblock, I said, “In the name of Jesus, close their eyes.” And interestingly it happened so, but for a number of times.


The first roadblock I came across to, I said, “In the name of Jesus, close their eyes,” and one guy said, “Where is you ID.” I gave it to him, and he was just holding it in his hands. He said, “Don’t you ride to these people who are fighting us.” There was another army fighting to come inside the country. I said, “I don’t.” He said, “You get your ID and leave.” And I went to another roadblock; I said, “Close their eyes in Jesus’ name.” And they could not read. I went to another one and a third and a fourth until finally, God, it’s as if God said, “No, how long are you going to be saying this prayer? It’s as if you are saying that because they haven’t seen, then they won’t kill you, but even if they see, as long as God is God, you can still live.”


Now, the next roadblock I had my ID in hand. I said, “In the name of Jesus, close their eyes,” but the guy who was right there, he said, “Where is your ID?” He got it. I said, “In the name of Jesus, close his eyes,” but he read and he said, but amazingly he said, “Are you Tutsi?” You disappear from here. You move from here quickly. Now, he became friendly, and he said, “You go away.” And as I started going away, just a few meters, he said, “By the way, come back here.” I will show you how to help you.” And there was another car coming just across; it was full of militia, killers with their knives. And he said, “These people are going to give you a ride.”


Now, he took me, and I wasn’t happy to get a ride with the killers because they could kill me, after all. And so he said, “You come inside here,” and the militia, when they looked at me, there’s a way, you know, sometimes they try to identify people by their faces, they looked at me; they said, “No, this man must be a Tutsi.” And they told him, “You are fighting yourself. Why are you…He has to take him. He said, “If you don’t take him, you cannot leave this place. You take him or you stay here also.” And he took me with the bag I had, and he took…I had a big radio. There was a big radio, a big one with two speakers, right, in those years, and I had put it on my head, and the books of prophesy of Ellen G. White. So I had tried to put it just to cover myself up so that I don’t attract the attention of the people.


And now I went into the cars of the militia, but it’s a long story. I just want to tell you that very soon I went across roadblocks again, and so many dead people are all over. I could see some of them were half killed. And I came across a place where God was going to show me another miracle. It was around about right in the city of Kigali. And I said the same prayer again. I said, “Lord, in the name of Jesus, close their eyes,” but this prayer was no longer working. God had changed.


I said, “In the name of Jesus, close their eyes,” but as soon as I said that prayer, the militia looked at my ID, and I expected, maybe if he reads, he’s going to behave like the former one, and God is going to just make him kind to me, but he was not kind. As soon as he read, he shouted. He said, “We found one! We found one! Come and kill him!” And every militia, the whole group, came to me. They were now ready to kill me.


And as soon as they came to me, I kept praying. I said, “Lord, You do something about this situation.” God showed me that He is still God even when they are not friendly to me because there was a man who was just killed. So many people were there, but there were some they had just killed. They said, “You go and lie beside that dead person, and we’ll come and kill you.” So I moved with my bag, and I went, but I didn’t lie down. I stood beside the dead person, and as I was standing beside him, I kept praying. I said, “Lord, in the name of Jesus, I believe You can do something.” I said, “I preached about You. I know You are a God who is able to do something about this situation.”


Now, so many people are dead, and they are busy killing other people. They are stopping other people, killing them. Somehow they forgot my presence, and they are busy. A man, when one of them noticed I was still standing there, and said, “You know what? That man is still alive. We have not killed him.” And another one said, “Okay, let me go ahead and finish him.” And he came running to me with his knife. As soon as he approached me, as soon as I saw him coming, I said the prayer. I said, “Lord, stop him in Jesus’ name.” And as soon as I closed my eyes to say a prayer, and after I said the prayer, I opened my eyes. The man was taking the opposite direction. He was going the opposite direction.


And some five to ten minutes passed again. And another person noticed I was still alive, and he said, “You know what? That boy is still alive. We have not killed him.” They were killing others, but they had forgot. And he said, “Oh, no! What is happening?! Let me go and finish him,” and he came running. And I said, “In the name of Jesus, stop him.” Right after I said the prayer, the guy was taking the opposite direction. And it happened a third time. I said the same prayer, but it looked like God said, “No, boy. How many times are they going to go back? Is it going to be an endless game?”


The fourth time, God did not stop him, even though I said the same prayer. I said, “In the name of Jesus, stop him.” He was very angry, charged, he was coming towards me. And I opened my eyes. He was just still coming, running. I prayed, “Lord, stop him in Jesus’ name.” And right here he was, now with his knife, right before me, but he could not stab me. He was just looking at my face and said, “By the way, what kind of person are you?”


Now, I understood that God had clothed me with a different image, and I was totally different because I just gave him a very stupid answer. I said, “I am a man of God,” but what could that mean, because they were killing people even though they knew they were Christians that were being killed. But I told him, I said, “I am a man of God.” But when I said that, he probably got a different answer, and he said, “Are you a man of God?” I said, “Yes.” “If you are a man of God, let me go and ask your ID and give it to you so that you will live.” I didn’t need that ID, of course. And the man went back.


He was negotiating with the killers, and he was asking them. I saw him trying to bargain, but they actually refused, and then he came back. He said, “No, they can’t give me the ID. They are determined to kill you.” And he said, “Do you have some money so that we can bribe them?” I said, “I don’t have any money.” In fact, one of my friends had tried to bribe them, but they refused; they were about to kill him. He was a Hutu, and he ran away.


So, he came back later on. He said, “Nothing! You have nothing?!” I said, “I have only this radio.” He said, “They can’t take it.” And I kept praying, and as soon as I finished another prayer, there was a chief of militia who was just sitting across the road, and he shouted. He said, “Tell that boy to come to me.” And I went there. He was as if he was going to kill me, so when I saw him with a knife, I just stood at a distance, and he just looked at me. He was talking to another person, and the militiaman who was telling me to negotiate my ID came back to me. He was very angry at me. He said, “Did you say you were a man of God?” I said, “Yes.” “If you are a man of God, why don’t you go and claim your ID and go?” Then I said, “This is unusual. How can a killer know that you have authority if you are a man of God?” I said, “This must be an angel from Heaven,” so I decided to go.


I moved, I went some steps. I said, “In Jesus’ name, I’m going to claim my ID,” right, like, three or four steps. The militiaman who had called me, he shouted. He said, “Give him his ID and let him go.” He had not even heard the conversation that was going on between me and the killer. And they gave me the ID. They were saying, “What did you give him?” “What happened?” “How can he let you go?” And they were all amazed, and I went down the road praising the Lord. Amen?


And as I went down, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t have time right now, but allow me to tell you that actually ahead of me, you know, there were so many, maybe hundreds of instances, where God showed Himself as a God because there was a man just across, down, who was the most terrible person. This wasn’t a movie. He was a man full of blood, half naked, the upper part, he had no clothes on him. And he had a hammer; on the other side of the hammer was actually an axe.


Now, the road had been blocked. Militia people were stopping everyone. They were directing them to the killer, and by the way, Hutus and Tutsis alike, all of them were stopped towards that man. He was the one to charge if you had to die or to live. And interestingly, he could not even read sometimes, he just looked at you, and then he struck with the hammer or with the axe. And I was held by the collar of my shirt, and I was directed to the man. Now, it was in a confusion; so many people were being killed. I saw the truck full of dead people. Prisoners had been released, and they were being put into the truck. And when I saw this militiaman striking people, people were being killed before me. And I was just moving a few meters towards him. I realized that he had no mercy.


Now this time I changed the prayer. I said, “Lord, this man has no mercy in him. If he gets angry, get angry on my behalf.” And as soon as I said that prayer, right after I said the prayer, I felt…Remember, there was a hand pulling me towards the killer. And I felt another hand behind me pulling me back. Now I was between two hands, one of the militia pulling me towards the killer. Other people were passing me now. And I was just standing. I tried to turn, and the man behind me said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to show my ID to the killer.” He said, “Don’t go. You go back.” And the militiaman who was pulling me, he said, “No, let him go and show the ID.”


Now there was a battle between them, one trying to save me, the other one…Our God is amazing. Finally, the one behind me convinced him; he said, “No, there is a car here, which is going to give him a ride to another province. Let him go back, and he will still come back this way anyway.” And finally he said, “Okay, let him go back,” and I was saved that way.


But, just the last part of my testimony; I’m trying to go through it. I finally managed to cross the city, but I had to stay in the bush for about 34 days, 34 days, but allow me, brethren, to assure you that, whether you are in the bush or in a dungeon or in a grave or wherever you are, if you are with God, that can be a palace for you, and you will have no problem. Amen? I was in a bush. It was a terrible situation. And for several days…There was a family of another friend who was very faithful to God. He tried to save my life several times. One time he even gave me some money. He said, “You take this money. You will go hiding. I can’t hide you in my house. If I try, they will discover you. If I put you in the ceiling, they will destroy the ceiling and find you. They will kill you, and they will kill my family. So you go and die.” He sent me to a place where he knew killers had guns, and they were going to shoot at me.


They said, “You will die a better death.” And so he prayed for me, and he sent me away, but it was not possible. After trying to run away again, I came back to his house, and then he finally said, “I know only one bush where I can take you, and maybe God is going to protect you.” He was desperate, this gentleman. He took me to a bush, and I was in a bush. I prayed the whole night. I said, “Lord, surround this bush with your holy angels,” and God is able. Why did He do that to me? He only did this so that I can assure you that God still answers prayers. And I said, “Lord, surround this bush with your angels,” and God did, because the next morning, I had entered the bush at nighttime; I thought it was very thick, and no one was going to see me. And when the morning came, oh, it was very clear—anyone could see me.


So, finally I heard the noise of a dog, hunting dogs, with the bells, and people behind the dogs were shouting. They were hunting for Tutsis to kill. And when I removed the thing I was covering myself with, I saw a dog coming. It was barking. I tried to threaten the dog, but the dog was not threatened at all. It kept barking, and he came back to me. And the killers said, “Oh, we found one! We found one! Come out of the bush!”


So they asked me to come out of the bush, and I came out of the bush. I was holding my Bible. Amen? And as I went to them, God gave me the courage, because I knew my life was in the hands of God. I went; I had to shake the hand of the killers. I went to shake the hand of one of the killers, but he was scared. He tried to run, and I went to the other one. He shook my hand, but very quickly he withdrew his hand, and then they said, “No, you look strong, so we are not going to kill you. We will let you dig your grave before we kill you. We can’t get tired just because of you. You come and dig your grave.” That was a rural area. They took me to a place, and when I arrived at that place, they said, “This is the place. You dig the grave.”


So, I took the hoe; I started digging, but I knew God was in charge. Now, I told God, I said, “Lord, here I am digging my grave. I know You are in control. If You are the God I talked about, if You are the Creator of the universe…I had started preaching when I was young. I told the people about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I told them about Daniel in the lions’ den. Did I lie to people? If I have told them the truth, show me that You are still the same God. Show me that You have not changed,” and God proved to me that He is still in charge.


Now, just as we do, I was praying, but I’m digging at the same time. And militiamen have surrounded me. And as I dug, I prayed, and I said, “Lord, the grave is going to be finished. You are doing nothing. Why are You allowing…,” and I said maybe God…I suggested what God could do; I said, “God you can give me wings, and I will fly away.” But there were no wings. I waited for wings for a while. I said, “Lord, if there are no wings, You can bring about fire, and all of us are going to be scattered and run,” but there was no fire.


At the time, I prayed, “Maybe You can bring about thunder,” as if I was thinking God has no means, but God has thousands of ways to protect our lives and to intervene when this becomes necessary. So I kept praying, but God had already answered my prayer because my Bible, as you can see, is actually highlighted with colors. Sometimes I have bought a Bible, every time I buy a new one, I will sit down and highlight the old verses again. Those I have read before. So, my Bible is entirely highlighted, all my favorite verses. And one of the killers was just sitting on the top of the grave, and the was just opening the Book just for fun. And as he opened, he could see some colors, and then he said, “Hey, why are these colors in this Book?” And I said, “These are my favorite verses.” He said, “Really?” And he kept opening. And he said, “Oh, you mean you have read all this?” I said, “Yes.”


Now, interestingly he started now reading…He paused. Every time he came across a color, he read, and as he was reading, the Holy Spirit of God was working. Amen? And as he kept reading, he read and read, and then later on he said, “I want to beg your pardon, please. Would you like to give me this Book before you die?” Now the Holy Spirit…He said, “Would you like to give me this Book before you die?” I said, “Yes, go ahead and get it.” I reasoned that, after all, there was not going be a time for me to claim the Book because I was going to fly.


And so, right after I said that, the other militia, they shouted, they said, “No! We can’t give you the Book! It doesn’t belong to him anymore because we are going to kill him. It is our Book. If you need it, you will pay money.” And he said, “No matter how much you need, I will pay that money, but I will take this Book.”


Ladies and gentlemen, that told me that actually the Holy Spirit can touch anybody. Maybe there is somebody you consider, maybe in your family or elsewhere, you think, “He can never be touched,” but God is so powerful. Amen? He can convert everybody’s heart. This is one of the killers. And, finally, I kept digging, but the man who was converted, he was now on my side. He said, “Hey, listen to me.” He talked to the militia. He said, “I know you will kill this boy, but please allow me to help him. I know you will kill him. Allow me to dig his grave.”  And he was now offering to dig my grave. That wasn’t a favor to me because he was going to finish the grave very soon. So, he jumped into there. They said, “Go ahead. He’s delaying us anyway.” They said, “Go ahead,” and he jumped into the grave. He was very strong, and I kept, I said, “Lord, the grave is finishing. What You doing about this? This man is so strong.”


And God was still in charge because He knew that even if the grave is finished, it means nothing to God. Amen? Even if the Red Sea is right there, it can become just a dry path. Amen? Even if the fire is there; God is not threatened by the fire. But I was threatened, and I kept praying.


And immediately, as soon as the grave finished, God had changed the mind of their leader. Their leader shouted; he said, “Hey! Why are we inviting this person into our field? This is our property. Why are we inviting him here?” Let him go and dig another grave on the other highway. And he suggested and said, “After all, there is someone else we have just killed,” and that somebody was the brother-in-law of one of the killers. So, they were very bad, even their own brother’s-in-law, even their own spouses, they were killing them. And so he said, “We’ll bury the brother-in-law in this grave. Let this boy go and dig another grave.” And so, he sent me. The grave was refused to me, but God was giving me a chance to do something.


You know, what happened changed the whole story because as soon as they were about to bury him, one of them ironically said, “Why don’t we pray for these people we are killing.” Obviously they were Roman Catholics, and I heard that. I said, “Praying for the people you have killed?” And one of them said, “Yeah, go ahead and pray.” And one of them said, “Mary, mother of Jesus, we save him.” I felt like I was troubled. I forgot about my agony, and my fear just…I said, “Lord, maybe these people are killing others because they have not known You.” And I felt that I was partly responsible for their evil. I said, “Had Adventists done their job, God would have been glorified. And maybe there are people who have not given their lives to Jesus, who are involved in drugs, who are even killers out there because you have done nothing so far. Had you done something, maybe there would have been conversion.”


And I said, “Lord, I was praying for wings. Now I pray that You don’t allow me to go from this place until I have told them who You are.” And when we reached the highway, I was determined to preach, but I didn’t know how, and so I was going to dig another grave. So, one of the killers who had my Bible, I went to him. I said, “Can you give me this Book so that I can say a word before I dig another grave?” And the killer, he was now my savior. He said, “Yes, go ahead,” and he gave me the book.


Now, there was a nother militiaman who was closer to him. He said, “No, he can’t talk to us. What is he going to share with us? He is our enemy; we will kill him.” And the militiaman who was on my side said, “No, we can kill him, but we have no right to refuse him to talk.” And I wondered what kind of right he was talking about anyway. They have the right to kill me but no right…? That was the Holy Spirit. Amen? Because He can talk. In other words, we can’t hinder the Word of God. Amen?!


So, finally, there was an argument, then they were angry. And as other militia saw that, they also came and said, “What are you shouting about?” They said, “He wants him to speak to us with the Bible.” And another said, “I don’t want,” and now they were dividing into two, one group saying, “Let him talk; we want to hear,” and another group saying, “He has nothing to share with us.” And another group said, “No, after all, you don’t know what he’s going to say. Let him talk.”


And now they were about to fight with their knives, saying, “He cannot talk! He cannot...” And, finally, one of the militia who seemed to be their leader came over. He said, “Hey! Stop it! Why are you going to kill each other because of this stranger? Let me advise you now. Those of you who don’t want him to talk, you sit down and shut your ears. And those of you who want [him] to talk, you sit on that side, and you will open your ears and listen, and after that, we’ll kill him.”


Now, it was interesting that no one actually closed their ears. Amen? All of them listened intently, even the very killers who did not want me to talk, they sat down. There were about 40 of them. And I opened the Bible, and I preached. I can’t repeat the sermon I preached, but you and go ahead and read 1 Peter, chapter 2, from verse 9, which says that we are a chosen generation. Amen? A people belonging to God, and I told them, “No, I’m not begging for you to let me go because I believe, even if you kill me, a time is going to come when I will come back to life, and Jesus is coming soon.”


And I told them, “There are people you are killing, you think they are Tutsis, but there are people who are no longer Tutsis, no longer Hutus, because they are the children of God.” Now, after I preached, I finished preaching, I talked about Ecclesiastes, chapter 9, where it says the living know they will die, but the dead know nothing, “So let the people pray for themselves before you kill them.” And as I was preaching, I came to preach in the same power. It wasn’t me speaking; it was God at such a critical moment. But as I spoke, I saw some of them. They were weeping, wiping off their tears. And I saw some of them standing up. They were dragging each other, trying to talk each other as if they were convincing one another. And when I finished preaching, I was convinced that God was going to work out a miracle.


I said, “Lord, now I’m going to say the closing prayer after I finish another grave,” but they didn’t allow me to finish even that sentence. When they heard me, one of them said, “Hey! We can’t kill this person. I was thinking we will kill him in a very bad way, but I’m no longer with you. If you kill him, let his blood be upon you.” And everybody in the group shouted now. The whole village had gathered, everybody. They said, “No, no, no no, no! Let that person go. We can’t kill him.” Everybody shouted, and children and women and elderly people, all of them were shouting. And then their chief said, “You want us to let him go? Are you sure you want us to let him go?” And they said, “Yes! Let him go!” And, finally, he said, “Now, if you tell anybody that we have released the Tutsi, they will come and kill us.” Now, it was risky for them. “The government will come and kill us, but we will kill you before they kill us if you tell anyone.”


Everybody shouted and said, “No, we won’t tell anyone. Please let him go!” And I said, “Are you willing to allow me to say a prayer for you?” They said, “Go ahead and pray for us,” and I said a prayer. I said, “Lord, I know you are so merciful, gracious. There is no sin You can’t forgive. Please help these people understand that the battle they are fighting is not theirs. It has nothing to do with ethnic belonging. It is the devil’s battle. Help them to understand that this is the Great Controversy going on.” And as I prayed, “Lord, forgive their sins. Please allow them to repent fully.” And as I finished saying that prayer, they gave me two militiamen. They said, “Now, we don’t want you to go back to the bush. You go to our house. We’ll hide you. We will go out to kill other people, but we can hide you.” They gave me two militiamen.


The militiamen took me to their house, and they brought some food, but interestingly they brought some meat for me to eat. Now, I was vegetarian. I had decided that I was not going to change any of my principles just because it was wartime. And so I said, “I am vegetarian, and I don’t eat meat.” And the killer said, “So, Adventists don’t eat meat?” I said, “Some do, but I don’t.” He said, “Don’t worry. I’m going to get some vegetables for you.” Amen? And he went to his garden. He brought some beans, fresh beans, and he cooked for me. There is a food we call ugali back in Africa, so he gave me some ugali. And I ate, and he was saying, “Don’t worry. You just stay here. We’ll go and do harm to others, but we’re not going to kill you, even if it means digging a hole and hiding you there, we’ll do that.”


Ladies and gentlemen, there is a God in Heaven. God is in charge. I’m just going to take, like, five minutes. Let me tell you, it was not over, and I cannot finish the story, but after just two days, I had to go back to the bush because the story spread all over. Unfortunately, some of the militiamen told. There was no way to hide that, so they talked about it, and other killers knew I was hiding there. And around 11 a.m., the killer who was hiding me came running. He said, “You go out of my house!” I said, “Why?” “They are coming to kill me!” I said, “No. Please let me stay here because if I go out, they will find me and kill me.” He said, “No! You go out there. They are coming to kill me because I’m hiding you.” And I said, “Why don’t you let me go out when it is dark in the night?” He said, “No. Listen, you have a God. I have no God. Please go out of my house. Your God is going to protect you.” Hallelujah! Our God is great, and he recognized that I have a God.


If you have given your life to Jesus, you are not anybody. And, ladies and gentlemen, I went back to the bush, and I went back to the house of my friend. When they saw me, they took me to the bush again. And in the bush, now a time came when I was sure that God was going to protect my life, but I was tired, exhausted after, actually, three weeks, and my skin was like a dry leaf. And I was wondering. I said, “Lord, what is happening? Why, if I believe in You, and if You protected my life, why should I suffer this much? I’m dying. I can feel it; I’m dying. Why am I in this bush?” It is raining; it was very cold weather. And even when it is not raining, I stay in the bush, and it keeps dripping as if it is raining. So, I prayed; I said, “Lord, let me go out of this bush,” and when I realized that nothing was happening, I was discouraged until my friend who knew where I was, he came and he encouraged me. You need to encourage those who are in trouble. Maybe you have people who are suffering around you. I needed just him because I was desperate. Even though God had worked out a miracle, I was, like, I’m going to face the killers again because it’s too much on me. I’m dying. And my friend came in the nighttime.


But there was another story because he was very scared. When I saw him, there was something that was going on in his family. Now, the militia in the area had said, “No, we are not going to hunt for people anymore. We have killed everyone. Thousands had been killed. If there was anyone hiding, that means there is somebody hiding him. If we find him, that means we will know who is hiding him, and we will kill the entire family.” It was a terrible trying moment. And so my friend, his family told him to take me out of that bush because it was their property. And he begged with them. He said, “No, let him be there. God is going to protect him.” But the mother said, “No. They are going to kill my entire family. My children are going to die. After all, he will die. Until then, he’s going to hide anyway. So, please take him out of our property.”


And the mother I could understand. She was agonizing. And, finally, they had a family meeting, and they convinced the boy that he had to take me away, out of the bush. He begged that they give him one week to find another place to hide me. And my friend, that evening when he came to me, I was discouraged, but again I was even more discouraged because he told me, he said, “You know what?” I saw him very sad. His name was Celestin. I said, “Celestin, why are you sad?” He could not talk. “Why?!” When I looked into his eyes, something terrible was about to happen. And he said, “This bush is not yours anymore.”


I said, “What do you mean it’s not mine?” He said, “It’s not yours because my family is saying you go out of this bush, and I don’t know where to put you.” Now I felt like it was over, and I looked into his eyes and said, “Celestin, are you also ready to abandon me?” And he said something you will probably not hear from many Christians, and I will always recognize that even though there are atrocities in Rwanda, people of God were there as well because Celestin, he told me, “Even if it means to die, I will die with you. I will never give up on you. I will be with you. I will find another place, and I’m not going to let you go.”


And I told him, I said, “Celestin, now that they have given you one week, let’s kneel down and give this week to God because God has a solution.” And we knelt down, and I told him, “I’m going to fast for a week, and, in fact, I don’t need to fast because I have no food in the bush. You also go home and fast and pray for the entire week and let us ask God to give us a solution.” Now, ladies and gentlemen, there is power in prayer. I decided to pray, and before I prayed, and before I read the Bible in that bush…I was reading the Bible, a chapter in the Bible, and as soon as I finished the chapter, I knelt down to pray again. Amen? And after I finished praying, I read the Bible again. For a whole week I was just doing that until darkness in the bush came.


And a time came, I even forgot about my tiredness. Amen? I felt I was not even mindful about my death, and I was only worried about my sins, and I repented. But I asked God, I said, “Lord, at the end of this week, show me that You are God. Maybe I don’t have the faith I need. You can give me that faith and show me You are the God I preached about.”


Now, it was on Friday evening, actually, we started to pray on Saturday, so I expected God to answer by Saturday evening, but Friday evening I thought it was the end. When my friend came, he said, “No, it was not the end.” I kept praying. Friday evening, exactly the time I started praying, I told God, I said, “I don’t see anything in the sky. I didn’t hear anything happening, but I believe You have answered the prayer because I prayed that You will answer, and I asked You to give me faith as well.” And so I said, “Lord, this is enough. I’m no longer going to stay in the bush; I’m going out of the bush.”


And I held my Bible, and I went towards the nearest home. And as soon as I arrived, I could not go into the house, but I saw somebody coming. He had an umbrella; it was raining. And as he knocked at the door, they opened the door for him, and immediately I recognized him. He was the father of my friend. And the father of my friend, when he looked…I ran to him, and then I said, “Father, are you there?” He said, “Son, are you still alive? Your God has answered your prayer.” He knew my friend was praying. He said, “You know what? None of us in this entire village is in this place. We have all run away. Only your friend is at home. He decided not to run away with the killers. You go and join him and continue your prayer.” And I praised the Lord. Amen? And I went towards my friend.


How I wish I had time. I think I have to end because the story is long. Anyway, you will read the book. I have to finish. Or you will invite me in your churches, if you want. But ladies and gentlemen, there is a God in Heaven.


It was not the end because God had protected my life. Now a time was coming when He had to protect my heart because I was saved from the bush, but my entire family had been killed. We were like 34, my siblings, my nieces, my nephews, they had all been killed apart from a sister who was in another country. And I had to struggle now when I heard about this, and to make it worse, I had to continue preaching or get discouraged. But God was still in charge. And there was something very pertinent, because one of the things I had to do, I had to go to my home village and preach. And in my home village, there was literally no one. Everybody had been killed. The houses had been destroyed, and you couldn’t even know until, actually, finally, you know, I had promised to God that if He gives me a job, I will go to my home village and organize an evangelistic campaign and give my whole salary, buy literature, distribute to the people and preach the gospel.


And now I got my salary, and I had to go and fulfill the promise, but preaching to the village which had killed my family, how was I going to do that? And I struggled. I said, “Lord, You want me to go there? Is this really what You want?” I said, “No! When I made this promise, my family was still there. How can I go there and preach?” And God said, “You go. You will go and preach.” I kept praying, and God said, “You go.” One day I took my salary, I bought Bibles and books of Ellen G. White, and I stayed and I packed. It was not easy. I had to go and face the killers of my family.


In the end, I had to go because there was no other way out. You know what? Rwanda. Jeremiah said it; he was right. A burden he was carrying, but this gospel, God is so great. Amen? So, after kneeling down, I packed, and I went, and I started preaching sometime. When I started, I saw only women and children coming, and later on I saw even their husbands, they were telling each other. A group, now, we were outside in an open area. It was a big congregation. Actually, I preached, like, just one week, and 120 people were baptized. I remember handing a Bible to the killer, the one who killed my sister, and I told him, “If you repent from your sin, I believe we will meet in Heaven.” Ladies and gentlemen, there is a God in Heaven.


I just have to finish. There are lessons I learned. God is in control. God is in charge. I don’t know what is happening in your life; God is still in the business of answering prayers. He is in charge; you just need to trust in Him. Amen?


There’s another lesson. What happened in Rwanda can happen anywhere. It can happen in this nation. It can happen in other nations. There is no one who is out of the reach of the devil. In fact, when you go to Rwanda, you will be amazed because, if you have wonderful people out there in the world, they are Rwandese. They are nice people, and they were good Christians, people who pray, and even today they are still praying. But that was a trying moment. People had to stand on the side of the devil or on the side of God, and if that happens today here, you will be amazed to see those whom you think that were Christians siding on the side of the devil.


And so, ladies and gentlemen, the time to be ready, it’s actually not when the trying moment has come, when the genocide has started. That wasn’t the time to say, “Yes, I am on the side of Jesus.” No. That was the time to stand exactly where you are. And so, today, have you given your life to Jesus? If such a moment comes to you, maybe in a different form, maybe not necessarily genocide. Let it not happen anywhere else in the world. But if such a time comes to you, and we know as Adventists that such a time is coming, let me ask you a question, ladies and gentlemen: Have you totally given your life to Jesus? If you haven’t, you will be amazed. A time is coming when actually you may find yourself on a side you have never thought of.


Let me stand up here; I want to pray for somebody. I would like to pray for someone. Maybe you want to re-commit your life to Jesus and say, “Lord, I want to fully belong to You. I know there is this part of me. I don’t know what exactly, but I don’t feel I have surrendered to You. I want to give my life to Jesus.” If you are there, please, and you say from the bottom of your heart and you are saying, “Lord, I want to re-commit my life. I want to give my life to You.” I want you to stand up, and I want to say a prayer for you. God bless you.


But I will ask another question. Please allow me to say this. I believe this is not a coincidence. I want to say a prayer for you. If you realize that your life is not in Jesus, in a special way you fee like, “Lord, I want to come to You, and I want to be transformed. I’m not showing this to anyone, but I want to be prayed for. Lord, I re-commit my life in a special way,” I want you to move forward. Maybe you will just come here in the aisle, and I want to say a prayer. Please come forward, and we will say a prayer together. Thank you so much. God bless you. There is a God in Heaven. There is a God in Heaven. God is in charge.


I’m going to kneel before the Lord, and I request anyone who feels like kneeling, please kneel with me, and we’ll pray. Lord in Heaven, the Creator of the universe, we know that You are the only God, and there’s no one else like You. And we believe You are in charge, Father. I want to thank You in the presence of this assembly of Your people that You showed to me, when I called You and asked You to show me that You have not changed, in multiple times, several times, You showed me that You are a God. And so, Father, this is just so I have done right in a few minutes, that telling these people that You are a God who never changes, a God who is in charge, who is only waiting for us to pray and commit ourselves unto You, I want to thank You, Father. May Your name be glorified. At this moment, I want to show You there are people who are kneeling before Your presence, old people, everyone, children, others, I want to pray, Lord, that just as they humbled themselves before You, that You stretch Your hand, Lord, and touch them and let them be able to feel Your hand and feel Your forgiveness. Let the devil be defeated in the name of Jesus.


Lord, I pray that You will surround them by Your hands and let them be able to go away from this place transformed forever. I know the time is short, and You are coming soon. I pray, Father, that none of these people who kneel before You will backslide; they will always move forward and follow the footsteps of Jesus. Lord, I pray that they will be ready to witness about You, whenever You want them to do that. I pray that they will be able to minster unto others, that they will always show that they belong to You, and they have chosen this way. Lord, I pray for those of us who have sinned against You. I don’t know what is going on in the life of each and every one of us, but if there is any sin, Father, that we have cherished for long, may it be forgiven in the name of Jesus. Lord, I pray that You continue to bless this program, and I pray this in the name of Jesus.


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