Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award


Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Russell L. Staples

Second Advisor

Jerry Moon

Third Advisor

Newton W. Hoilette


Statement of the Task

In 1994, the central Africa nation of Rwanda experienced a large-scale genocide in which thousands of people were killed. Many Christians including Adventists participated in these mass killings. It is the task of this study to investigate (1) the historical causes of the genocide, (2) why Seventh-day Adventist Christians participated in the genocide, and (3) propose strategies for forgiveness and reconciliation from an Adventist perspective.


The study is an historical and analytical investigation of the country and people of Rwanda from precolonial to post-independence time. It draws on the personal experience and direct interviews of 94 church leaders and members of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Rwanda. The research has drawn on books and journals from libraries in the United States and overseas.


The study reveals that prominent among the complex factors that led to the 1944 genocide in Rwanda were first, the promotion of Tutsi superiority over Hutus by some missionaries, colonialists, anthropologists, and historians; and second, that in spite of the phenominal growth of the church in Rwanda or perhaps partly because of it, there was a failure to effectively teach and practice the oneness of human beings in Christ.


First, in spite of all the good accomplished by church leaders in Rwanda, they failed to effectively teach the doctrine of unconditional love among the people. Second, there is a need for forgiveness and reconciliation among the people of Rwanda, who remain divided in the aftermath of the genocide of 1994. Third, the biblical and theological foundations of forgiveness and reconciliation are explored and developed in practical strategies, appropriate to the circumstances in Rwanda, for breaking down divisions and building a spirit of mutuality and community within the churches and subsequently also in the wider community. The Adventist Church is an instrument of hope for the people of Rwanda. It needs to lead in showing the way to unity through confession, forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal in Christ. The Church should promote this process through literature, public media, and the educational system.

Subject Area

Genocide--Rwanda--Religious aspects; Forgiveness--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Seventh-day Adventists--Rwanda; Rwanda--History--Civil War, 1994; Rwanda--Church history; Rwanda--Politics and government

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.


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