Written by Sarah Harrington, first published in Hope Notes Is 30
Picture this: You’re at home, settling in with popcorn and the latest binge-worthy Netflix show, when you hear shouting through the wall. This isn’t the first time you’ve heard your neighbours argue, so you turn up the volume and make a note to avoid eye contact when you pass them on the sidewalk.
Conflict touches all of our lives, whether we’re the avoidant neighbour, the child listening to parents argue, or the spouses caught in a toxic cycle of disagreement. Maybe we’ve grown used to a world of unhealthy conflict, but isn’t there some way to address this brokenness?
Well, we might have something to learn from communities in Rwanda about reconciliation.
If you met Evalde and Rosette from Busekera today, you’d be struck by how well this husband and wife get along. They support each other fully and split the work of raising their beautiful family. You’d certainly have no idea they were once the couple that neighbours heard arguing.
“I was raised in a family of five children and I was the only boy. Everything was done by my sisters and I was treated like a king,” admits Evalde. “After marriage, I didn’t change my attitude. I thought everything should be done by my wife.”
Evalde’s attitude led to serious conflict. While he spent his days at the local pub, Rosette worked to the bone trying to provide for their children. When he returned home, they argued about money. It wasn’t a healthy situation for them or their three children.
But this began to change when Evalde and Rosette attended a Savings and Loans group meeting and heard a leader speak about reconciliation. Evalde felt the message strike him. It took courage, but Evalde and Rosette humbled themselves and asked the leader for help.
Enter Magnifique, a community leader trained in conflict resolution by Food for the Hungry (FH).
In Rwanda, many student dropouts come from families experiencing conflict. These children don’t see healthy role models at home, and are also deprived of the support system at school. This can have dire consequences for their futures.
Magnifique knew that, for the sake of Evalde and Rosette and their children, it was time to use his Food for the Hungry training.
During the workshops with FH, Magnifique worked through a biblical model of conflict resolution. In simple terms: repent, forgive, and repair. For Evalde and Rosette, that structure looked something like this.
Repent. During home sessions with Magnifique, Evalde had a change of heart and realized his attitude toward women needed work. For his family to be healthy, he couldn’t keep shirking his responsibility as a husband and father. Forgive. After seeing her husband’s changing mindset, Rosette came alongside Evalde to find a new form of communication other than arguing. Repair. Evalde and Rosette worked with Magnifique to determine a healthy way to work through their issues. Now, they take equal responsibility for their family, supporting each other through the hardships and the successes.
|Rosette and Evalde had the vulnerability to share their struggles with others, the courage to forgive, and the grace to change.
Reconciliation doesn’t happen overnight, but Evalde and Rosette are committed to this path. They regularly participate in meetings with their savings group and are even acting as a model for how to overcome conflict within families.
This new peace between their parents has been an amazing thing for their kids, who now have a healthy and nurturing home environment. “My children used to be afraid of me,” Evalde explained. “But today, we’re friends.”
Conflict touches all of our lives—but so can reconciliation. We just have to be willing to work at it. The next time you pass by a neighbour who is struggling, don’t avoid eye contact. Instead, remember Magnifique, who stepped in to help a family in need. When you’re stuck in an argument going in circles, consider Evalde, who humbled himself. And when you’re faced with someone who is admitting they’re wrong, think about Rosette, who had the courage to forgive.
Reconciliation to Others:
FH Canada believes that poverty isn’t just a lack of material things. Poverty is about broken relationships with God, self, others, and creation—and it affects all of us! To learn more about reconciling a broken relationship with a neighbour, friend, or family member, visit fhcanada.org/Education.