From Victim to Victor

2016-06-02
“Nancy Costa, wife of Escrito Está Speaker/Director, Robert Costa, recently returned from Rwanda where she conducted a series of evangelistic meetings and witnessed God work miracles of divine grace. You’ll be inspired as you read about how God worked in amazing ways during Nancy’s meetings.”
– John Bradshaw”

About a week into the meetings, my translator pointed to a tall suited man sitting on the first row and said, “See that man there? He’s been coming every night since the meetings began. He has not been back to church since the genocide.”

The translator told me that this man was the son of a district pastor who was killed in 1994, along with his wife and daughter, in a house right across the street from the church where we conducted a baptism service. The sons of another pastor stormed the house and killed them all.

When the pastor heard the attackers coming, he and his wife and daughter knelt down to pray. They were killed as they prayed and their house set on fire. This man who was attending my meetings every night was their son. He had seen the commotion when he was at the top of the hill, but by the time he got there, his parents were dead and the house was on fire.

The perpetrators had taken the new car the pastor had just bought. During the genocide, Hutus were encouraged to kill by being told they could take the possessions and property of those they killed.

This man, the son, was so distraught after the murder of his family that he’d never returned to church and said that his own brethren had betrayed him. Many Hutus defended Tutsi people during the genocide. Most church members condemned this act, but the man had refused to set foot inside a church and had even gone a little mad, shooting at any church member who ventured near his house (always missing, thankfully).

So when our meetings started, it was the first time he’d attended a church gathering. I think God uses anything He has, and I believe the initial reason he came was that I was an outsider, neither a Hutu or a Tutsi. He was willing to listen and the Lord was working on his heart.

The final day of the meetings he again was on the front row, and I felt compelled to say something about forgiveness. I was afraid to and struggled because we had been told not to address the genocide, but I couldn’t let it go. My translator told me to be very careful not to show that I was taking sides or favoring one side, because both sides still have issues.

So even though I was shaking in my boots (shoes), I said I wanted to say a few words about forgiveness, because there seems to be a misconception about what that means. When God forgives us, it’s a gift He gives us. He cleanses us and gives us eternal life. But when we forgive others, it’s a gift we give to ourselves. It is not dependent on the merits or worthiness of the offender. Forgiveness is for the victim because they deserve to be free from the burden they are carrying.

I shared a few more thoughts and read the text where Jesus says, “Come to me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Then I went right into the subject on heaven, which was the regularly scheduled program. At the end, I thought I would make one last call. Every night we’d been making calls for Jesus and for baptism, and I thought by now there was nobody left to come forward. But when I made the call for anyone who had yet not made a decision, three men came forward and I shook their hands. I then said that I didn’t want to stretch the call because it was already late in the day, but if there was anyone else, to please come forward.

This man jumped out of his seat and came to the front. I went to shake his hand, but he just grabbed me and gave me a huge embrace and then started shaking my hand with both of his and wouldn’t let go. There was so much joy and enthusiasm in his face but he was talking to me in his local language and I couldn’t understand anything. My translator was trying to translate, but he wouldn’t wait and kept talking!

The crowd was feeling the emotion of this moment and they were smiling and waving their hands and saying “Amen!” Then this man asked for the microphone and said he wanted to give his testimony. He said, “I am back, I want to tell all of you that I am coming back to the church. Many of you know my story, but today I’m coming back to Jesus and to you.”

Everyone cheered and it was just so glorious and the spirit that flowed through the congregation was so incredible I can’t describe it. There was a feeling of real celebration.

That incident moved me very much, and I realize experiences like this have multiplied a hundred fold these last two weeks in Rwanda. God not only did great things for this dear man, but He also did great things for me. I was the most blessed of all.

Nancy Costa

– Nancy spent 14 years as an employee of It Is Written and she continues to assist the ministry with various projects. We are blessed to have her as part of our team!

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