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224 pages
Jan 2008

Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned

by Peter Holmes

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In response to the vicious 1994 Rwandan genocide, Emmanuel M. Kolini, Archbishop of Rwanda, and Peter R. Holmes, Ph.D., offer Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned as a plea and plan to help still devastated Rwanda fully recover. Writing fourteen years after the event, the authors perceive bottled-up anger, fear, trauma, and racial hatred lingering in the genocide’s survivors. Emmanuel and Holmes believe Rwanda can be healed with the help of doctors, individuals and organizations worldwide, and Rwandans themselves.

The authors’ plan would begin with psychologists and missionaries meeting with individual Rwandans and allowing them to divulge their problems. These Rwandans would then take the knowledge they gain through their own healing and lead therapeutic groups within their communities. These groups would be designed to allow the members verbally to unload and discuss their problems.

Emmanuel and Holmes make a case for their proposed system in the first section of the book by giving background information on the Rwandese people, their culture, and what actually occurred during the 1959 and 1994 genocides. The authors cover this ground repeatedly. The middle portion discusses the consequences of the genocide, and the last section describes the authors’ plan of action. Each chapter ends with discussion questions appropriate for a small group. Kolini and Holmes’ plans and insights are highly flavored by their backgrounds in Anglican church leadership and Christian service with a doctorate in therapeutic faith community, respectively.

The authors have a basic assumption that the trauma, pain, and depression that the Rwandans suffer create a psychological illness that should be treated by doctors. Kolini and Holmes attribute attitude and worldview problems prevalent among the Rwandans to post traumatic stress disorder, referring to “a tendency to loneliness, inability to sustain friendships, a sense of abandonment, recurring loss, powerlessness, depression, and dissolution of the self” as symptoms. Despite their claim that the “cross is sufficient,” they propose supplementing the spiritual and mental healing that Christ gives with the work of psychologists and others who have been informally trained in that field. No examples are given of other countries or communities in which “psychophysiological” (p.107) therapy, a vague term describing the root problem’s cure, has been used successfully.

Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned convinces me regarding the severity of the needs in Rwanda, but leaves me uneasy about its premise. I feel as though the authors’ plan of action is to help the Holy Spirit do His job. It appears that God’s restoring and sustaining power is not sufficient. However, if you accept the profession of psychology and enjoy learning about other cultures, you will appreciate the authors’ treatise. Supporting the group meetings that the authors propose, James 5:16(ESV) says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” This passage encourages confessing our failures to other Christians while praying for each other. Acknowledging prayer’s power is the point at which this book deteriorates, and, as such, I have some reservations about fully recommended it. Weston Young,

Book Jacket:

The genocide in 1994 left the Rwandan people feeling God was lost or hidden, a common feeling when people have experienced violent abuse against them. Because of the appalling slaughter of the genocide, Satan and evil are often perceived to be more powerful than God. This book suggests a way forward. Although God was not responsible for the carnage of the genocide, he does want to be part of the healing of its wounds. Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned is a book of action, outlining Gods plans for Rwanda and in all countries and communities like it that are searching for healing and wholeness. People seeking healing from past trauma and those wishing to widen their relationship with Christ with a greater understanding of evil and the triumph and redemption of the finished work of Christ will greatly benefit from reading this book.