Rwanda's Evangelical Churches bring revival to the nation

Many believers left Church since the breakout of the genocide in Rwanda a decade ago, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed within 100 days, which is one of the most tragic incident in modern history.

"I no longer go to Mass because of what I saw and heard. I no longer see the church as a holy place because the killers yelled, even God has forsaken you.' Karasira Venuste, one of tens of thousands of Rwandans who have left Rwanda's Catholic Church since the 1994 genocide, said.

"The only thing that will get me inside a church now is a funeral," said Venuste, the right sleeve of his shirt dangling empty, a testament to the work of a machete blade.

During these 10 days, Rwanda's Pentecostal, evangelical and charismatic churches arise and bring revivals to the nation.

"There's a great turning back to God in Rwanda," said Antoine Rutasiyire, 46, one of the country's leading evangelists. "The genocide created a great awareness about God."

"The Catholic Mass is not dynamic. People under the age of 40 want a different kind of worship service, with clapping and singing. Our churches are more down-to-earth and more open to talking about our wounds," Rutasiyire said.

In the capital Kigali alone, the 4-year-old Zion Temple Pentecostal Church numbers has increased in number to 7,000 members. This increasing strength has also impact the upper tiers of Rwanda's government.

During Rwanda's presidential campaign in August, evangelical leaders took a leading role in staging rallies for President Paul Kagame and his ruling Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front.

Rutasiyire and other evangelical leaders now hold twice-a-month prayer breakfasts for Rwanda's leaders and lead a weekly Bible study at the home of Rwanda's foreign minister, Charles Murigande, a former statistics professor at Howard University in Washington.

Evangelical leaders recently forced the government to tone down a billboard condom advertisement whose wording they believed promoted promiscuity, Rutasiyire said. In a country where as many as 1.1 million people are thought to be infected with HIV/AIDS, the successful lobbying effort was of no small consequence.

Rwanda roughly has 4.8 million, or 62 percent, of the country's pre-genocide population of 7.8 million identified with the faith, making Rwanda the most Catholic country in Africa.

The Genocide began with the conflicts between two ethnic groups