Population:  8,162,715       Publishers:  13,341     Ratio: 1 to 612 persons       Congregations: 1,438   [2006 Yearbook]


 Baptism  Rwanda-Style


The 1995 Watchtower, April 15, pages 18,19 comments about the integrity of our Rwandan brothers under the subheading, "Integrity Keepers in the Book of Life":

"At this point, we may comment on the integrity of our Rwandan brothers and sisters. They have always brought the finest of spiritual offerings to Jehovah’s spiritual house of worship. For example, at their "Divine Teaching" District Convention in December 1993, their 2,080 Kingdom publishers reaped a total attendance of 4,075. There were 230 new Witnesses baptized, and of these, nearly 150 enrolled in auxiliary pioneer service the following month.

"When ethnic hatred burst forth in April 1994, at least 180 Witnesses, including the city overseer in Kigali, the capital, and his entire family, were killed. The six translators at the Watch Tower Society’s office in Kigali, four of them Hutu and two Tutsi, continued working for several weeks under heavy threats, until the Tutsi had to flee, only to be killed at a checkpoint. Finally, carrying what was left of their computer equipment, the remaining four fled to Goma, in Zaire, where they loyally continued to translate The Watchtower into the Kinyarwanda language.—Isaiah 54:17

"These refugee Witnesses, though in dire circumstances, always asked for spiritual food ahead of material provisions. At great sacrifice, loving brothers from several lands were able to get supplies through to them. By word of mouth and by their orderliness under stress, these refugees have given a marvelous witness. They have indeed continued to bring of their best to Jehovah’s worship. They have demonstrated a conviction like Paul’s expressed at Romans 14:8: "If we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. Therefore both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah."

"Jehovah keeps record of all who serve him in integrity. Malachi’s prophecy continues: "At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name."—Malachi 3:16. How important it is today that we show godly fear in honoring Jehovah’s name! Doing so, we will not suffer adverse judgment, as will those who admiringly support this world’s systems.

The 1996 Watchtower, November 1, pages 17-19 describes how the brothers in Rwanda risked their lives for one, relating:

"Recently our dear brothers in Rwanda went through an experience similar to that of Paul and his companions. Many lost their lives, but Satan’s efforts failed to destroy their faith. Rather, our brothers in this land have experienced God’s comfort in many personal ways. During the genocide of Tutsi and Hutu living in Rwanda, there were Hutu who risked their lives to protect Tutsi and Tutsi who protected Hutu. Some were killed by extremists for protecting their fellow believers. For example, a Hutu Witness named Gahizi was killed after hiding a Tutsi sister named Chantal. Chantal’s Tutsi husband, Jean, was hidden in another location by a Hutu sister named Charlotte. For 40 days Jean and another Tutsi brother remained hidden in a large chimney, only coming out for brief periods during the night. All this time, Charlotte provided them with food and protection, although living close to a Hutu army camp. On this page, you can see a picture of a reunited Jean and Chantal, who are thankful that their Hutu fellow worshipers ‘risked their necks’ for them, just as Prisca and Aquila did for the apostle Paul.—Romans 16:3, 4


"Another Hutu Witness, Rwakabubu, was praised by the newspaper Intaremara for protecting Tutsi fellow believers. It stated: "There is also Rwakabubu, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who continued to hide people here and there among his brothers (that’s how fellow believers call one another). He used to spend the whole day long carrying food and drinking water for them though he is an asthmatic. But God made him extraordinarily strong."

"Consider, too, an interested Hutu couple named Nicodeme and Athanasie. Before the outbreak of genocide, this married couple had been studying the Bible with a Tutsi Witness named Alphonse. At the risk of their lives, they hid Alphonse in their home. Later they realized that the house was not a safe place because their Hutu neighbors knew about their Tutsi friend. Therefore, Nicodeme and Athanasie hid Alphonse in a hole in their yard. This was a good move because the neighbors began to come searching for Alphonse almost every day. While lying in this hole for 28 days, Alphonse meditated on Bible accounts such as the one about Rahab, who hid two Israelites on the roof of her house in Jericho. (Joshua 6:17) Today Alphonse continues his service in Rwanda as a preacher of the good news, thankful that his Hutu Bible students risked their lives for him. And what about Nicodeme and Athanasie? They are now baptized Witnesses of Jehovah and conduct over 20 Bible studies with interested persons.


"At the time the genocide in Rwanda started, there were 2,500 proclaimers of the good news in the country. Although hundreds lost their lives or were compelled to flee the country, the number of Witnesses has increased to over 3,000. That is proof that God indeed comforted our brothers. What about the many orphans and widows among Jehovah’s Witnesses? Naturally, these still suffer tribulation and need continued comfort. (James 1:27) Their tears will be completely wiped away only when the resurrection takes place in God’s new world. Nevertheless, thanks to the ministrations of their brothers and because they are worshipers of "the God of all comfort," they are able to cope with life. 

There is more information about what happened in Rwanda, as well as many more interesting accounts and experiences of our Rwandan brothers in the Watchtower publications that can be researched through the Watchtower Library CD and Watchtower Index.