Rose Mapendo: A Story of Violent Forgiveness

9/26/2011 03:48:00 PM sendtheroths 0 Comments

Rose Mapendo and I after her message
Rose Mapendo is a Congolese woman who survived a death camp in the DRC. She is an activist and humanitarian who believes in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2009 she was distinguished with the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Amethyst and I (Andrew) had the opportunity to attend an event at University of Central Florida (UCF) where Rose Mapendo captivated the audience with her inspirational and heroic story of forgiveness, hope, triumph and victory.

In an emotionally charged message, Rose took the stage and basically preached the Gospel while intermingling her trials and testimony of life while in Congo! At one point of her message she began to talk about what kept her going, which she expounded on her faith in Jesus as the deliverer. Then tears began to flow as she told the audience, the only thing that kept her going at times were the songs of praise that she would sing.

Singing a song of freedom!

Rose then began to sing a melodious song in her mother tongue that was based on Psalm 23. For a brief moment, Amethyst and I were back in the remote villages of North Kivu, DRC. I closed my eyes and pictured a hundred people singing the song of peace and freedom. Amethyst and I looked at each other and such a peace came upon the room. Keep in mind this is on the setting of the UCF campus in the Student Union, an environment hostile to the Gospel. 

Rose Mapendo speaking with passion
about forgiveness.
She recounted her story of her husband being murdered and then being sent to a death camp to live in a death camp with her kids. Though she didn't realize it at the time of capture, she found out that she was pregnant, not only that but as she would then find out at delivery, with twins. She lived for 16 months in single room with over 30 others. Her whole time there, she was given two cups of rice a day to feed everyone in her family. The room they stayed in was never cleaned, blood and dysentery covered the cold concrete floor which also served as their bed. Even worse, she had to deliver her twins on this same concrete floor in complete silence for fear of being killed if a soldier heard her.

A victim who became victorious 

Rose recounted her depression and struggles but declared, you can either be a victim or you can choose to be victorious. Everyone can make a decision to either hate or to forgive. "The truth is that I became a survivor the day that I decided to forgive." Then she continued, "Anger is highly contagious, no one can change negative when they themselves are negative."
In the ultimate act of forgiveness she named her twins after the military commanders responsible for the death of her husband. Keep in mind, names are of the greatest importance in Congolese culture. This is completely unheard of in her culture and most likely the first time such a symbolic act of forgiveness has ever been done.

Jambo mama! Bwana Yesu Asifwe!

Then after the message we had an opportunity to approach her. I (Andrew) greeted her in her mother tongue. She responded nonchalantly at first almost in a manner that said "Yay, someone who speaks my language, awesome!" Then the reality set in, you could see it on her face... "WOW! How do you know my language? You're not Congolese!!!" Excitement erupted and we exchanged a brief conversation in Swahili!

"Ndio, mimi nasema Swahili kidogo. Mke wangu na mimi ni wamisionari katika Nord Kivu." (Translated: Yes, I speak a little Swahili. My wife and I are missionaries in North Kivu.)

A smile from ear to ear spread across both of our faces. We exchanged a giant hug and she was so excited to learn that: first that we were followers of Christ; second that we work in some of the same areas she came from. God is so good!

Truly a divine connection

We exchanged information and encouraged each other. We mentioned to her that she is always welcome to visit us in the DRC and that she always has a place to lay her head. Wow! What a great time. She was so blessed and we felt a divine connection. She expressed an eagerness to return to Congo to continue her efforts of spreading a message of hope and peace through reconciliation and forgiveness. It is very much needed in the DRC and elsewhere around the world.

Please check out what Rose Mapendo is doing, giving hope to the hopeless, by visiting her website She is a passionate on fire Christian woman who has endured what no person should ever have to endure.

Also, Amethyst wrote an article in the Central Florida Future recapping the event. Read the full story by clicking the image below.