Good Friday and Easter: After Rwanda

In the early 1990s, Scottish Tearfund health worker Lesley Strachan met and married Rwandan pastor Charles Bilinda. Less than 18 months after the wedding, in April 1994, he vanished in the genocide.

For Lesley, the frantic search for her husband gradually turned into acceptance that he had been killed – one of at least 800,000 people to be butchered in a matter of months. But ten years on, her search for his killers and details of how he had died turned up another very painful truth.

In conversation with Mark Dowd, Lesley Bilinda recalls the anguish of those years and how the pain and betrayal she experienced led her into a deep crisis of faith: why had God not protected Charles during the genocide? What does forgiveness mean if you do not know your husband’s killers –or in a situation of personal betrayal? And where do such questions leave you in a church setting where doubt is frowned upon?

As the story unfolds, we hear how her own pain has led Lesley to a far deeper awareness of Christ’s suffering on the cross – and how 20 years on, precisely because of the depth of her own sorrow, she also experiences times of genuine resurrection joy.


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  • Profound and moving.

  • […] Fascinating and powerful stuff on the spiritual podcast from Things Unseen […]

  • Thank you so much, Lesley. The clarity, humanity and depth of your answers to the many difficult questions you answered, and have faced over the last 20 years, are extraordinary at any time. They are especially meaningful as you commemorate your Charles’ disappearance 20 years ago, and all of us who are Christians are called at this Easter time to focus on the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

  • Hadn’t before thought about the fact that Jesus deferred to his Father on the cross and asked Him to forgive those who were executing him. Relieves us from the burden of having to hold judgement over anyone or of having to carry the weight of ‘unforgiveness’. Was this a final act of deference to the Father or of surrender? Thanks for your thoughts Leslie on this important subject and for sharing your powerful story.

  • thanks for this belief; god with us! but people are the killers, the people who betray but even the people who can be thruthfull! thank you for the thougts about forgiveness!
    nice Easter.


  • Lesley – than you so much for so honestly sharing your experience, your deep, deep pain and your walk with God. You have been a blessing to me and several times as I have preached this year I have shared your insight with others. Thanks again – and may you go on knowing God’s presence and strength day by day.

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