Small group study guide


Six session STUDY GUIDE

The questions relate to the sections of the book From Genocide to Generosity, hatreds heal on Rwanda’s hills by John Steward Ph.D. The purpose of the questions is to reflect on the healing and hope conveyed in the stories and apply what we learn from the Rwandan experience.

“The first duty of love is to listen”, said Paul Tillich. It is essential that our conversations take place in an environment that provides freedom to talk from the heart, and safety to converse without any member of the group wanting to make us change our mind. This is consistent with the small group processes in Rwanda, which allow a person to open their heart without someone else interrupting, judging or correcting them.

Each of the six Parts of the book contains unique material and requires adequate time to discuss. If your group is meeting for one to two hours at a time, it could take six sessions to digest the content.

Note: sometimes when the Rwandan’s stories are discussed tears come to a person’s eyes, because we are speaking about difficult things. An appropriate response in these moments is to allow the person to have their tears, so have a box of tissues handy. As they become composed, members of the group may offer gentle affirmation or invite the person to say more, in the way that my small group helped Drusilla discuss her pain, as described in the book’s Prologue.

Each member of the group needs assurance that, should the material affect them, their well-being is tantamount. When any group member continues to struggle, the group needs to offer them space to recover, and freedom to leave the discussion. In cases where a person is deeply and profoundly affected and is not able to cope within the group then it is important to link them with a skilled person to provide further support.

A launch couple

Part 1: Coping with Chaos

(pages 11 to 33)

What insights have I gained about ‘schooling’ my emotions in my children and myself?

What part of the Personal Development Workshop is of most interest to me at this stage of my life?

What practical insights have I received in the section “Looking back” and in Josephine’s account of her healing journey?

To whom could I write a letter of farewell because they departed this life unexpectedly and I was unable to say ‘goodbye’. What would I want to say to them?


Part 2: Looking for Light,

plus the Appendix The 12 step process of forgiveness

(pages 35 to 53, and 177-8)

How do the two women’s stories help me face grief in my life?

How do these brave people inspire me to take courage in my difficult situations?

What surprises me about the content of the 12 steps of forgiveness? What insights does it give to me about forgiveness?


Part 3: Taming the Trauma

(pages 55 to 76)

Nyamutera describes prejudice with some colourful terms including ‘unquestioning…’, ‘…a landmine’, ’a world…’, ‘a poison…’. What realities lead or tempt me to feel and express my prejudice or intolerance?

Considering Makoriko’s healing journey, what ‘freezes’ me inside? What do I hear when people say ‘sorry’ to me?

Genuine apology can be very powerful. When have I found this to be so in my life?


Part 4: Hope after the Horror

(pages 77 to 106)

Nsabiyera speaks of the importance of “Expressing truth of personal painful memories and community hurts”; he also says “healing is foundational to forgiveness”. How does this understanding help me?

What challenges me or affirms me in Mama Deborah’s amazing story?

Father Michael and Jean-Baptiste suffered in very different ways – what inspires me about their generosity to others?


Part 5: Judging for Justice

(pages 107 to 134)

Which conditions for justice and reconciliation in Rwanda seem to be realisticfor my situation? Which of the Rwandan conditions appear to be too outrageous/unlikely for my situation and what might change that?

Bembereza made an effort to return to Delphina something of hers that was lost. What does this act show me about restitution, and what might I do about making restitution to someone I have hurt?

Munyeli suggests that in some circumstances saying sorry is sufficient. Is “sorry” enough? What about when the pain is almost breaking me?



Part 6: Facing the Future

(pages 135 to 155)

What is my dream for the youth who live around me?

What important messages are the youth in my life saying, or showing to me?

What is a moment in my life when something I had lost was returned to me? What was that like for me?



Single session STUDY GUIDE

The following questions may help conversation during a single session after reading from genocide to generosity by John Steward PhD.

1 Which story most interested or moved me, and why?

2 What has helped me in the course of reading this material?

3 What is difficult for me to put into practice from this book?

4 What I would say to these Rwandan to have told their story is……………………………………………………………………………………………..


Please send your comments and questions to




Born in Adelaide, South Australia Grew up in Java, Indonesia Educated high school and agriculture in Adelaide Theological education in Brisbane Overseas experience in Asia and Africa, North America and Europe

3 thoughts to “Small group study guide”

  1. Thanks so much for your helpful book, which I am reading for a journal I administer, BookNotes for Africa, at Your book is in some ways similar to Kolini and Holmes’ book, Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned (also concerned with mental health issues and psychological healing).

    Since I just found the new study guide on the home page after finding none under “study guides”, you may want to move it there.

    1. Rich – thanks. I am pleased to know of the journal. I had not discovered the book you mentioned though have great respect for Archbishop Kolini to whom you refer. Thanks for the point about moving the study guide. I am still a learner in developing a website.
      Keep in touch.

  2. Hi John,
    Thanks for the Study guide notification. I actually lead a Life group at our church, and led the Faith Effect by Tim Costello about addressing poverty globally. I am happy to raise the topic of Forgiveness and your study guide with our group, outside our structured Life group program.
    Warm Regards,

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