Reports From The Field – Kigali, Rwanda
We started our day by meeting the 15 Mobile Messengers at Church of Faith Rwanda for a morning training and encouragement session. Our Program Director, Courtney shared a solid word from Nehemiah, encouraging them and strengthening them through prayer. Our ministry partner from Kenya, Pastor Simon Kariuki from Cities of Refuge ministries traveled with us and shared the 4 Marks of a Mobile Messenger from the book of Mark. He was such a blessing and he motivated them to keep going, to move forward and to always be willing to ‘be sent.’ After we concluded the morning session, to the field we went.
In the mid 90’s, genocide occurred in Rwanda and within a 6 month timeframe, almost 1,000,000 Rwandese people were killed and slaughtered. As I wrote yesterday, our partner, Pastor Ananie shared with us that usually different people groups all have their own unique mother tongue, or language. In Rwanda, the three different tribes were Hutu, Tutsi & Twoi. Different from other people groups, they all speak the same mother tongue which means at one time, they were all one people. German and Belgium influence divided these people into classifications based on amounts of cattle they owned, or if they farmed agriculturally, or based on their physical size. The genocide was the culmination of hardened hearts against the Tustsi people.
On this day, our Mobile Messengers took us out to an area they felt was of great urgency for them called ‘Bugesera’. Before the genocide, as people were classified, many were sent to live in Bugesera region because it was known for its infestation of flies, mosquitoes and malaria surrounding the large Bugesera lake and swamps. Although some were affected by the malaria and other diseases, the people learned how to survive by clearing out the swampy areas. In 1995, when the genocide happened, this was an area of catastrophic killings and slaughterings. Men, Women and children who once knew one another, whose homes were open to one another, now turned against each other and thousands, upon thousands were killed. It was an area that was deeply affected and as a result, fields and natural landscape represent an area that once was filled with homes and people. As we drove through the Bugesera area, the most significant observation we made was the countless number of children and young people. They were everywhere and I mean everywhere! We were amazed at how primitive the area is, comparing it even to the primitiveness of Sudan in some cases. Children are heads of households in those areas and were forced to raise their siblings, among now some even having babies of their own. What we were witnessing was new ground, new generations and the urgency of the Mobile Messengers in Rwanda to raise up the Christian church in an area that has not been touched.
We arrived at the first church that was planted 4 months ago and children, and young people surrounded us with dancing and singing and praising! It was amazing to see so many young people, out in the middle of nowhere. They are very, very poor and kept smiling and laughing at the ‘mazungus’ (white people) who came to see them. Coincidentally, one of our travelers has a physical resemblance to the image of Jesus that is widely known so they kept saying he looked like ‘Yesu’. I asked the mobile messenger how they too had that image of Jesus in their mind, not having even a church in that area let a lone a book, and he explained that he showed them the Jesus Film. We all shared words of encouragement and Pastor Simon, our partner from Kenya who traveled with us, led them into a power filled message even doing an altar call where more than 20 of them prayed the sinners prayer for the first time. We spent an amazing time with them. They were so happy we were there and it was difficult to leave them because we could tell they wanted us to stay longer. Especially because 90% of them were 15 years of age and younger. Simply amazing.
We drove to a second church called, Mayangue. They had full on worship going on when we pulled up. Again, it’s so humbling to see these people in the middle of nowhere! They have nothing but the joy they share is so infectious! The mobile messenger was telling me that 6 people there would be baptized this Sunday. The ‘leader’ of the village even came to speak with us and thanked the mobile messenger for his commitment to their people. He is currently training a leader there and although he knows his work there is not complete, he already has the spots within the Bugesera region marked, where he will go next. We are amazed that one motorbike has made such an impact already.
Our last day in Rwanda we visited the Genocide Memorial in Kigali and in that building, we read about what happened in the area where we just traveled through the days before and it was overwhelming to see what suffering they had gone through. The children we hugged and many of the hands we shook watched their loved ones die right in front of them, yet there they were. God had a reason all those children survived. We believe it was to wait for the messenger to light the fire of Christ so that they will spread quickly throughout that region.
CLICK HERE to view more pictures of the field visit in Rwanda.