Imagine a country with sloping mountains and a national park dedicated to volcanos, gorillas, and golden monkeys and you have just a small picture of Rwanda. Nestled between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania, Rwanda has a big reputation for such a small country.
Over the years, this African nation has been the focal point of world news from devastating genocide to its most recent re-election of its president, Paul Kagame. It could be easy to assign Rwanda to only these news stories and ignore the great strides this country has made in the last two decades.
Those strides, in part, are due to a slow and subtle move among its people and has its roots in the Christian church. There are many missionaries and organizations that find work in Rwanda from the United States, providing help and aid. But some of the most powerful stories of hope and change are coming from pastors who call Rwanda home.
Pastors like Pastor Ananie.
It only takes a minute or two to catch Pastor Ananie’s infectious passion for his home country of Rwanda and the spreading of the Gospel. Ask him any question about his church, the work he does in conjunction with With Open Eyes and you can hear the smile in his voice and the passion in his heart.
I recently got to talk with Pastor Ananie about his work in Rwanda. We covered everything from the impact of the Jesus Film to his plan to get a mobile messenger in every zone in Rwanda and the one thing he would love to have covered in prayer.
A Plan for Rwanda – and Beyond
To do anything, you have to have a plan, a roadmap for that plan and an idea of what your overall goal is. Pastor Ananie has that and more when it comes to reaching his nation.
“Rwanda has 5 provinces. We’ve divided those provinces into 416 zones and our goal is to get at least one Mobile Messenger into each sector,” he said. “If we can get one Mobile Messenger there, then we can raise up other Mobile Messengers. Then we teach them to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to raise up many, many Mobile Messengers.”
As Pastor Ananie looks at Rwanda, he sees an opportunity to tell everyone about Jesus. But his vision doesn’t stop with his own country. He also wants to see a similar set up of zones and Mobile Messengers sent to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But there are obstacles to dreams so big. The biggest one thus far, outside of transportation, is training. “Many people who come to us to be Mobile Messengers don’t have any background in the Bible,” Pastor Ananie shared. This can be a hard hurdle to cross, even with the training provided through With Open Eyes. But he has hope.
A group of men and women are about to complete their training in November. Pastor Ananie is encouraged. “The training is helpful because it motivates them to know Jesus on another level. It also helps them learn how to evangelize and preach the gospel with boldness.” He pauses. “But they need prayer.”
Training to preach the Gospel is only half the battle for these Mobile Messengers. Once they have graduated, they are sent back into their communities to help churches and to travel to remote villages. But the terrain of Rwanda can be treacherous. (Remember the volcano national park?) And people are often discouraged, especially when they can’t reach remote villages. But still, they persevere.
Another area where Pastor Ananie is focusing his efforts is in prisons. “We cannot leave prisoners behind,” he told me, his voice strong, but quiet. “It is very important that we take the gospel into the prisons so we’re sending Mobile Messengers in there with the Gospel.”
The Jesus Film Impact
Another tool that is helping Pastor Ananie and his church reach people is The Jesus Film. For those who are unfamiliar, The Jesus Film created to share the story of Jesus through the power of film. It has been translated into more than 1500 languages, including Kinyarwanda, the official language of Rwanda.
Pastor Ananie says that the ability to reach people through the film has been a huge help to their ministry. “The Jesus Film is a fantastic tool. It is reaching thousands and thousands of people with the message of Jesus.”
They would love to have more copies and equipment so that a church in all 5 provinces in Rwanda have a copy of the film and continue to extend their impact.
How You Can Pray
Listening to Pastor Ananie talk about the ministry he and his churches do in Rwanda is incredibly moving. And I asked him at the end of our conversation how we could pray for him, his family and his ministry.
- Continue to pray for the Mobile Messengers, both newly trained and those who have been in the field for a long time. Pray they would be bold for Jesus and have the endurance to preach the Gospel.
- Pray the prisoners they are ministering to, that their hearts would be open to the Gospel.
- Pray for Pastor Ananie’s family. He has six children, with a couple in university, a couple in primary school and a young son under two. Pray that they would stay unified as a family and that the Lord would protect their relationships.
If Pastor Ananie’s story impacted you, would you consider donating to With Open Eyes? We’re raising money to equip pastors and Mobile Messengers like Ananie with everything from backpacks to audio Bibles, to motorbikes. Even $5 makes a huge difference. Find out how here.