Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter, Vol. 7

August 23, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – Oh, my goodness! Please forgive me again for this late newsletter that is supposed to go out monthly. God just has me hopping around with activities and time runs away from me. I keep adding to this newsletter without getting a chance to send it out. So, better late than never…Thank you for your patience.

Imana ni nziza! (God is so good!) Much has happened since my last blog. God has shined His light upon me and shown me favor. I finished off a year at Kigali International Community School, started a guitar class, traveled back to Uganda for fruitful ministry, taught English and Computer classes at World Relief, moved to a new house, and am now starting a Bible school. My time here is like the thousand hills of Rwanda. There are peaks and valleys, but I press on for the prize of Christ.

KICS, Kigali – My time at KICS has been sweet. I taught both primary and secondary level classes, weathering through the challenges, crossing many cultural gaps and startup pains. As I read the journals of my Grade 4 and 5 students, I was amazed at their prayers and reflections on our daily devotionals. They are so deeply yearning a relationship with God and Christ. I was touched by their deep thoughts and attention to the lessons. And I did not water down my teachings. The beautiful evidence of their growth was amazing.

Our final week of the school year was filled with special activities. My Grade 4 and 5 merged with Miss Lauren’s Grade 2-3 for a field trip to Peace International School, a local school for impoverished Rwandaise and Congolese refugees. The purpose was for the KICS students to exchange cultural experiences and have a chance to serve God. The tables were turned and our students played the role of teacher to the primary level students at Peace International, teaching English, Arts & Crafts, and Music. It was quite a challenge physically, mentally, and culturally, but we endured, being blessed and blessing others.

Afterwards when our students reflected on their most memorable learning experience of the year, most of them responded that they learned first that God said despite their youth they had something important to contribute to others (1 Timothy 4:12). Secondly, they said the experience at Peace International School taught them that its difficult to be a teacher and that they should cherish and listen to their teachers because it was most difficult when students would not listen. They were also appreciative of being in a school where teachers listened and cared so much. I was so proud that they had learned such huge lessons on their own and grown closer to God for it.

At our end-of-the-year program my students joined Grade 2 and 3 to present three songs devoted to Christ with sign language movements. This was my final year at KICS as I will go on to teach at World Relief and minister in the community, but I will miss the kids. Nevertheless, I will now be more available to work on World Relief projects and other ministry opportunities that directly benefit the Rwandaise community and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

GUITAR CLASSES, Kigali – I was also privileged this year to start a guitar class with my friend Francis, enrolling 5 of my students from KICS. We helped some purchase their first guitars and completed 10 weeks of Beginning I level classes, ending in a recital of “God is so Good” in English, Kinyarwanda, French, and Spanish. I have hopes of continuing and expanding these classes. There are not many places here to learn music.

UGANDA, Kampala – Just as school ended I hopped onto a bus with my ministry partner Francis and set out to re-visit our Ugandan pastor and to minister in Uganda. We started off on a 10-hour ride to the slums of Kampala where we ministered at Pastor Bizimungu and Pastor Shyaka’s Kisugu Christian Fellowship. This time I requested small groups. The first night I met with the church leaders’ group and taught about servant leadership. The next day I met with the women’s group and discussed biblical love. The ladies were blooming with good questions. One lady asked me what kind of love does Satan have. I had to break the news that Satan does not love in any way.

The third evening I taught the men about love languages and relationships. They sat on the edge of their chairs as I shared with them the secrets to their spouses’ hearts. Everyone was eager to go home and discover their spouse’s love language. Again, God knew just what they needed. Even the pastor was ready to go check out his wife.

We were also privileged to visit and minister at a men’s prison. God led me to share my testimony of salvation and change in my life to serve God. The prison was definitely not like those of the USA. The men were lacking in shoes, food, and privileges. However, we brought them a supply of soaps. This was a working low-level prison farm. The men worked the maize (corn) fields.

UGANDA, Kihihi – The next day Pastor Bizimungu, Francis, and I got on another 10-hour bus to a small remote village southwest of Kampala, near the Congolese border, called Kihihi. It’s so remote that I am the first so-called muzungu (white person) ever to visit Kihihi and it showed. Everyone was starry eyed as I got off the bus. We got there and checked into the most modern hotel we could find. Thank God there was one in the town area with modern self-contained amenities. I’m afraid the village latrines are rather primitive. I still had to use the cornfields as they were safer from the ravaging chickens that surrounded the hut-like outhouses in this village. I learned very quickly on this trip to clear the bush, stoop down, and hide under my skirt.

Pastor Bizimungu helped to build three churches in this area of Kihihi, Rusharoza, and Chabahanga. Since we were tight on time, we visited Kihihi and Rusharoza, but the leaders of Chabahanga were present at Rusharoza. The first evening I spoke with the leaders of Kihihi church in the pitch dark of the evening and then shared a meal with them. What a humbling experience! This must have been what Jesus and the disciples did many times in the olden days, preaching by a lantern. In the morning we continued on to Rusharoza whcre the leaders of all three churches convened to hear us speak.

Rusharoza has a female pastor with a miraculous testimony. She wondered into the church one day with a dead son. She prayed and vowed to God that if He would bring her son back to life she would serve him tremendously all her life. God brought her son back to life and she now pastors the church. Her son, who is now about 6 years old, is alive and running around, but he still does not speak much. The pastor is a precious and meek woman, as most women in the Ugandan culture are required to be. I noticed that none of the women could look the men in the eye when they spoke. And in Uganda it is a customary act of respect and submission that a woman must get down on her knees and below a man to greet him. The men don’t really like it, but no one has dared to change the custom. I felt an oppressed spirit in the women that God called me to address in my teaching to the church.

First I spoke with all the leaders. I shared my testimony and background and my experience with leadership in the secular and Christian world. I taught them about being a visionary leader with a mission or purpose for God. We discussed the difference between dream visions, false prophesy, and a vision from God. We talked about authority in your gifting and the importance of each role in leadership. It was a great discussion.

Afterwards, we had lunch and then I taught the church. I talked about Future Hope: Life in the Spirit (Romans). It was a miraculous experience. God impressed the plight of the submissive and oppressed women in my heart as I was teaching. I told them to be confident and proud that Jesus is in them. They must look up as they speak to all people to show the light of Jesus. As I spoke this, I saw their heads immediately rise and eyes glowing in the church.

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF RWANDA, Butare – When we returned to Kigali, it was time to drive to visit Butare where Francis attends the National University of Rwanda, the only university in Rwanda. I wanted to see what a real university campus was like in Rwanda. I was actually surprised at the size of the university. The university is spread out across this small college-town. There are so many departments and buildings. And the most impressive is their forestry department. They actually have a forest where they have planted all kinds of species of trees and plants from which to study. It’s like a huge forest park of which all the students get to take advantage. Many go there to jog or pray or other things. This college town however is only a fraction of Austin, but its more than I expected.

WORLD RELIEF, Kigali – When I returned to Kigali finally I was notified that I had to find a new house. At first I was worried, but I prayed and prayed and God found me a great house near the World Relief office in Kacyiru, behind the American embassy. This one is closer to town so it may save me some gas money. All in all, God always turns my disasters into blessings. He closes one door to open a better door. I developed a plan to teach 3 levels of English classes and 3 levels of Computer classes. There were actually 2 more classes, but we ended up combining them. It’s been both a pleasure and a challenge getting adapted to teaching adults English at varying levels. It’s not at all the same as teaching kids. I look forward to further developing curriculum to enhance the skills of the World Relief staff. Praise the Lord for his opportunities.

During my life in Rwanda, I hit a few small challenges daily and a few large ones periodically, but God pulls me through each mountain and valley. God has me covered and under control in all the changes. His plans are mysterious, but perfect. So, my time has been filled with life’s seasonal changes and just moving on to where God wants me. I am still very focused on His vision. I have weathered through false accusations, rejection, and viscous attacks of the enemy. Meanwhile, He works to teach me, grow me, and connect me to the people and places that work into His perfect plan. Each day I miss my homeland, my family, my friends, my church more and more, but each day I press on for Jesus. With many distractions that come my way, I ask God daily to refocus me and show me what I am here for and each time he tells me that its about the kids.

GOD LISTENS– Last Sunday, I was in turmoil, feeling like many things were overshadowing me and things were going in a different direction. The church and everyone I knew were partaking in ceremonial activities that disturbed and confused me. I felt that my life had been stripped bear and placed on the chopping block. I was missing home so very much and just feeling lost. I ran outside of the church to pray around the corner. I wept and pleaded with God to affirm my path, to tell me why I am here. If they worship these other people and things that come for a visit, and I can’t seem to get their attention for anything while living here, then why was I sent here to endure trials and be away from my family. As I was weeping and pleading with God, He sent me a sweet little girl who came along. First, she came as I was crying and praying, reached out her hand, and gave me a piece of candy. She, then, walked a few feet away and watched me continue to weep and plead with God. After a few minutes she came back to me and said in her sweet broken English, “Don’t cry…” I took her hand and hugged her. She walked away again and continued to watch me from a distance. I continued to weep and ask God, “Why me and what for?” She returned the third time and took my hand. I prayed with her and asked her what her name was. She told me it was Grace. I knew then that God had sent her as my answer. I was sent here not to be glorified as some great white preacher to be raised on a pedestal or someone with money or power, but in all humility to be entrusted with the children, the future of Christ’s Kingdom. Many will try to raise their flags to take power and credit, but I am to push for the flag of Christ – the Lord as our banner. No one will applaud me or raise me up high for the task, but the reward will be in the hearts and souls of the new generation. It’s not going to be glamorous. I may not be thanked, noticed, rolled out red carpet, or given awards or accolades. I will be neglected and persecuted by disbelief, but I will be pleasing to Jesus and the hearts of children. They will know who I am when they see what God provides. And God will bring me through every step of the way. So, I continue to press on for God’s will and for the children, to magnify God and de-magnify myself. The pain is just a shadow over the great joy that awaits me. My treasures are in Heaven. This mission is all about the Grace of God to save nations on earth.

Friends and Family, I pray that my journey blesses you. I want to thank all of you who are supporting me financially and spiritually through all this. Your support is definitely appreciated and being used to bear fruit. I wish I could take each and every one of you on the journey with me, but this blog will have to suffice. I am blessed to be at the forefront of God’s movement in Africa. Please feel free to email me. I welcome encouragement, questions, suggestions, or even visitors. I cherish every word and contact from home. God be with you all. Please pray for Africa.

Love in Christ Jesus,

• Praise Him for finding me a new home in good timing and within affordability. The new house is a blessing.
• Praise Him for blessing this trip with my spiritual mentor
• Praise Him for the connections and relationships He has brought
• Praise Him for the health and safety of my family in the U.S.
• Praise Him for his wisdom and protection and honing me for the mission
• Praise Him for smooth transitions into my 2nd year and a half in Rwanda.
• Praise Him for his daily love

PRAYER REQUESTS: Please help me pray for the following…
• God’s provision in securing more funds for serving in Rwanda and starting up the vision project (leadership school for orphans).
• God’s provision in releasing my tongue and mind for learning conversational Kinyarwanda,
• Please pray for funds and opportunity to visit US to register a nonprofit ministry
• Please pray for God’s Direction – for God to continue to show me where, what, and how to accomplish His will, His vision. God’s favor in my spiritual and leadership growth and strength to persevere
• Please pray for continued Protection in everything I do and everywhere I go, for my health, my new home, and for these blogs that I share.
• God’s wisdom and favor at World Relief
• God’s favor and direction with my local church
• God’s wisdom in my decision about seminary (DTS). Whether I am to withdraw or continue, and if I am to continue, how it may happen while I am still in Rwanda
• God’s protection and favor in relationships that are developing here in Rwanda

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