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March 29, 2009, KIGALI, RWANDA – Whew! I serve a powerful God who is able to do all things…and He is allowing me to be a conduit for His goodness. How blessed I am! I thank God every day for using me so fully that I am so busy. Truly, I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. My friends and family, I thank you for your patience in awaiting my blog updates. I pray for your welfare and your growth in Christ. I pray that He opens your eyes, your mind, and your heart to join me in worshiping such an awesome God. I speak peace and love into your lives.
Each day I face challenges of this world coming at me from both US and Rwanda. Its difficult to serve from one side of the world, but get your support from the other side of the world. People forget you and get caught up with their own lives. This is quite a trip God has me tackling. I can’t even describe for you all the ways the enemy tries to stop me. Each day I face the limitations and persecutions of the world as well as my own flesh and I pray for God’s forgiveness and mercy. Each day He grants me the utmost forgiveness, fuels me for the journey ahead, and carries me through each obstacle. And with that I am rewarded greater faith in my Lord. I wish I had the Kinyarwanda language fully in my grasp so that I may directly share with the people of Rwanda the full passion I have for Jesus and the full love He has placed in my heart for the people of Rwanda. How He has truly rescued me from a life of darkness and continues to rescue me daily from the crevices of life. As I share with you the updated status of my mission in Rwanda, I hope it is not just news, but that you see Jesus moving throughout my life, loving me, growing me, blessing me, strengthening me. Daily I face accusations of faith, flesh, opinions, contradictory advice, discouragements, challenges of survival funds, and just time restraints…but I always fall back on the Truth of Jesus who saved me…who took on painful human flesh to crucify my sins and my pains on the cross. So, daily I press on knowing that my challenges, my pains, my struggles are nothing compared to what He took on for me and have already been won on the cross by my Lord Jesus. God continues to do a work in transitioning me to the next steps of the mission here in Rwanda. I am transitioning from World Relief project to many other projects as God directs me...
A BETTER LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
As I transition from World Relief and process the startup of my own organization, God has graciously allowed me to serve briefly at another NGO as Education Program Director at a small school for needy children and to assess and grow the education program, train teachers, and help develop resources. I believe this is another learning and transitional step to building Urukundo for the Children.
My first challenge was finding a new English speaking teacher for the primary school. I have been immersed in interviewing multitudes of candidates of questionable qualifications to train and trust with the future of the children. The primary school is currently P1-4 with about 200 students of whom many are HIV and orphans. Their education has been spotty so their knowledge and performance is also spotty. Some are illiterate, others are confused. This experience has been quite eye-awakening. This year the government abruptly changed the national language to English (from French and Kinyarwanda) so all subjects must now be taught in English. This is a challenge as even the teachers do not know English well, but now must teach all subjects in English. Finding a Rwandaise teacher who speaks correct English and can teach it on limited funds is a true challenge. Many people think they speak English, but they have learned spotty English laced with bad grammar taught by teachers who also have limited English capacity. I cannot allow the children to learn anything but correct English so it’s a task. Posting jobs here is not the same as the US. We went church to church asking them to announce the need and the word of a job opening spread like wildfire. And I have been getting all sorts of strange calls from people Please pray for good teachers
Praise God! We were finally blessed with a new headmaster so I am excited about having someone to help me train and manage the staff and children. Please pray for our work together to be blessed for the sake of the children.
We are also hoping to start English classes to support the community in the national transition to English which will effect many people's job qualifications.
Please pray for us as we end the first of three terms and start our teacher training week. Pray for willingness in the current teachers. Also pray as I assess 200 students and re-plan a more effective system for their academic growth.
GOOD FRIENDS, GOOD MINISTRY
God has blessed me with a precious friend, Ezra, who is Ugandan/Rwandaise married to a Canadian nurse, Mona. They have a ministry of former mayibobo street boys (homeless children) that they took off the streets and support in a communal house. These boys have testimonies of living hungry on the streets, being beaten up, stealing and being put in jails or enslaved in child labor. I have befriended and been visiting these eight boys weekly and helping to fellowship in Christ-likeness and teach Bible. I have taken them on outings to play B-ball and shown them movies. On our B-ball outing we worshiped under a straw canopy and the neighborhood kids joined us. We played and shared cookies. There must have been about 20 kids in addition to the 8.
These boys are hungry for Jesus and precious as can be. They range from about age 10-17. Just a few weeks ago they ran out of food while Ezra was out of town, so I took your donated funds and bought them a few days worth of food. They had been praying for it because they were just on their last meal. These boys are in my heart and sealed in Christ. They are precious. Please help me to help them more. I want to purchase them English Bibles and teach them English through Bible Studies. I hope to visit them weekly and be a light of Jesus in their lives. As I get to know them more, we share testimonies and they ask me questions about life, the Bible, and God. They are hungry. Pray for Ezra and Mona as they strive to raise funds to continue to support these and other boys who would otherwise perish on the streets. God has a plan for their future.
Last week I went to worship with them and teach Bible, along with my friend Christian from church who graciously volunteers his time with me (and is the most awesome keyboardist in town). I opened the forum for questions and they were so attentive. They had a lot of questions. I shared my testimony with them and planted some seeds. Sometimes I show movies like Facing the Giants and Billy Graham’s Something to Sing About which blesses them with Christian lessons. These kids are now impressed in my heart.
LISTEN TO MY SONGS
I met Ezra and Pastor P (the guy in blue leading worship on Bball day) when they produced my songs at Ezra’s studio. I have recorded two songs that God gave me and I am hoping to raise more funds to record four more songs for an album to benefit my organization Urukundo for the Children, spread hope and awareness, and help local vulnerable children. Please check on my facebook PAGE to hear the songs “Bridge to Rwanda” and “Urukundo for the Children.” Pastor P even asked me to sing Urukundo for the Children at his concert, which got alot of response to the song subject. The songs may be downloaded through SnoCap for 99cents which goes to my living support to serve in Rwanda and to support and develop other projects to support the children. Both these songs were given to me from God. “Bridge to Rwanda” is God’s vision of hope in Rwanda and my original call to return to serve indefinitely here in Rwanda. “Urukundo for the Children” is the namesake of my organization and the song is about the “mayibobo” street boys. But the song is for all the kids in the world who have no parents or home. God remembers you and loves you. God inspired me to record this in Rwanda as they are birthed in Rwanda and about hope for Rwanda. Anyone interested in contributing funds or in-kind donations, please send checks to Urukundo for the Children at 4020 Blue Bonnet, Unit G, Houston, TX 77025, Attn: Beth Richards
URUKUNDO FOR THE CHILDREN
My organization Urukundo for the Children (501c3 pending) is finally incorporated in Houston, Texas. Praise God! Now, please pray for the final step of making the Budget and submitting to the IRS for 501c3 status. God led me to start this organization to fulfill the original calling and vision from God. The organization will initiate specific projects to help children around the world, starting in Rwanda. There are still many children who are discarded and thrown away by the world system, who have fallen through the cracks of rescue efforts. This includes countless homeless children and children with disabilities from all economic backgrounds that are hidden in hopeless closets. God has called me to work directly with the people to find these hidden children and provide some hope in survival and a future. We will also support the education and efforts of existing and future leaders of churches and ministries to develop more capable resources to help train communities to care for their children, to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. The goal is to build knowledge and Christian integrity to take on responsibility. “Urukundo” means “love” in Kinyarwanda, the native language of Rwanda. Urukundo for the Children is God’s love for the precious children. They are the hope of the future. We must take care of their mind, body and spirit to nurture and develop the future leaders of peace. Please join me in starting this grassroots effort.
In my time here I have seen so much mismanagement of funds and visions gone unknowingly astray due to culture disconnects and lack of accountability. I praise God that He has given me favor with the people of Rwanda who share with me their perceptions of the state of affairs in Rwanda and share their hearts with me. Our goal is to always work directly with the people within the culture and always train for accountability and to multiply the effort. We strive not to get lost in the shuffle of corporate growth and bureaucracy. I will always personally follow the funds directly to the children. Our main project goal is to eventually build schools for Christ (owned and run by Christ, credited to Christ) to raise up his orphaned children His Way, the Christ Is Our Hope School Community Rwanda. This is the vision and answer that He gave me in 2006 in Cyangugu when I asked Him what He wants me to do. He said “build my schools.” I will write more later as the organization develops. Please join us and pray for us. Thank you! Pray for the 501c3 to clear quickly.
KIGALI HOPE FESTIVAL (ANDREW PALAU)
I have taken on a side project of helping to consult with the Palau festival which is coming to Rwanda in July. I am assisting with Compassion Connect who heads the Season of Service project for Palau. We are organizing a four day free clinic of volunteer doctors and nurses from US and Rwanda to care for local sick people. We are also uniting leaders and volunteers from all the local churches to help organize this. Pray for this extraordinary task. Churches here do not usually work together except for musical purposes so it’s a challenge. People also don't volunteer without monetary compensation. Also pray for organization amidst a very laid back culture. I am helping Palau and Compassion Connect be an American liaison here in Rwanda to consult on cultural differences and to check on logistical accountability of the project. Please pray for the success of the community volunteer projects and the festival at Amahoro stadium in July. Their goal of unity will truly bless the country and bless God, so I am fully on board to contribute what I can to even an inch of their success.
MY NEW CHURCH FAMILY: RWANDA FOR JESUS
I have joined a new church and I am just loving it so much. Rwanda For Jesus is headed by Pastor Steven Gashumba. He is a truly anointed pastor who teaches the people to change their attitude and ways, to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. And I have seen how extraordinary the people are. I am honored to serve them and help Pastor Gashumba develop the church administration.
I have been welcomed so graciously by the worship team. In fact, we just finished their first CD release concert. The album is called “Sinzibagirana” which means “I will never be forgotten.” I helped to design the album cover and I am designing the church website. I also teach English worship songs to the team and sometimes I lead a few songs in the English service. God has called me way out of my comfort zone, but He always gets me through.
I have joined the international (English speaking) G12 cell group. This means Government of 12. Most of the people in my group are Kenyan missionaries or pastors. Its awesome. I have found so many new friends. Sometimes I host the meetings at my house.
Please help me to help this pastor grow. I am seeking opportunities to scholarship and train him in short leadership programs like those at College of Biblical Studies in the US. I am also looking for opportunities and host accommodations in Houston for my Rwandan pastor to meet with my US pastor and other pastors and churches to learn about growing church communities. Pastor Gashumba has a unique and sincere vision to build a church of servant leaders for Christ in Rwanda. He thinks big and pro-actively. He wants to raise Rwandan missionaries for the world to glorify Christ. Anyone interested in hosting accommodations and transportation for my Pastor Gashumba and showing him around in August 2009 (OR better yet funding my air ticket to accompany him so I can host him and transport him around), please contact me at LHSATORI@yahoo.com.
OTHER TEACHING AND GUEST APPEARANCES
I continue to be invited to lead worship or teach Bible at churches and conferences. When I appear I represent an international perspective of Christ. Campus Crusades International has asked me to lead worship at their Leadership Conferences and Bethsaida Ministries (local unity of young leaders trained in Christ) invites me to teach.
Friends, in order to remain in Rwanda to continue to serve God and model Christ, I need to be able to pay rent, bills, food, and my guard’s salary, not to mention gasoline, car insurance and maintenance. Right now I am stretching dwindling funds. Please advocate for me and the kids. It pains me when children need thinkgs and I cannot pull out funds to help because I don't have funds to even live. Please help me to have a pocket full of grace for the kids.
TO DONATE TO THE STARTUP OF MY ORGANIZATION URUKUNDO FOR THE CHILDREN (501c3 pending)
Make a check payable to “Urukundo for the Children” and send to:
Urukundo for the Children
4020 Blue Bonnet Blvd., Unit G
Houston, TX 77025
PLEASE ADVOCATE FOR US, FOR THE CHILDREN
Please be my advocate of prayer and fundraising. I need your help. Gather friends to sponsor bike rides, run/walks, picnics, bake sales, or concerts for the cause of Esther’s Aid and all the ministry God has brought to me in Rwanda. There are children who need your help. There’s a nation that needs hope. Help me to stay so I can develop a better education system for them and a future hope in Christ.
Pray the Word Ministries has graciously offered to organize prayer periodical prayer support meetings. Please contact them if you want to join the Prayer Warrior Group for my mission Rwanda. Visit www.praytheword.org or contact Jerrel Altic at Houston's First Baptist Church.
* For new Headmaster
* For reduced visa fee
* Sustaining me through trials and challenges
* For my local and intl friends and family
* For my church Rwanda for Jesus
* Fundraising for my support
* All my USA supporters
* Budget and 501c3 for Urukundo for the Children
* Teacher training week and working with new headmaster
* Communication and work relations
* Ezra's boys and the entire Narrow Road Ministries
* Organization of my support funds
* Rwanda For Jesus church and development
* All Palau festival oraganization and relationships
* Relationships new and old
* Means to financial stability so I can stay indefinitely to serve
* Renewal of my visa
* Funds to finish the Bridge to Rwanda album
* Funds to travel to Burundi and to return to Uganda to minister
* Spiritual and physical strength to persevere the challenges
* Time management, budgeting & safety
All in all, I am really blessed to serve. God takes care of everything. I have a few small jobs to make some ends meet. I teach after school programs at the Belgian School, and tutor a few kids. So, between full-time volunteer ministering, I also hop from job to job. It stretches me, but God makes me able. God is also building a diverse pool of friends and family in the Rwandans to stabilize my environment. He truly will not forsake me. I pray for further stabilization so that I may stay indefinitely to make a difference here for His Kingdom. As funds dwindle, I asked God if its time to go home, and as you see He has not packed my bags. There is so much ministry yet to do. There is a hunger to know God and His way of life. Many are deceitful out of hunger for the material because they don’t know any other way. I believe that everything I do here is God’s work, just shining of Jesus in all I do, modeling sincerity and integrity in Christ. People are perplexed and don’t really know why and how I serve as a volunteer. Some don’t believe me and think I have a pot of gold sustaining me somewhere. My pot of gold is in the Kingdom of Heaven. Right now I count on God’s grace to sustain me, and people like you who God inspires to invest in this mission to shine for Jesus in Rwanda. His vision of hope in Rwanda is true. He has not forsaken me or His Word. I believe in God with all my heart. Many will judge me or second guess me, but I stand by what my Lord has told and shown me. This is all my life, to belong to Jesus, to serve Him, to bring His brilliant light of Hope to others. This was a quick synopsis of what is in the works. Sorry, I am kept so busy that I hadn’t had time to sit and write and put photos together. Pray for time to blog. I am on facebook too if you want to get quick one line updates and prayer requests. I welcome emails or postcards just to say hello. It truly encourages me to hear from people. I love you all and miss you. Please find me on facebook and join my CAUSE to raise funds and spread awareness. God bless you all so much. I love you all. PRAY FOR ME & THE KIDS, PLEASE! Imana arabakunda (God loves you)! Ndagukunda cyane (I love you very much)!
Love in Christ Jesus,
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