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October 29, 2009, KIGALI, RWANDA – A LOVE STORY…
When God called me to Rwanda, I was (and still am) so completely sold-out for Christ. I told God that I was complete and I live only to serve the purpose of Christ (To Live is Christ, To die is gain). I told God that I didn’t need a husband and family to complete me. I just want to serve Him all my life and then join Him in Heaven. I heard God’s voice in my heart say, “Child, don’t sell me short. Don’t you think I can give you what you want? If it’s the desire of your heart, then it shall be done. Believe me!” So, I told God, “Yes, it’s the desire of my heart to have a husband and child.” God said, “Then so it shall be. Trust me.” So, I surrendered it all to God and told Him He would have to bring the right one to me and point him out because I was not good at choosing the right man.
As I prepared for my mission in Rwanda, I knew my chances of finding a husband in the youth-oriented mission field of Rwanda was slim and the cultural differences made it seem more improbable. But I always knew God could do anything. So, I came to Rwanda not expecting anything, not looking for anything…just to serve God. I focused on my mission and served people of all ages and ethnicities.
PERSEVERING THE MISSION FIELD: 3rd Year
It’s been 2-1/2 years now and its been tough serving in a foreign country all alone where it’s not common for women to be independent and single. I’ve been taken advantage of and deceived by those thinking that a single “white” female must be wealthy. Most women here live with their parents until they are married, even if they’re beyond their 30’s. And they marry early because they are not expected to be able to take care of themselves. People have played on my missionary compassion and trust, using the cause of God to get favors from me. My heart has been duped and twisted. I came here pretty much on my own, with little organizational support. My heart has been disappointed. It’s been a long journey to persevere and a lot of daily eye-opening experiences. Every day is a prayer of re-affirming that I should stay. I came here by the calling of God to fulfill His vision. Many people don’t understand why I am here, including my family. In fact, my family is starting to think I have abandoned them for a life in Rwanda, not understanding that life here is not something I choose for myself, but for God. I press on for one purpose – Christ. Nevertheless, God keeps me holding on strong. He keeps providing in some way and affirming my stay here. Still, the more and more I was here in Rwanda, it felt less safe to be alone.
After many disappointments and dwindling donations (down to about 5 small donors on and off), I didn’t want to run home just because things are difficult. I believe in God’s provision for my mission needs. So, I began to pray that if God truly wanted me to remain in Rwanda, He would bring me three things: cultural and financial stability and the protection of the husband he had planned for me all my life. I asked that my husband would be a mission partner as God is my life mission. Someone who would be faithful to Him and to me as my husband. I asked God for someone who loves family so we could raise children that I would carry on the mission and serve Him beyond my time and better. I asked to be like Hannah. And I waited patiently, with the strength of God holding me each day.
THE ANSWER TO PRAYERS
Well, God is ever faithful with His promises and the time has come…where I least expected…and so naturally. First, I have a few part-time jobs that allow me to “tentmake” and earn some funds for a modest living. Secondly, now I have a very special person in my life and WE ARE ENGAGED. His name is Jean-Paul and he is from Burundi, but has been living in Rwanda for about 8 years now, serving as a musician in the church. We’ve been friends for almost 2 years now, but this year we got deeper in the relationship and God started to point him out to me. I see God’s hands upon his life. JP loves me more than any man I’ve known on earth. Its like he was perfectly molded for me. He loves the things that are essentially me. We are so connected. He can’t bear to see me unhappy. He feels my every pains and joys. However, God has taught me well. I am not with JP because I need him. I am with him because he is my blessing. I am happier when I am with him. This is yet another answer to prayer and blessing from God. Please pray with us as we explore a future together. We need many many prayers to carry this miracle wedding through, as it is not an easy task for a missionary to afford all the logistics of marriage. My parents are retired so this wedding is on my own.
Jean-Paul is a tremendously gifted guitarist and a four-years staff player in the large church family of Evangelical Restoration Church in Remera. He works diligently for the church alongside his brother who plays bass guitar. JP was born in Bujumbura, Burundi (south of Rwanda) to a family of means, but the plight of war (the same ethnic tribal conflicts as Rwanda) forced his family into poverty. His father took ill and died while he was in primary school. After his father’s death, his mother went into depression and abandoned the family, leaving JP, his older brother, 2 younger brothers and a baby sister to take care of themselves. JP quit secondary school and left Burundi to find work to support the family. JP journeyed to Rwanda alone, where he faced many challenges. However, God was watching over him and used the gift of music to help JP. He was eventually offered a job at Restoration church, a rare opportunity as most churches here do not have a paid staff, especially for music.
JP has told me stories of the war in Burundi that would touch your heart. God has separated JP, having saved him from death by a firing squad, then in surviving Rwanda streets, and finally in placing him with me (another one He has separated). I can only think that God is creating something bigger in uniting us.
JP’s talent on the guitar is truly a gift from God. I’ve known a lot of musicians in my days, but I have seen few guitarists pick up styles as fast and naturally as JP. He plays many styles, but we both are drawn to blues and jazz, which is his strongest. We are hoping to make a demo and get him a record contract one day with a record company in the USA to help support our family and ministry and to share this gift with the world.
I met Jean-Paul February 2008 when I hired him for a concert that I was organizing and promoting for a local artist. He says I stood out in his heart immediately. Since then, he has been a good friend who comes to my house for dinners, movies, and music theory lessons. I didn’t know it, but something inside me wanted to be around JP. I invited him to minister with me at times to children and he was always willing and able. I didn’t know that he was already in love with me. As time went on, we talked more and more about family and marriage and finally he told me how he felt and the rest is history.
At first, the thought of marrying, and a foreigner at that, terrified me because I had been wrong many times before. How do I know this guy won’t turn around and stab me in the back, like I had experienced many times before? However, God has taught me two important things in this last year…first, you don’t choose who you love, but you can choose who you spend your life with. Making lists of the perfect man or woman is pointless. When it happens, it happens. Our hearts can love the wrong person, but when it’s the right one, everything will feel just right. You can choose who is the right one to spend your life with. Secondly, God has taught me that it’s not easy to trust anyone so you must ultimately trust Him, knowing that he knows when you are going to make a mistake and he makes all things work out in the end for your good. So, I laid everything at the altar with God and He told me to just be honest with JP and let him stand the test. So, I laid every fear and concern on the table and we discussed them all….and JP still loves me. He is not after anything except my love. He says “it’s true love” and “we are one.” And he means it. I have put him through a lot to get him to understand my complicated life in this mission field and even at home. He never lets me walk away if he senses things are not well. He has true concern for me. I can only believe that this is the man that God has picked out for me all my life. He’s not perfect, but he’s perfectly made for me.
THE WEDDING DREAM
As the modest yet beautiful diamond ring sits on my finger, it reminds me not only of our promise to marry each other but also of God’s fulfilled promise to me. We are so much in love and eager to begin our lives together. My dream wedding is to go home to Houston to marry amongst my friends and family. We are hoping to marry in US early 2010 and afterwards return to Rwanda for 2-3 years to finish the mission. We have thought long and hard about this because my family and friends are in the US and JP’s family and friends are in Rwanda/Burundi. Since we are returning here to live for a few years it would be nice for my family and friends to witness this important rite of passage in my life. Plus, it would be a dream-come-true for me to have my family and friends witness the miraculous testimony of my life and rekindle the fire for the mission of Urukundo for the Children, Inc..
WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?
I continue to work my multiple jobs to keep up with living expenses.
I have a part-time job back in advertising. I spend half time Creative Directing and Studio Managing at Creaxion, an Ogilvy Worldwide affiliate. So, my mornings are spent coaching the creative team and meeting with clients to fulfill major advertising campaigns for print, billboards, TV, radio, etc. I am learning about how business works in Rwanda and how the consumer market thinks.
Meanwhile, God is working on consolidating the work to even combine ministry with full time paid employment. Keep praying about this. I also try to find time to also share Christ with the youth by developing a children’s Bible Study program and training volunteer teachers. I also have some groups of young people that I visit with to worship, teach and fellowship in Christ. Funds are low so the means to travel out for ministry is limited right now, but I have faith this will change. Things in Rwanda stay very unpredictable. I just go day by day and pray for protection and grace.
I am also juggling a distance learning class for my Dallas Theological Seminary Master Degree through a scholarship from Inspire Women. Right now I am studying church administrative leadership. Pray for me to finish my readings and papers.
I just praise God for always hearing my cries and tending to my needs. I praise God for his wonderful rewards. This is a love story about God’s love for me. His love is so sufficient and abundant, but He loves me so much more that He even gives me the overflowing love of Jean-Paul in my life. God wants me to even be happy on earth, and then supremely happy with Him in Heaven. I have done nothing to deserve this. And I trust that He will bring all the provisions to make this marriage happen and finish the mission. And I trust that JP is not only my husband, but the next step in this mission on earth. Thank you, Lord!
CHRISTIAN ALERT! [PLEASE READ]
On April 7, 2004 The New York Times reported, "When 800,000 of their countrymen were killed in massacres that began 10 years ago this week, many Rwandans lost faith not only in their government but in their religion as well. Today, in what is still a predominantly Catholic country, Islam is the fastest growing religion. Roman Catholicism has been the dominant faith in Rwanda for more than a century. But many people, disgusted by the role that some priests and nuns played in the killing frenzy, have shunned organized religion altogether, and many more have turned to Islam...The Muslim community now boasts so many converts that it has had to embark on a crash campaign to build new mosques to accommodate all of the faithful. About 500 mosques are scattered throughout Rwanda, about double the number that existed a decade ago. Although no accurate census has been done, Muslims leaders in Rwanda estimate that they have about a million followers, or about 15 percent of the population. That, too, would represent a doubling of their numbers in the past 10 years."
My fellow Christian friends, with all the missionaries here in this country, how can this be? I have to ask my self this. Is it true? Well, from what I see, it very well could be true. There are many more well developed and united mosques and Muslim schools around. I hear the chanting prayers from these mosques constantly. I hear many stories of Christian organizations dividing rather than uniting. Is it that we have less passion or power for our King than Islam has for theirs? From what I see, Christians are working separately, while Islam is united. Please share this and urge people to help me build the Kingdom of Christ by supporting Urukundo for the Children to build new Christian leaders in the children of Rwanda. I know my God is most powerful and there are Christians in the world with the utmost passion for spreading the Kingdom of Christ. Let’s wake up from our daily life comforts or challenges. Let’s get serious, just as Christ was serious for us on the cross.
THANK YOU ALL!
I thank God for all your love and support over the years even before I came to Rwanda. My life has been quite a testimony to God’s complete Grace. I pray for you that you too are embracing all that God wants for you. Please continue to pray for this mission and for this marriage. I hope to see you all at the wedding. I will announce when it will be as soon as we have funds and arrangements made. God be with you and shine his face upon you.
Love in Christ Jesus,
* For answered prayer
* For His provisions in “tentmaking”
* For Jean-Paul and his health
* Provisions to marry in the US
* All my USA supporters
* Stability and peace in my housing and all situations in Rwanda
* Protection for me and Jean-Paul and our families/friends
* Jean-Paul’s health and healing from diabetes
* 501c3 for Urukundo for the Children
* Board Meeting for Urukundo for the Children
* my family in US
* Job/Tentmaking stability
* Provisions and arrangements to marry in the US soon
* Jean-Paul’s visa
PLEASE ADVOCATE FOR THE CHRIST & FOR THE CHILDREN
I need your help to raise funds to build what God has called me here to build for Him. Gather friends to sponsor lunches, bike rides, run/walks, picnics, bake sales, lemonade stands or concerts for the cause of God’s ministry in Rwanda, to build Christ Is Our Hope School Community Rwanda, a center of hope and God’s blessings, to raise new leaders. 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.
TO DONATE TO THIS MISSION, PLEASE SEND CHECKS PAYABLE TO:
Urukundo for the Children (501c3 pending)
4020 Blue Bonnet Blvd., Unit G
Houston, Texas 77025
Attn: Beth Richards
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