Monday, November 22, 2010

Report from East Africa #2

Rwanda Stewardship TOT group View from Gitarama, RW
Theophile Rugubira teaching at Gitarama conference

Here is the report I sent while I was in Rwanda in the recent Ocy.-Nov. trip:

My trip to East Africa has continued to be busy and productive since the meetings with the national coordinators and the Ugandan leadership team about which I previously emailed you. Following the meetings in Uganda, I took the bus to Kigali, Rwanda (about a 10 hour ride). We began the next day with an excellent Biblical Stewardship TOT for about 15 participants. The participants were from both Rwanda and Burundi. Lots of spirited discussion and understanding.

Following that, we had a pastors conference for about 60 pastors in Gitarama, RW. Gitarama is a scenic town in the Southern Province. I had never been there before. 1 Tim 1:5, as you may recall, talks about the goal of our instruction being love. That spoke powerfully to the participants. In their small group sessions they clearly identified major deficiencies in their churches, ultimately stemming from a lack of love and failure to as a family (see, 1 Tim 3:15). They resolved to make changes.

At the conference, a pastor from Gitarama (who also had been one of the TOT participants) asked me to preach on the goal of love at his church the next day. I expounded on this, and God did a most marvelous thing. One of the women church leaders went out of the church during the sermon and encountered a poor, older woman whose roof was leaking quite badly (it had been raining a lot for the previous several days). The woman wanted to know where she might get a tent. When the leader came back into the church, I was just saying something about practical ways of showing love, including saying something like, "If your mother's house has a roof that leaks, wouldn't you fix it?" She took that as "prophetic." After the sermon, she came forward, spoke at some length (in Kinyarwanda, so I couldn't understand), about the poor woman she had met. She found the woman and brought her forward. Several people, some of them in tears, came forward. One man pledged 2 iron sheets for her roof. One woman pledged 2 bedsheets. Two women pledged some clothing. Two people pledged 30,000frw (about $55.00) apiece. More than one person mentioned that God had brought this woman to the church as an opportunity to demonstrate love. The pastor also told me that he knew men in the church who could do roofing.

Further, one of the church members identified two other needy women. The woman leader who had begun the process said that she would be identifying other needy people in the church. This was not merely an emotional response, but appears to be the beginning of a process whereby this church will be transformed by love. The pastor told me that he would make sure that this was just the beginning, not the end. The transformative power of Christ, when people really grasp the gospel and its implications, is truly amazing. It was one of the most heartening things I have seen and experienced since coming to Africa. Praise be to God. Please hold up Ebenezer Church of Gitarama, Rwanda, that it would follow through, and be a shining example of Christ, the gospel, and the power of love in action.

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