Saturday, September 24, 2011

Report from Rwanda

Small group discussion during 1 Timothy conference

Theophile & Miriam Rugubira family
Expository Preaching participants

The following was emailed to my friends and supporters from Rwanda at the end of August:

As I write this I am in Rwanda. We had the first-ever Expository Preaching workshop in Kigali, with about 16 participants (some from Burundi and some from Rwanda). What I am trying to convey are some ideas that will make for more effective preaching. These ideas are all new to the participants. Based on the discussions and the critiques of the student preachers, I know that many of the participants understood what we are getting at (I only wish that that understanding had been reflected a little more in the sermons preached by the 2 student preachers {sigh}). However, as I told the participants at the outset, from my experience it will take a minimum of 2 or, ideally, 3 such workshops for everyone to really "get it." We hope to do round 2 of Expository Preaching when I return to Rwanda next January-February.

We then went to the town of Nyamata, about 30 minutes from Kigali. I had been to Nyamata before to visit the genocide memorial site (where 1000s were killed--the bones, clothing, and bloodstains of the victims have been preserved at the site--a very sobering thing to see). The government is planning to relocate the main airport from Kigali to Nyamata, so Nyamata is an important up-and-coming location. We conducted a 1 Timothy conference for about 50 pastors and church leaders. I just received an email from one of the participants, who told me this: "Dear brother in the Lord i really thank you for the teachings you have delivered from nyamata , truly saying i have seen the difference of you and the missionary i work with from SOUTH Africa because you do not hide the truth as them may GOD really bless you . I promise you that i will come back to that way of teaching textual and contextual because I used to do that but people laughed at that." When I hear things like that, it confirms that we are on the right track. Remember: your prayers and financial support are making this possible.

I preached Sunday at the church which had hosted the conference. That seemed to go well, and my friend Theophile requested a copy of the sermon (which I will email to him after I return home). We then returned to Kigali where we had the first Biblical Marriage and Parenting TOT in Rwanda, with about 16 participants (mostly the same people who had been at the Expository Preaching TOT). Marriage issues and problems are pervasive here in East Africa. Each day of the TOT was marked by spirited discussion and debates concerning most aspects of marriage: finances; sex; forgiveness; showing love; living in a grace-based instead of a performance-based relationship; family planning; polygamy, divorce, and other important issues.

All of this points up the huge role the church is called to play. The church has a much more important role than most people (including most Christians and pastors) realize. It is (or should be) the place where people learn basic principles of money management, obtain basic health information, learn relational skills, as well as learn of, come to faith in, and mature in Jesus Christ. If the churches began networking and working together more, they could be a good resource for finding employment. No other institution is quite like the church. Christ, as embodied in the church, is the greatest (and, ultimately, only) hope for the temporal as well as spiritual salvation of East Africa. By God's grace, as the pastors become more and more knowledgeable and equipped, we will see significant strides in all these areas. There are few callings more important, and few areas in the world where this task is more strategic than here in East Africa. Thank you for your part in it.

Tomorrow I take the long bus ride from Kigali to Kampala, Uganda. God bless you, Jonathan

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