March 5, 2015

Perspectives on Rwanda, Part 1

Editor's Note: Today I present another letter from my friend who gives up so much to serve the children of Rwanda. She is a single woman of 70 years old who continues to amaze me with her vibrant life for the sake of Jesus and all that matters to Him. Don't ever say you are too old (or too "anything") to be used by God.
All He wants is a willing heart.

It had been two years since I stepped foot in Rwanda when I arrived on September 12, 2014 for a 61/2 week stay.  I had come to experience first-hand the day-to-day “business” of Hearts for the World International (HFTWI), to see the incredible changes that had occurred since I had been there with the HFTWI ministry team in 2012, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, teach English at Kamate Parent Primary School and see my sponsored children and their families, if possible, to represent HFTWI at the First Generation Vocational School’s 4th graduation of tailoring students and the 1st for beauty school graduates, to begin to learn Kinyarwanda, and for whatever else God and Pastor Stephen had in store. 

This was the longest period of time I would be in Rwanda and I wanted to see how that might figure into the possibility of longer-term missions for me, if that might be the call that God had on my life.  I had traveled solo to Rwanda before, in 2011 for 21/2 weeks to learn much more about orphanages and stayed with Pastor Stephen and his wife, Grace, and their boys at that time.  Once again they graciously opened their home to me for the duration of my visit.

I had a fantastic mountain-top week in Kamate, preaching at the new and thriving church there and teaching three classes of English each day covering every grade at least once.  What a joy to be with the students and to see them thriving, eager to learn, with an expectant “can do” attitude.  I attribute these qualities to a stellar group of teachers and staff, most of whom I had not met previously.  They are professional, competent and committed to their students.  I was very impressed with them and with the head master and assistant head master, who also assume teaching duties.  In the evenings we had unforgettable times of fellowship and I pray we see them all back again this year.  I also had a Kinyarwanda lesson each evening taught by the best Kinyarwanda teacher in the country, who happens to teach our students, too.

The school looks fantastic, all bricked in with windows and doors, newly refurbished walls and floors where needed, ready for a new year.  A new, larger, and more solidly-built latrine also has been added.  Kamate Parent Primary School will now be added to the official map of all schools in Rwanda, too.
It is so heartening to see the effects of student sponsorships, the bread and butter of HFTWI, on students, their families, and the community.  I started sponsoring two children in the same family two years ago, a family without hope living in absolute destitution.  With a little extra help, they are totally changed, love the Lord, have hope for their own and their children’s future. Words cannot do justice to the investment Pastor Stephen and the other pastors and teachers make in these children’s lives.

Kamate’s Needs for 2015.  The government is requiring French be taught again, so new teachers will be needed and at least one additional classroom, as well as added dorm space and renovation of the teachers’ dorms.  There will be an ongoing need for additional sponsors since new students are starting this year and many current students still need sponsors.

My time at Zaza, at the First Generation Vocational School, was rich.  I had an opportunity to address all the graduates on behalf of all of you who comprise HFTWI.  Not only was it graduation time, but a crusade followed the ceremony, with baptism and another crusade the following day.  Many new believers were added to the kingdom and Zaza’s First Generation Church was filled to overflowing on Sunday. There also was a wonderful and fruitful time for meaningful conversation with many of the pastors that were there for the various events.  Evangelist Emmanuel was my interpreter and shepherd, and I developed an even greater love and appreciation for him and his family.

Zaza’s Needs for 2015-2016. Ideally two, but at the minimum one classroom is needed to better accommodate the beauty school and to add a third vocation in the not-too-distant future, most likely brick-making, but welding is on the back burner for a later date.  A few sponsors are still needed for the tailoring class of 2015, for the new class starting this year and graduating in 2016, as well as for the beauty school students.  Just as each tailoring student graduates with a sewing machine, at the minimum, we want to be sure that each beauty school student graduates with the essential tools for his or her vocation. 

Thanks to my church, I was able to bring in 60 solar lights for Kamate families that didn’t yet have them, first aid supplies for the primary and vocational schools, and additional funds to be used for Zaza’s graduation ceremony, which was so special.

Pastor Stephen and his family are amazing people and I appreciate them so much.  It is not easy to have someone from another culture stay in your home for an extended period of time, and they did so much to make my stay as comfortable as they could. I must admit, and they will, too, that I was not always the most pleasant person to have around, as I faced some challenges I had not faced on previous stays and struggled with the fact that I struggled. However, that’s for another newsletter, perhaps.   I thoroughly enjoyed my times with Sedrick, Bush, and Joseph, our talks and walks, our prayer times, and play times.

What is far more important is that Stephen works more than full-time for the Lord as a pastor who mentors many younger pastors and oversees multiple churches, for Chosen Generation Ministries / HFTWI with its myriad parts and responsibilities, and as a husband and father of four sons.  It became very apparent as I traveled with him and through our many conversations that it is humanly impossible to do it all without cost to person(s) and/or projects.  He is exceedingly competent, a remarkable visionary, and at the same time, a humble man and very human.

Pastor Stephen’s Needs for 2015. Ideally, Stephen would benefit greatly by having a project manager or assistant to work with him. At the minimum he needs a very competent secretary to take care of the everyday multiple administrative tasks, to ensure smooth functioning.

It is amazing to see all that God has accomplished through his servants, whose ears are attuned to him and whose hearts are joined with him in providing assistance to those in great need.  In only seven years God has immeasurably changed lives and communities in Rwanda far more abundantly than many of us could have imagined, and all to God’s glory. 

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