New Hope at New Hope Revival

God is doing many things in my life. He is keeping me strong and teaching me to trust him every day. My family has great hope every day. We have many blessings and have made many friends. We already have a big family in the US. People have come from Texas, Maine, and Utah—for various reasons like climate or the need to connect with other East Africans. And then, they connect with me and have started coming to New Hope Revival. Others have come because they know the earlier arrivals. Often when such people come, they stay in my home until we can connect them with others in same situations, or find them places to stay. I am problem solving, helping new people find jobs, places to live—this is an everyday ministry, to do whatever people need. So my East Africa “family” is becoming connected in the Seattle area through New Hope Revival Church.

At New Hope Revival, God is doing many things. People are more regular in their attendance. People used to come at 11:30 for an 11am start, but now they have learned that it is important to be on time. The church is the connection point for people as far apart as Tukwila, Shoreline, Auburn, Kent, and Everett. We have been blessed with a van from Auto Angels. One of our members keeps the car for her use unless it is needed for transport for the New Hope Revival. On Sundays, our new driver Guillaume picks up members to bring them to church. We are so thankful to BelPres and Auto Angels for this gift!

When we started the church, we were in one small room. While the worship team practiced, I kept the children in our new space and we had problems with children behaving poorly.  Our children had discipline issues because they were not used to the Sunday School schedule. With the help of BelPres Family Life Ministry team, this problem is solved. Now we have been given a beautiful new space for our services, UC 106, and we got really good advice and help from teachers Lisa and Laura, so the children now go to Sunday school happy every week.

New Hope Revival is a “baby church” within BelPres church. So we are blessed to have encouragement and participation our “parents”. They have welcomed us from the beginning, and they are watching over us to see what God is doing to grow our ministry. We have our own executive committee which helps plan and guide the church’s activities, we have a strong worship team, and we have involved many members with special responsibilities, so they feel they are a part of the church.

Since our beginning, every week we see new changes. We have a gifted team leader, Edgard, who came from Texas to help us with our music program. We were blessed by Seattle Presbytery to buy instruments. And, most importantly, the team has moved from a performance attitude to a worship attitude. They are taking time to practice, before and after services, even with many family commitments.

The people who attend NHR include not only Rwandese, but some from Kenya, Congo, and Burundi. Also, we often welcome people from BelPres. Our Executive Pastor, Annie Duncan, blessed us last month with a good retelling of the story of the two births from the Gospel of Luke. Several people came to ask me afterward to invite her to come again.

In November, our preaching focused on the importance of giving, and not on money as a goal in itself. People are beginning to look around to see how they can help meet each other’s needs. Also, people are bringing their used items to donate to Jubilee Reach.

I am still involved with Hope for Children Ministries in Rwanda, and have developed a US-based advisory team. We changed the name for this project in the US to Rwanda Faith Academy(RFA). All funds we collect through RFA will be wired directly to Hope for Children in Rwanda, to help build necessary classrooms and pay teachers’ salaries. I have put in place a strong board to oversee the work there.  They are in regular contact with me and report on everything the ministry is doing.

I am so blessed to have Mom Jean in my life. She helps in different ways, for many things:  in ministry, church, and my life each and every day. She explains, gives me clarity, and I am glad to be with her.

To contact Pastor Alexis Ruhumuriza, please email:  aruhumuriza@belpres.org

 

King County Youth Chaplaincy: I Have Hope Now

Gangbangers. Growing up, they were all around me and all I knew. All my “role models” were gangsters. There was no one who was positive. I love my parents, but they weren’t really there for me. So I followed the only people that I looked up to, right into gang life. I was 14 when I got jumped in. It was all bad from there, and I eventually got locked up.

In juvy, I felt like I lost everything. I had nothing—no money, no possessions, no homies. Nobody had my back. I didn’t even have hope… or God.

I went to church in juvy, just to check it out. I was surprised that I liked it. The speakers had good things to say, and it made me think more about my life and future. Some of the guys in my hall said good things about seeing the chaplains, but I thought that wasn’t for me. I’m not gonna share my life with a complete stranger.

One of the guys kept telling me about talking to a chaplain, so I decided to talk to Chaplain Jon. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was cool. At first, I didn’t really want to open up too much. But after a while, I felt God was in it, and it was real talk. It was good to have someone to talk to and help keep my mind positive. In juvy, you’re surrounded by so much negativity, guys always talking about their gangs, beefs with rivals, alcohol, weed, hitting licks, and other negative things. So it was really good to have someone positive around.

I felt myself starting to change. My faith was growing. I always believed in God, but I was distracted by other things. I felt closer to God. I started to help the other guys in my hall. When one of my guys was about to fight one of his rivals, I helped talk him out of it. Chaplain Jon said I was a peacemaker and showed me a verse from the Bible (Matthew 5:9). So I tried helping the other guys more and more. I tried to keep the peace whenever I could.

I was then sent to Naselle to serve out the rest of my sentence. There were ups and downs there, but I still saw myself as a peacemaker. It was helpful when Chaplain Jon came to visit me. It was good to see him again. As my release date got closer, we stayed in touch because I wanted to stay in a positive direction when I got out. I knew I had to stay in touch with him.

When I was released, it was really hard to stay away from the streets and gang life. It was a huge temptation, and I sometimes went back to the homies and my old ways. One day, I asked myself, “What am I doing?” I realized that I was only hurting myself and others, and I couldn’t do this anymore. I knew that God was speaking to me. I knew I couldn’t keep going in that direction.

Now, I don’t go to the block, and I don’t hang out with the homies. I work and earn my money the right way. I get together with Chaplain Jon at least once a week, and I’ve been speaking at different churches, sharing my story. I like this because I want to help people. This is what I want to do in my future. I don’t know exactly what kind of job I want, but I know I want to help people. I don’t want others to go through what I’ve been through. I want people to know there’s hope.

I have hope now and I have hope for my future. God has blessed me.

If you would like more information on how to get involved with King County Youth Chaplaincy, contact Chaplain Jon Abe at: jabe@urbanimpactseattle.org

Letter from the Editor

It’s September 30, and my to-do list for the day doesn’t match the early fall weather outside.

  • Create Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day web events
  • Reach out to M+W about slide backgrounds for Christmas and New Year’s
  • Begin scheduling for Christmas Eve shows

And on the list goes.

When people ask me about my job here at BelPres I often say that I live at least a week in the future, but more often it’s at least a month or two in the future. And at no time is this truer than during Advent and Christmas. (more…)

God Is with Us

2016 HAS BEEN A TOUGH YEAR, FULL OF BAD NEWS AND WORSE NEWS.

In my family, it’s been a year of scary diagnoses, job loss, and transition. I’ve spent much of the year walking alongside dear friends who have lost spouses, parents, and children. Our country has undergone one of the most divisive and antagonistic elections in modern times, all while murders and violence are rising. We are entering another era of Civil Rights as the ugly underbelly of race relations is exposed. People around the world are consistently terrorized–murdered, kidnapped, and raped–by extremist militias determined to destroy democracy. People are fleeing terror in their homelands and engorging the refugee systems of countries all over the world. People are angry, bitter, frustrated–and it spills out on social media and in the news on a daily basis. (more…)

The Joy of Not Having

I’m glad God doesn’t always give me what I want. Many of the greatest blessings in my life are things that did not seem like blessings at the time.

For instance, I am thankful that I was raised in a family where we didn’t have a lot of money. A family where we had to have conversations such as “who gets a bike this year” or “who most needs braces,” because we could not afford those things for everyone. (And because of that I never had to have braces–surely a blessing in disguise!) At times it was disappointing not to have many of the things other families had, but because we didn’t have a lot, I have always appreciated even a little.  New clothes, a cheap chemistry set, a second-hand bike made me feel like the richest kid alive, and that sense of wonder at even small things has stuck with me into adulthood. We never got to travel much when I was growing up. Because of that, even to this day traveling just about anywhere is exciting to me. I could be going on a business trip to Nebraska and feel a sense of adventure in it.  (more…)

Sneaky, Leaky Advent

“Hi, when’s the Christmas Eve dress rehearsal done?” he asks, matching my steps, and I reply, “I think 10pm. I’ll double check and get back to you.” As I round the corner, she comes out from behind the pillar, saying, “Oh, good, you’re here! I heard Carol Sing starts at 7pm but I’m not off until 7:30pm. Do you think it will still be going and will they have hot chocolate?” I reply, “Absolutely!”

I reach the main office, and Carol, the receptionist, says, “You have a package from Peters,” and I say, “Great!” As I round the first desk, Allison in finance says, “You have the contracts for the orchestra yet?” and I reply, “Yep, have them to you this afternoon!” As I head past the first set of cubicles I hear Sarah, our admin in Music + Worship, say, “Hi, Ella just called, and the bassoonist just moved to Spokane,” so I mutter, “Oh, marvelous.” I unlock my office door as the phone rings. It’s a choir member, who wants to know if I got her email about the Christmas Eve dinner menu and if there are gluten-free choices. I can assure her confidently that yes, there are. Then my Outlook freezes trying to load the 132 emails I got since last evening.

Because it’s December. (more…)

Hope at the Holidays

The holiday season is a particularly challenging time for men who are experiencing homelessness. Festive lights, store windows promoting the perfect gift for loved ones, and the cheery hustle and bustle of people rushing in the brisk air en route to a holiday event—these are all stark reminders of what is missing in the lives of these displaced men. Instead of joy and the warmth of family, a sharp loneliness and despair often settle in. More than any other time of the year, the holiday season places all they have lost in clear contrast with a sense of belonging and stability that might have been.

If you are anything like me, you have struggled with understanding how to respond to the men on our streets who are experiencing homelessness. I am familiar with the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Do I give that man I see on the sidewalk some money? Should I buy a hot meal and hand it to the person I see standing at the corner? Maybe he will use the money for alcohol or drugs. One hot meal from a fast food restaurant feels like a pitiful, and even empty, response to this man’s obvious need for care and community. (more…)

Be The Change

SHOP THE AGM at AGM.BELPRES.ORG

You likely know the phrase, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I recently learned how a group of people at BelPres did exactly that back in the early 1990s.

Tina Freed, a BelPres member, began coordinating with Heifer Project (now Heifer International and no longer a BelPres Mission partner) to bring live animals to the Fellowship Hall of the old church building. Soon she had a team of fellow members: Barney and Marge Reynolds, David and Julie Metz, and Clark Hoffman. I had a conversation with Julie Metz about how all this happened and was delighted to find out that the group embraced a spirit of rebelliousness. Bringing live farm animals into the church? It’s a little hard to imagine, but it actually happened. (more…)

Waiting

Waiting. Something that can be difficult to do. As human beings, waiting can seem like a lifetime, depending on what we are waiting for. For some of us, it may be a phone call to update us on a job interview or something as simple as waiting for dinner. For others, the waiting may be more difficult: for justice, a verdict, a diagnosis, or for our marriage to turn around. Whatever it may be, waiting is something that we have grown unaccustomed to because here in the United States our society conditions us to move in the opposite direction. Everything we build and create is faster, more efficient, and more convenient. If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t like waiting, and to avoid the wait, we end up making poor decisions.

And on top of that, we are expected to wait and prepare for a coming King. How can we do so? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news, we are not the only generation who is impatient; the bad news, it’s not a good excuse to be impatient. (more…)

Behind the Scenes with Kris Bennett

Someone once told me to notice my God moments, because they’re happening.

Well, that someone happens to be our own Kris Bennett. She’s our Behind the Scenes volunteer this month and has a resume of good works to her name! A former elementary school teacher turned nearly full-time volunteer, she’s involved in the Bellevue Farmers Market and serves on the team for Community Outreach at BelPres. She’s taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She’s been an elder, served as a deacon, hosted foreign exchange students, and is a youth leader on Sundays and Wednesdays—and I’m just getting started! (more…)