Honoring Teachers in Rwanda

Every month Rwanda Faith Academy (RFA) hosts a community meeting for the staff to talk about different subject matters to strengthen families and the community. The October meeting was led by Emmanuel, School Head Master, conducting a conversation and asking the attendees to participate in a discussion regarding resolving family conflict. A lively discussion occurred in hopes that put an end would to families coming apart at the seams and to turn around the numbers of children leaving home and living on the streets. Thank-you Teachers, and staff for caring for our students in and out of the classroom.

International Teacher Day was celebrated at Rwanda Faith Academy on October 5th. The teachers were honored with new uniforms. RFA school administration arranged the sector level celebration to commend the teachers’ hard work and dedication to their students to raise up the dignity of all teachers. We are proud of our Teachers and staff in their total caring for the student body that attends RFA. That care does not stop with the student alone but extends to their family and community at large. The success of the family/community education program bares this out. And the program would not exist or be possible without our dedicated teachers and staff. And this speaks to the continued success of RFA overall program bringing commendations to the school

Classroom work continues to prepare the students for their National Exams next month. Midterm exams were executed over three days to evaluate student skill levels and direct the revision classes to prepare for the critical National Exams. RFA teachers and staff work together to review the midterms and put down the curriculum for their students every success. Our past National Exam scores show our 95-98% passing, and we strive to see 100% of our students passing this year. In Rwanda, students must pass the National Exam to move on to the next grade level.

RFA teachers and staff want to express their gratefulness to the USA team and USA partners for your prayers and resources. The unity in the teamwork has made the vision of the school to provide excellence in the delivery of quality education a reality. The teachers and staff share much joy and peace as they are confident in God’s leading for the next stage, and they are excited to see what God is doing at Rwanda Faith Academy. So Thank-you!

Prayer Requests:
Preparations for the National Exams
A community center on the RFA campus for multipurpose use
As the school wines down the 2019 school year, good rest for Teachers, Staff, and Students during the Holiday Break

Kairos- God is Moving

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing[a] on the earth. 25 The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”  Isaiah 19:23-25 (NIV)

We set out Friday morning for Beirut, but our missionaries warned us not to come because of public rioting. We flew over most of Europe with two connections as God didn’t just change our plans; He wrecked them. It’s a humbling lesson in who is in charge and whose mission this is anyway.We finally got off the plane in Athens 23 hours after our departure from Seattle.

The first stop was Areopagus, a smoothed rock formation in a grove of olive trees and at the base of the Acropolis. Paul addressed the crowds in Acts 17 here. What a blessing to worship at a nearby Afghan church, started by and ministering to refugees. After the service, we met privately with the local missionaries who shared how they are raising up Christian refugee leaders to lead the new believers. These people are on the front lines! Praying over them brought tears to many of us.
At an Iranian Evangelical Church, we met privately with an Iranian refugee in Greece illegally and homeless living outside an Orthodox church for nearly 20 years. An intelligent carpenter who speaks numerous languages, he described a dangerous life on the streets, with no help from the government. He is angry, hopeless, and not a believer, pushing back hard on the value of prayer to have any impact on his life. We left him with broken hearts, wondering what we could do to help him. We stopped on the sidewalk and prayed for him.

The evening found us in Victoria Square, a destination for many refugees when they first arrive. Previously, it was filled with refugees sleeping and living in the park. Now, police are present because human trafficking is happening, mostly of young boys. Refugees linger there, with nothing else to do but wait the three year period for their paperwork to go through.

The next day, we faced the reality that it is not safe for us to go to Beirut, so we asked God to show his plan for us here in Athens. He provided a “chance” meeting with a refugee from Iran who lost literally everything to follow Christ and an inspiring time with the leader of a flourishing nonprofit that serves thousands of refugees and sees God show up daily to perform amazing miracles. We left with the overwhelming and unmistakable feeling that we had been on holy ground.

At Good Samaritan the next day, we spent time with the children of mothers classes learning English and other skills. A welcoming place for women and children refugees (Iranians, Afghans, Syrians, and Africans) providing various services. Many of the children loved conversing in very good English and taking photos with us. We prayed for an Iranian employee who shared his heartbreaking and astonishing story. We laid hands on him for protection, safety, and his strength while he brings others to Christ. The prayers coming out of our team members were straight from God. He started to shake and dropped to his knees as the Holy Spirit filled this man up along with us and the room we were in.

The following day, we traveled about an hour outside of Athens to help our host lead the conference teaching the biblical view of marriage and parenting to mostly Iranian refugees, knowing that they have in many different cultural practices. In our free time, the men and women played a lively game of dodgeball. This was something that would never happen in Iran, our mission partner told us. Amazing things happen when the Holy Spirit is at work, and we respond to the guidance given.
The heartache from more stories of the pain of being a refugee separated from parents and other relatives and not having the dignity of caring for their families well themselves. Many are still separated from wives and children. Please pray for the Lord of us all to continue revealing himself to them in any way he pleases to do so.

God is on full display in Rwanda

It has been nearly a year and a half since my two-week stay in Rwanda. There’s no doubt it was transformative and life-changing. When time allows distance from an impactful experience, I can discern more keenly what God was doing with me and the lasting transformation He has brought into my life through that experience.

Reflecting on what it meant to join BelPres’ mission team to Rwanda, three primary emphases struck me. First, top of mind, are the people I developed friendships within Rwanda. As an example, Jado – our cook at the AEE guest house – caringly provided delicious food daily and authentically was interested and concerned for what we did and who we are.

Along with so many others, Jado embodies the second emphasis – the relentless commitment of hospitality displayed by our hosts. Sharing a meal in a community leader’s home, being welcomed into a traditional village celebration, we were always esteemed with respect and honor. At times, I was a bit uncomfortable, perhaps feeling not deserving. It reflected the open hearts of a people whose chief commitment is to love God and all neighbors.

My final reflection about my mission experience: God is on full display in Rwanda. Everywhere you turn, people demonstrate their obvious affection for Jesus. All ages dance in joy, sing with strength, and live their commitments to Christ publicly – a stark contrast to a passive reserve that shrouds our faith in America. Forever changed by Rwanda, I continuously pray that God will provide more: more sustainable support for the youth of Rwanda, more hospitality and expressiveness in my faith, and more opportunities for our community to travel to Rwanda to experience firsthand the love of God through the global mission.

Quenching Thirst in Haiti

Haiti is an island country of friendly faces and many needs. Organization for Integrated Rural Development for Northwest Haiti (ODRINO) has two central ministries in Haiti. First is helping spread the Gospel and supporting the churches in spreading the Gospel. One of the main ways we do this to support the programs of local churches in our area. It can include helping them with evangelism, church planting, Chrisitan elementary education, discipleship, VBS and sports camps, or encouragement.

The other main track of ODRINO is supporting local churches to respond to the overwhelming physical needs in the church and around them. We do this by helping with church and school construction, drinking water projects, irrigation and agriculture, and other community development type projects.

Our ministry is also involved in immediate disaster response and long-term recovery efforts following natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. At the moment we are in the midst of the worst drought since 1992.

Over fifteen years, we helped the churches at Poste Metier and Baie des Moustiques build a gravity drinking water system. This water system has over 40 miles of pipe and serves from 12,000 to 15,000 people depending on rainfall and the time of the year. The water system relies on the participation of the people who use the water. A small yearly contribution to help pay for fittings and repair materials and volunteer labor when digging is necessary is how the people maintain it. The initial part of the water system started operating in 1992. This water system has delivered over two billion gallons of clean, safe drinking water.

Each year the water system has a general assembly. All the people who use the water expansion, and issues are discussed, and the Gospel is shared. We provide Bibles and hymnals for door prizes. For a lot of people who are struggling to get enough to eat for their families, this is the only way they have to get one of these precious books.

Thank you for your support and prayers for the people of Haiti.

Being Good Neighbors in Japan

In the late ’80s, Peter and Wendi Thomson were called to serve as missionaries in Japan. Sent out by BelPres, other congregations, and believers who understand the value of incarnational ministry (living out Christ in front of others), they are passionate about seeing lives transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. God’s modus operandi, as seen in John 1:14, talks of Christ coming to Earth to provide salvation and restitution: “Jesus became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” How incredible! Likewise, the Thomson’s have “moved into the neighborhood” in Japan and here are two stories of loving where they are.

Recently, while working through the gospel of Mark, their church fellowship discussed repentance. Recognizing that neither the Japanese nor the English word for repentance adequately conveys the Biblical meaning (which is to turn and face God), Peter stood and physically demonstrated turning 180 degrees in order to come face-to-face with God. Only by looking at God and acknowledging that salvation is fully His work, do we receive both recognition of sin and forgiveness. This resonated strongly with Mrs. F, a young mother with children in their English program, recently coming to the fellowship. Wendi meets with her regularly to read the Bible and pray. The day after the discussion of repentance, Mrs. F was researching the meaning of her first name. By breaking down the characters, she discovered the meaning to be a person holding out their hand to receive help from God! Mrs. F shared that, throughout her life, she has found it difficult to rely on people for help, and this has been a barrier for her faith in God. Learning the concept of turning toward God, coupled with discovering that God ordained her name when she was born, has warmed her heart to receive Jesus more.

The Thomson’s vision in Sanda is to create kingdom communities among existing communities. What does this mean? Simply, taking the Church to people and seeing society transformed. Though they have been in Japan for over 30 years, God always surprises with what He does. This school year, Peter was approached by the PTA of their son’s high school to become the PTA president. “What! Are you crazy?! You want a foreigner to head up the PTA of a Japanese high school?” Peter was honored to be nominated but knew it was a very time-consuming position. While wishing to serve the students, parents, and teachers, Peter felt he should decline. However, every couple of weeks, there were persistent phone calls asking him to reconsider. After further declines and much-continued prayer, the Thomson’s finally realized that Jesus himself was the one asking! Amazing doors have opened! They meet regularly with the principal and administration, are connecting with other school leaders and have a whole new relationship with students and families at the school. Serving in this capacity has allowed deeper influence for Christ in previously untouched communities and to love where they are.

Thank you for praying for the people of Japan!

Music on a Mission

 

During a mission trip to Rwanda in 2018, Frank St Peter shared photos and videos of New Hope Worship Team leading Sunday worship with our Rwandan friends. They were overjoyed to see the team singing and praising God in Kinyarwandan. As friends looked closer, the repeated comment was, “You know Adrien Misagara and Gentil Mis?” We continued to hear this throughout our trip.
It turns out that Adrien and Gentil are the top Gospel recording artists in Rwanda. Who knew? The students at Rwanda Faith Academy(RFA) did and were so excited, and asked us if Gentil and Adrien can come to their school. Frank shared this with Gentil and Adrien who were excited to hear that their music had touched the students and staff.
This February, Adrien called Julie St Peter to contact the Headmaster at RFA to get permission to visit the campus. He and Gentil were headed to Rwanda on tour in March and Adrien wanted to include RFA during his tour of Rwanda. Julie was only too happy to do so and contacted Emmanuel, the Headmaster right away. His enthusiastic “Yes” was shared with Adrien within hours. Adrien shared that Evan Jarrell, BelPres Director of Modern Worship, was also coming on their tour, this was exciting news!
When Adrien and Evan stepped onto the RFA campus in March, the students and staff gave them an enthusiastic welcome. The entire student body and teachers greeted them at the entrance to the school and walked with them to the assembly area. Adrien started with songs that were popular in Rwanda, and the students sang along. This filled Adrien with joy. He then introduced Evan, who began by teaching them a Kinyarwandan song he wrote. The students clapped and sang along with Evan, then Adrien joined in. It was a time of great warmth and friendship for all.
Headmaster Emmanuel shared his gratefulness to God for guiding both artists to RFA and thanked for their hearts to RFA. He expressed his appreciation for Alexis Ruhumuriza and all the supporters in America for their efforts to prepare this day of song and praise to God.
One of the teachers expressed Adrien and Evan had “crowned the day,” but he was short on words to express the emotions of the staff for all the joy brought by Adrien and Evan’s visit. One male student said he hoped that God would make way for them to return and give a full concert on the RFA campus. One female student told me she appreciated the visitors and thanked the friends of RFA in America who made this possible.
Adrien and Evan shared with me that the day at RFA was a highlight among many memories of their time in Rwanda. They were grateful for the time to be with students and staff and share a time of worship and praise to God through music.
It was a day our students and staff with not soon forget!

KidREACH Connections

Meet Miabella, Fifolu, Margaret, and Beth!

Fifolu and Beth are tutors who make a profound difference in the lives of their students. Neither has an educational background, but both have a heart for children and find tutoring to be very rewarding.

Summers are particularly hard for students who struggle academically. As early as Grade 1, summer learning loss can be recognized. By the end of grade 6; students who have experienced summer learning loss over the years, are an average of two years behind their peers.

This is especially true for the children of parents whose first language is other than English. Learning a new language (ELL) impacts more than a person’s language skills and vocabulary – if they can’t read the directions, how can they succeed in math?  Fifolu and Beth help level the playing field for Miabella and Margaret.

Thanks to Fifolu, Miabella, a delightful second grader is catching up. Children often come to BelPres KidREACH feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, but by the time they are in High School, many students qualify for Advanced Placement courses. Giving hope to Miabella inspires her whole family. Her mother just completed her High School Diploma and is now in college taking bookkeeping courses. Miabella’s sister is also a KidREACH alumnus. She is currently a successful college graduate, working as a bookkeeper.

Fifolu is not only a tutor; she is a role model. She takes her own grades seriously and has helped inspire Miabella to love learning, especially reading. Miabella also feels loved and supported. She looks forward to tutoring each week and works hard.

Margaret and Beth have also built a secure connection this year. Margaret, also a second grader, is a delight. Her parents say tutoring is the highlight of her week. She loves Beth and can hardly wait to see her.

Both families are immigrants, and neither family could afford to pay for a tutor. They speak highly of this ministry’s effectiveness. This is true for all the families we minister to by KidREACH. Most families at BelPres KidREACH are immigrants from countries such as Rwanda, Congo, Guatemala, Mexico, Ukraine, and more. They enroll their children in the KidREACH Summer Tutoring because they know it helps level the playing field. It is also a powerful way of bringing about social justice and racial reconciliation.

Make a profound difference in the life of a child – be a Summer Tutor.

Interested in being a Summer Tutor? Teaching background is not necessary; all you need is a heart for children and a desire to give a child hope for a better life. Curriculum and support are provided. Summer Tutoring is for 4 weeks on Thursdays from 6pm-8pm. The dates are July 18, July 25, August 1 and August 8. Get additional information, contact: belpresserve@belpres.org

Jesus For All

She sat across the table from me, her young sons flanking her, one on her left and one on her right. Seven days earlier they had given everything they had left to a man in Turkey to take them to Athens. The journey took them through the forest, along a muddy path by the river, evading fences, wild animals and border guards. They traveled at night and hid during the day. On the fourth day, they ran out of food. On the seventh day, they arrived in Athens, cold, wet, dirty, hungry and with no possessions. She had no one to turn to for help and no place to go. But then someone told her about a church, which was helping refugees, so she went there. They welcomed her and found her a place to stay in an old unheated building. Now she was sitting across from me to receive a free meal. I, along with a small team from

Seattle, had come to serve her and the nearly one hundred other refugees who were there that day. As she told me her story, her hands shook uncontrollably. She didn’t know if it was the cold weather or the trauma she had been through which caused the shaking.

Her story was that after a few years of marriage, her husband began to beat her regularly. Several times he made arrangements to loan her to his friends for a price. Finally, she had enough. She got brave and divorced him. At first, he didn’t want anything to do with her or the boys. So he gave them to her. But then he changed his mind and asked his friends to help him kill her. So she fled and left her country out of fear for her life. First, she went to Turkey. But when they told her they were going to send her back, she found the man who took her to Athens. “Today,” she said, “I am going to apply for my papers from the government.” These papers would allow her boys to go to school in Athens and permit her to work. But documents like this, she lamented, could take several months and sometimes up to a year to receive. After we ate, I gathered our group around her and prayed for her and her boys. Then she left.

The next day, we came again to serve meals. There she was, sitting at a different table, a big beautiful smile foretelling the announcement she was about to make. She had received her papers! But Jesus goodness and love was not unnoticed. Her oldest son explained that the reason why this happened was that we had prayed to our God! And like so many Muslims before them, who have fled their countries in the Middle East, this mother and her two boys eventually committed their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Two months later, the pastor of the church we served in baptized them.

We are living in unprecedented times. We see the most significant turning of Muslims to faith in Christ since the birth of Islam. Coincidentally, Christians have been praying for Muslims to encounter the Risen Christ for over 30 years. Today’s movements are fueled by three decades of faithful prayers.

I am telling you this because May 6 marks the beginning of Ramadan for our Muslim neighbors and continues through June 4. Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims. I want to invite you to join with Christians all over the world in praying for them and using something called the “Muslim World Prayer Guide” to help you. The Prayer Guide will introduce you to specific Muslim people and places where they live, like Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey, and Sudan. You will read the stories of Muslims who have encountered Jesus and learn specific things to pray for during this holy month. You can pick up a copy of the “Muslim World Prayer Guide” in the lobby today or download a PDF version at www.30daysprayer.com. Join the movement.