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!

The Gift of Milk

Since returning to Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide, First Lady Jeannette Kagame has become devoted to uplifting the lives of the vulnerable population in Rwanda, particularly those of widows, orphans and impoverished families. Because of this work, she helped to establish the Imbuto Foundation, which means “seed” in Kinyarwanda. Among the many areas of need in Rwanda, the foundation has focused on motivating girls to excel in school, providing scholarships to disadvantaged youth, promoting a reading culture, and mentoring and equipping youth with entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

First Lady Jeanette Kagame has also received many awards and appointments for this vital work. In 2009, Mrs. Kagame received the prestigious UNICEF Children’s Champions Award in recognition of her efforts to improve the lives of children in Rwanda. This hardworking and well-loved First Lady of Rwanda also appreciates and recognizes those in Rwanda who are partnering in this effort to uplift impoverished children and families.

In November of 2018, Rwanda Faith Academy received a letter from the office of Jeanette Kagame thanking them for all they are doing to support the next generation of Rwandans. RFA has been diligent in their reporting to the Ministry of Education the number of students enrolled, the consistency of the high scores on the National Exams received by RFA students, and their developing curriculum on practical life skills and good home practices to strengthen the families of RFA students. The teaching staff received recognition this year for excellence in teaching on World Teacher Day. All of these remarkable efforts came to the First Lady’s attention, and she awarded a monthly gift of milk to 444 of the most vulnerable RFA students.

On November 11, 2018, the first gift of milk arrived. The day was festive with much celebration and thanksgiving as the gifted students received and drank the milk. For many of them, it was the first time to drink milk. And the children cheered with glee when told this gift of milk from the First Lady would continue to come each month for the next year. For First Lady Jeanette Kagame, milk has a very special place in her heart; you see, she met her husband, President Paul Kagame, over a glass of milk.

The students, Teachers, staff, and advisory board praise our God for his provision and blessings over Rwanda Faith Academy. We look forward to the start of the 2019 school year and know God will meet all of us on that first day.

A Miracle in Rwanda

God is always moving in Rwanda – so sit down, strap in and hold on!

The 2018 Impact Team kept on the move to learn and share all God wanted to be known. It’s been 6 years since our last visit to Kigali, the capital, it was a visual festival to see Rwanda moving forward in tangible ways; a Convention center, new hotels, tall modern buildings, re-routed traffic for more public spaces. And for the first time, we met tourists: a couple from New York City who had read the NY Times listing the 10 places that were a must to visit in 2018. Rwanda was number 8. This was very telling, as previously, running into humanitarian missionaries or NGO workers was common; running into tourists was not.

Where we saw God most clearly was a ministry started by Gilbert Kubwimana. This faithful young man is following God’s call to help families of disabled children by starting “Love with Actions” ministry. We first met Gilbert in 2006 at his one-man business craft stand (outside of the AEE guest house) earning money for his dowry to marry Esther. He collected craft requests from team members and scoured the markets for these items.  He brought Esther to meet us and celebrate the money realized for their wedding! His Love of God and for Esther along with his intense work ethic has only grown. Over the last two years, Gilbert has used his God-given gifts and skills to build a ministry to come alongside extremely marginalized families, for empowerment, treatment and educational/vocational skills. Here’s the story of Pacifique and her son Aime.

Deep in a grove of Bumbogo – in the hills above Kigali, Gilbert, with the help of the local Anglican Pastor Didas, found Pacifique and her three children living in a dirt hut with a banana leaf roof. Their living conditions were indescribable, bringing two grown men to their knees in tears. Pacifique was caring for three sons: Aime, Eric, and Jado. Eric and Jado greeted both men and then came Aime, dirt and scar-covered boy, pulling himself out of the hut by his only means: his arms. Aime, born with spina bifida (a birth defect that leaves the end of the spine in a sack-like defect outside the body just above the buttocks) had no control of bodily functions nor the use of lower limbs.  In Rwanda, disability is believed to come from the devil, ostracizing and marginalizing the mother and her child. Gilbert raised funds on his visit to the USA, returned to Rwanda and moved Pacifique and her boys to a home in the village. He then took Pacifique and Aime to seek treatment at an orthopedic hospital. After meeting with Dr. Albert, head surgeon, a treatment plan began for Aime’s condition:   corrective surgery for his feet, leg braces, physical therapy needed for his first steps.

Four months into Aime’s treatment, Gilbert asked us to join the first hospital visit with Pacifique since her son was admitted and we eagerly said “Yes!” We all shared the excitement of seeing Aime. Entering the hospital grounds, we heard shouting from the long outdoor hallway. We turned to see Aime joyfully taking his first steps to join us! There were many precious moments in Rwanda – this was different: it was sacredly filled with the joy of a young boy, after long months of treatment, viewing his world at eye level for the first time. God was clearly seen in the face and empowerment of this young boy. Tears of joy flowed from all of us with many hugs as Aime stood before his cheering team. The rest of the young patients gathered around us, some were “Love with Actions” kiddos in treatment and a spontaneous worship began as we sang and praised God for the blessings abundantly given. The kiddos clapped with joy; Julie led songs in Kinyarwanda to their great delight. We learned from Dr. Albert that very few muzungus (“whites”) to visit the hospital, let alone speak the native Kinyarwanda language. Gilbert is a man of great faith with unquestioning obedience to God, and a heart that has an inspiring capacity to love many and the least. This ministry – “Love with Actions” – is flourishing as God promises in scripture through Gilbert’s obedience. The word obedience has a meaning worth understanding: flourishing, joy, and empowerment.

It was tough to leave the hospital after giving hugs, smiles, encouragement, and prayers; loving on too many young faces with complicated medical conditions, each craving love and attention. Travel back to Kigali was a mixture of gratefulness for His blessings and crying out for children needing His tender hand.

Gilbert invited us to accompany Home visits the next day in Bumbogo. And we gladly did. But first, we shopped for sugar, flour, rice and cooking oil for the visit. We were like little kids joyfully filling each bag with much-needed supplies. To our great delight, the first stop was Pacifique’s house. She ran up the path and joyfully embraced us. She had spent much time alone with her two boys Eric and Jado while Aime was away for treatment. The village still shunned her as being possessed by demons as announced by her husband. As we descended the path to her house, we saw many villagers coming to the road curious about the visiting muzungus. She tearfully accepted the bag of supplies and left to put them away. The room filled with happy children from the village touching our skin and our hair; Eric and Jado among them. Julie spoke first, her voice and eyes near tears, thanking Pacifique for the privilege of being part of a tender and sacred moment shared the day before in Rilima. She admired Pacifique’s courage as nothing in this world is fiercer than a mother’s love for her child. Her sacrifices and avocation for Aime are inspiring. We reassured Pacifique that not all fathers are like her former husband. Her faith and Gilbert’s assistance would see her through Aime’s treatment and beyond.

We laid on hands and prayed for Pacifique and her two boys. As we walked out, more villagers gathered on the road above her house. Pacifique’s closest neighbors greeted us and watched the video of Aime walking.  Villagers continued to grow in number. We said our goodbyes to continue our day of home visits. Gilbert shared that our small gesture of a home visit will have a profound impact for Pacifique in the village. White people visiting inside the home of a child with disabilities was big news. It would also help diminish the misguided thought that disability comes from the Mother being possessed by demons. As we entered homes of children with disabilities, villagers gathered outside and watched with great curiosity; emphasizing to us that the ministry of presence in Rwanda is essential and cannot be overstated or diminished.
       

 Visiting mothers of disabled children outside Love with

            Action’s Family Empowerment Center, Bumbog

 

Iman’ishimwe! Ndakunda Love with Actions!

Julie Munezero St. Peter & Frank St. Peter

Perspective on “Perspectives”

Returning from a short-term mission trip to Rwanda in 2004, I felt a burden for the country and its people. As I prayed, I heard God speak into my heart’s ears, “You could go and live there.” When God speaks, I am utterly changed the moment I respond. By his grace, and if he was the one to send and equip me, I told God “yes.”
One of the first things I did preparing for this new adventure was to talk to Pastor Rich Leatherberry. The first thing he suggested was to take the course “Perspectives.” I knew nothing about it, and I wanted to be as prepared as possible. At age 68, I had had very little to do with “missions.” I was somewhat interested in people’s stories as they returned from various far-flung places but didn’t see what part I might have in such work until I went to Rwanda.
What I want you to know is that Perspectives will blow your ideas about “missions” out of the water. Early 2005, I took the course (offered at Belpres) for preparation to go to live in a third world country. And when I came out the other end—yes, it’s a long course (15 weeks) and a lot of reading—I was radically different. I might say: I was born again.
The thing is, I KNEW my Bible. I was and am a Bible student and teacher. The first thing that happened in the beginning weeks was God did an “unraveling” of all my notions about his plans and activities shown in the Bible. The readings and lectures took everything I knew and pulled it all apart, and – praise God – put it back together for me to see it anew. Suddenly it was apparent: From Genesis to Revelation, the scriptures show that God has a plan – a heart – and a mission to reach and to restore all the nations to a relationship with him. I had not seen this before.
Well, that hooked me. Now I wanted to learn how God has been moving over the centuries to accomplish his plan and what cultural awareness I needed to be a part of this. And finally, what strategies God has (and will show us) to use in this ongoing work to reach all nations for his glory.
This “course” is really a powerful instrument from God’s hands for all believers. It is essential for us to know how we fit into his overall plan to be a part of his mission—whether going, sending, equipping, mobilizing, or praying. Praise God for the vision Perspectives unfolds and inspires. It was an essential part of my preparation for Rwanda, and now that I’m back, I’m a strong advocate for Perspectives. I see it becoming an area-wide movement, supported and hosted by many churches in the greater Seattle area, for God’s glory.

 

PERSPECTIVES course is coming to BelPres on Thursday nights, August 30 – December 13!

For more information or to register, go to:  belpres.org/events/perspectives/

Prayer is Not a Waste of Time

A recent attendee at New Hope Revival Church is Muhizi, a young man with a wife and child, living in Tacoma. He had a job in Kent, but no car and no driver’s license. Alexis learned that Muhizi was taking the bus to work and his commute was about 4 hours each way. His wife is pregnant and this schedule was taking its toll on the family.

On a recent Sunday night, Alexis asked Muhizi to come up for prayer and the community prayed for this situation to be resolved somehow, trusting that God has many ways. Then, Alexis learned that member Olive was planning to sell her older car, which was still in good condition, to buy a newer one. He approached Olive and asked if she would be willing to sell her car to Muhizi, even though Muhizi couldn’t pay her all at once and not even right away. Olive immediately responded that she has found Alexis to be trustworthy and if he thought this would be a good thing to do, she was ready. She gave Alexis her car and keys.

Alexis called Muhizi, not telling him anything about the arrangement and asking if he could see him at his workplace. Muhizi agreed. Member Etienne and Alexis met with Muhizi, and Alexis gave Muhizi the keys to Olive’s car explaining that it was now his. Muhizi was overwhelmed and broke down in tears. When he told his wife, who is expecting their second child in August, she also cried.

You might wonder how having a car could help Muhizi since he didn’t have a driver’s license. Alexis had already been giving Muhizi driving lessons encouraging him to get his license, because “You never know when you are going to need it.”  The day before he received the car, Muhizi had passed his test and obtained his license. The prayers of the people were not a waste of time.

 

In Rwanda, there is a large evangelical church called Mt. Zion Temple. Many Rwandans have experience with that church and its many good works. Recently, it had been in the news because of serious divisions threatening the unity of that congregation. New Hope Revival meets every Sunday evening at BelPres for a two hour prayer service. A few weeks ago, Alexis brought up this serious impending split in Mt. Zion Temple, and shared, “We need to pray about this.”  They did. Within a couple of weeks, Alexis got news that the church was reconciling their differences. The prayers of the people were not a waste of time.

 

Perusi, an older woman in the New Hope Revival Church has four grown children (also members) of which two (Patrick and Etienne) are active worship team members. Perusi has been living with her children in a one-bedroom apartment. On a recent Sunday night, Alexis invited people to pray for Perusi’s housing needs. Within a week, a nonprofit housing organization provided a two-bedroom apartment with all new furnishings at no cost to Perusi and her children for as long as she needs it. Perusi was so overwhelmed when she arrived at her new home that she could only kneel beside the new bed and say, “This can’t be mine!”  In church the following Sunday, she was dancing joyfully before the Lord. The prayers of the people were not a waste of time.

These prayers were not a waste of time. Prayer is an investment of time.

 

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

Joy in the midst of grief

By Jean McAllister

Alexis Ruhumuriza, the dynamic young pastor of Belpres’  “new worshiping community” called New Hope Revival Church, lost his mother last week. After suffering a stroke, she was being transported in a litter carried on the shoulders of four men for an anticipated two-day journey to an airplane. She was to be flown out of the Congo to Rwanda for medical help. But she never reached the plane; her suffering was mercifully brief.

It is the cultural norm in Africa that when a death occurs, all family members, friends, and the entire community, come to the home of the bereaved person to bring comfort and practical help. When I arrived at Alexis’ home, several people were there, and many more came during my brief stay. Alexis himself greeted me with his customary cheerfulness, though a bit quieter than usual. But it was evident he was not overwhelmed by his grief. I asked him to help me understand how the culture of visiting contributed to his wellbeing and peace.

Alexis told me that from the moment his mom (called Sifa) died, the steady flow of visitors had not ceased, day and night. People came that first night simply to be by his side in vigil, to pray and be present with him. Visitors came with food and drink, as well as with the practical help of childcare and household chores, such as cooking meals for the family.  As the constant stream of friends continues, Alexis is helped by being able to share details about his mom—how she died, what he most remembered and loved about her—and in turn, they share their own stories of loss and grief. In doing so, they find their own pain easing. Sharing in this way is a mutual comfort, which builds up the community in faith and hope.

Following his mom’s passing, Alexis did not plan to preach on this Sunday—I was scheduled to do that—but he decided the Holy Spirit was telling him he had a powerful message to bring, springing from this true and joyful awareness of God’s presence and power in the midst of his grief. He told me he must be a role model for the congregation. They know him and what he is suffering, so they can be helped substantially in their own ongoing pain and grief still unresolved from their losses during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda as they witness this servant of God proclaiming the power of faith in every trial.

I hope we can all be encouraged by this testimony of faith and hope from our new Belpres member.

If you would like to hear Alexis preach, you are welcome to worship with the New Hope Revival Church during their Sunday Service at 11am, UC-106.

Joseph Nyamutera brings reconciliation and healing in Rwanda

Joseph Nyamutera is a large man with an equally large heart for the Lord who has used his gifts to bring fellow Rwandans out of an unthinkably dark time, leading them to reconciliation into healing and forgiveness; his greatest challenge! What has made this mission and ministry uniquely insurmountable is the fact of who Joseph is: a Hutu among an evangelical team of Tutsis in the Kigali offices of African Evangelical Enterprises (AEE) that was re-established after the Genocide of 1994 when over a million Rwandans were killed.

The genocide began when the then Rwandan President, a moderate Hutu, and the Burundi President’s plane was shot down over Kigali with no survivors. The Rwandan President was returning after signing an agreement for the creation of a transitional government. This angered the Hutu extremists so within hours of downing the airplane, they set up roadblocks and went out on foot to begin killing Tutsis. The killings lasted 100 days and over one million Rwandans were killed. In April 1994, the AEE team leader, Israel Havugimana, was killed along with most of his team. In July 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) liberated the country. The AEE was inactive until August 1994 when the new team Leader Antione Rutayisire (a Tutsis survivor) and a new team were installed.  Following God’s nudge, Antione courageously chose Joseph to head up the reconciliation and healing, a bold and risky move considering the deep wounds at that time.

The required ethnic identity cards of the genocide are now abolished and it is important to understand and appreciate the depth of the work involved. Joseph led the AEE Healing and Reconciliation team to help a country and its people heal from the untold carnage. Often, the perpetrators killed people that they knew.  Joseph brought the perpetrators in front of the families of the victims they killed to walk through three days of reconciliation, healing and ultimately to forgiveness. My husband Frank and I had the honor of witnessing his work while in Rwanda in 2006 and 2008.

After leaving AEE in 2010, Joseph along with his wife Esther founded Mercy Ministries, continuing the work of healing and reconciliation. They work in the Great Lakes region of Rwanda and in the greater Kigali area serving the entire community, both young and old.   They have added education and vocational training to the ministry helping Rwandans to find forgiveness and a hope for the future. Mercy Ministries has been and continues to be supported by BelPres.

In January of this year, Joseph and Esther’s attentions turned fully to Education. Rabagirana Bible College has now opened and registered its first class of students. With this school, they are raising up Rwandans, providing degree programs in Reconciliation, Applied Technology, Bible Courses, General Composition, English, and Computers.

Imana Inguhe Umugieshu! (May God Bless You!)

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

 

Welcome Home Jean McAllister

Jean McAllister first experienced God’s call to be a missionary while she was on an Impact Team Mission Trip in Rwanda in 2004.  She heard God say to her, “You could live here.”

After returning to the U.S., Jean prayed a lot, read Scripture and consulted with friends, family, and pastors here at BelPres.  Through this process, Jean felt strong confirmation that God was inviting heJean & Alexisr to move to Rwanda.  Jean remembers the chorus from one song being particularly meaningful; “Here I am Lord; is it I Lord?  I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go Lord; if you lead me.  I will hold your people in my heart.” This is what Jean has done since she moved to Rwanda in 2005.

Initially, Jean went to work with Naomi Club (a ministry to help Prostitutes start a new life and get off the streets) and AEE.  Jean hired a language tutor and at the bright, young age of 70, Jean began learning a brand new language called Kinyarwanda.

Jean soon became an advocate for kids living on the street, ages 8-18 years old, who were going to schools called “Catch Up” schools.  The purpose of these schools was to catch kids living with homelessness up on all the education they missed and prepare then for secondary school.  Jean also began personally sponsoring some older students so they could go to college and she helped other young people find sponsors here in the U.S.  As Jean’s mastery of the language increased, she began accepting invitations to teach and to preach in local churches.

One of Jean’s great accomplishments was to develop a network of small local Rwandan ministries with a primary focus on children living on the street, prostitutes and poverty.  Through constant encouragement, casting vision around the benefits of working together rather than separately, faithful perseverance and provision of resources, Jean sustained and matured the network until she was able to hand her leadership over to Rwandan believers.

Jesus has used Jean to change many lives both in Rwanda and here in the U.S.. Catch Up Schools has been able to purchase land and provide teacher salaries; young adults have graduated from college; many Rwandans have been mentored and their needs cared for; individuals and teams from the U.S. have been graciously hosted; a network of ministries to the most poor and vulnerable has been sustained and new initiatives developed; a water project was completed and dedicated in the name of someone from Belpres; and the list goes on and on and on.

Jean’s life is a testimony to the amazing ways Jesus works when we say, “Yes!” to His calling.

Jean’s ministry in Rwanda has come to a close and Jean moved back here to the U.S. earlier this week. We are so thankful for Jean, for the fruit of her ministry in Rwanda, and for the ways she has partnered with Jesus in bringing His Kingdom to earth. Well done, good and faithful servant! Let’s welcome Jean back to Bellevue. Greet her when you see her, but more than that, be ready to abide with her as she grieves her life in Rwanda, and as she finds her way among us now. The transition from mission life to country-of-origin life is a challenging one, and Jean will need our congregation to love, to listen, and just to walk with her through it.

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.”
Colossians 1:3-4.

Janvier: “Impossible is Nothing”

A Story of Renewal after the Rwandan Genocide
The 1994 Genocide in Rwanda left many women & children injured, traumatized, and without family. Orphaned during the genocide, Janvier was left to fend for himself as a child. He acquired HIV/AIDS when sexually assaulted by adults. He had lost family, faith and his health and livelihood.

In July of 2013, we had the opportunity to meet Janvier. On our visit to his ministry, we were struck by how he didn’t stop smiling, preaching, and insisting on his thankfulness to God. Due to his participation in a women’s co-op (yes a male member of the co-op!) he has a future and a hope. He repairs sewing machines for a women’s sewing co-op. He also operates a farm of beans and tomatoes along with his family. The land is situated on a steep, rocky slope, where he waters the acre of plants by hand, carrying jugs from a swampy area up a long, rocky path. He rides his bicycle many miles back and forth from the co-op to the farm over rutted, bumpy, dusty roads. Yet, Janvier was nothing but thankful.

javier

Thank you Janvier for modeling thankfulness in all circumstances and for reminding us in the Hope we have in Jesus power to transform lives. “Impossible is Nothing…”

To hear more stories like this one and to learn about some of the ministries that BelPres is connected to in Rwanda please join us this Tuesday evening at Bellevue Presbyterian Church.

Rwanda Prayer & Interest Group
March 31, 2015, 7PM
Welcome Room @ BelPres

Rwanda Impact Team – Recap

In early July, three women from Bellevue Presbyterian Church traveled to Rwanda for a two-week impact trip.  We had been praying and planning for the trip since January.  Our desire was to engage in ministry of presence—going to listen, learn, pray with and for people, and foster good relationships with ministry partners and Christian women who are living in Rwanda long term.

Our missionary, Jean McAllister, identified eight other women who were leaders in ministry to participate in a retreat on Lake Muhazi, which is an hour and a half from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.  One woman, Torey, is the American executive director of a non-profit that works with former street boys.  We visited her ministry site on a Saturday afternoon.  She had returned from a month in the United States a few days prior and said, “I don’t know if I’ll be going to the retreat.  I just got back.  I have a lot of work to do, and I may not be able to take the time off, especially since I just had a month off in America.”

I was disappointed and—I must confess—I was not hopeful that she would attend the retreat.  I had been praying for her by name for some time, and BelPres members had written notes to her by hand with Scripture verses and words of encouragement that we would give to each participant on the retreat.  I knew the retreat would be good, and I didn’t want her to miss out, but, of course, I couldn’t control her decision-making.

The following Wednesday was the day of the retreat, and I was glad to see Torey sitting in the minibus.  She had decided to come after all!  But on the bus ride, she largely was quiet and serious, busily typing texts and emails on her phone.

Prayer tree for the retreat

The retreat was restful and meaningful.  The theme was storytelling, looking specifically at the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus in John 4 and our own stories.  We spent a day and a half praying, singing songs, reading Scripture, journaling, and talking in pairs and in the larger group.  Each woman reported feeling more connected and rejuvenated as a result of the retreat.

 

Rwanda_prayerThe transformation in Torey was particularly marked.  She was smiling and talkative.  She shared with me, “I had thought that the United States was supposed to be restful, but it wasn’t really, not like this.  So many times when I’m sharing in the States, I can’t tell a story that is messy or hard; it has to have a neat and tidy ending, resolved in some clear way that promotes the ministry.  It was refreshing to just tell stories without having to spin it.”  She also said, “You know, when I get together with other ex-pats here [other Americans], we often tell stories about how hard life is in Rwanda…but at the end of the evening, we often feel more depressed about living here.  What I appreciated about the storytelling on the retreat was that it was not about commiseration.  The storytelling was done in a blanket of hope and truth.”

I give glory to God for using the retreat in Rwanda to minister to women ministers.  It was gratifying to see and experience mutual spiritual encouragement.  I am so glad that Bellevue Presbyterian sent the three of us to engage with the women in Rwanda.  At the end of the retreat, the women wrote thank-you notes to Bellevue Presbyterian for funding the retreat.  Here’s what Torey wrote:

“These past two days have been a huge gift and a powerful blessing.  I have felt tired, weak, and dry.  I have forgotten my father’s promises.  This retreat renewed my hope and my joy.  It opened my eyes to my father’s faithfulness.  My heart is thankful and full.”

Thanks be to God!

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Where do you find your hope and joy are renewed? How does this post inspire you to share your struggles with your community?