Ministry in Rwanda

          It didn’t take me long to notice the incredible number of ministries in Rwanda – churches of various denominations, reconciliation ministries, ministries to genocide survivors, etc.  I mentioned this observation to a man who works at ALARM, once such ministry.  He said, “Sometimes when a tree is cut down, it grows back stronger.”  However, he added that the pool of ministries is wide but shallow.  There seem to be a lot of Rwandans who have been searching for hope and have found it in the church.  I can’t tell you the number of pastors and evangelists I’ve met.  But there is a need for good training and discipleship.  That’s probably why a group from Community Bible Studies International (from MN!) were here a couple weeks ago…and why there are 2 different pastors staying at my guest house right now doing pastor training (one from TX who is a friend of Pastor Esron’s and is working with the EFCR).

          The need is definitely great.  Just in the past couple of days I heard two stories of current issues with “genocide ideologies.”  Part of me has a hard time understanding how that can still be going on.  And yet, when you think about it, the genocide happened just 17 years ago.  There are schools where students who lost a parent/family member in the genocide could be sitting right next to the children of the murderers.  But in the midst of this climate, reconciliation is taking place.  I heard the story of a ministry that is providing a home to a widow of the genocide…which is being built by the son of the man who killed her husband and another man involved in the killings…and she is giving them space on her land for them to build homes for themselves. Amazing!  As a Christian I definitely believe strongly in the concept of forgiveness.  But I realize…I’ve really never had to forgive anyone for anything remotely that big.  Only through the power of the Holy Spirit could that ever be possible!

         And people here are so poor and have so little.  Almost every day I am either directly asked for money or told about a situation where there is a need.  I’m left struggling with what my ministry is to be here.  How can I best help?  I am so rich in comparison.  And we as Christians are called to help widows and orphans and the poor.  I definitely have a heart for helping people meet their basic needs.  But I can’t give to every cause I see.  I met a young woman who has big dreams and is trying to make a go of her life after a fairly rough childhood.  I was feeling good about the possibility of being an encouragement to her.  Then today she asked me for a fairly sizeable (in Rwandan standards) chunk of money.  I was discouraged.  And then my new pastor friend from Scotland told me that I can still be an encouragement to her.  

          I think up until just recently my biggest concern about being in Rwanda was whether or not I would be useful.  Am I really helping out at the school?  I am doing some work at Solace, but it is just office stuff.  Am I really making a difference?  But then, it was like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, remember that this trip is not about you.  You can have all the plans in the world, but apart from Me you can do nothing.  I’ve got things under control; you just have to trust in Me.  And maybe what I have planned for this trip is more about the difference it makes in your life and your relationship with Me.  Maybe just your presence here is an encouragement to others.  Maybe I am planting a seed for something I am going to do later.  Just leave it to Me.”

          So, that’s what I am trying to do.  I’m still not sure what I am going to do about the young woman who asked me for money or how I can best be an encouragement to her.  And I know that I am going to need that same reminder from God over and over again throughout my life.  But I think that is one of the lessons I am learning from my time in Rwanda.  Please pray that God will have an impact in and through me during the rest of my time here…whatever that might look like!  :)

Written by jenblevins in: Blog - 2011 Rwanda Service Trip |

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