Monday, July 24, 2017

Rwanda Mission Team 2017 ~ Wednesday, July 19

Wednesday - Runda Parish

" I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel...I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace." --Philippians 1: 3 & 5

We spent an incredible day spent with Redeemer's Sister Church, Runda Parish and their Chapel, Muganza Chapel.  When the team arrived at Muganza Chapel, people were already singing, dancing and worshiping Jesus Christ.  Inside we were greeted by women, men and a preschool class.  The children sang sweet songs and recited the story of Creation to Christ return.  Praise God for Athansia, Muganza's Catachist.  She is a woman of God!

I had the blessing of presenting Pastor Jean Baptiste and Muganza Chapel with funds to help purchase a much needed key board.  They were overjoyed with Redeemer's wonderful gift!  I wish all of Redeemer could have experienced the love and gratitude Muganza feels for the gift.  

We were humbled to be invited to Athansia's (Catechist) home for tea and a meal.  Athanasia has been given the gift of hospitality. Afterwards, we went to Joselyn's home for a delicious lunch. Joseyln is Runda Parish's Catechist.  We felt very loved by these gifts of hospitality.

In the afternoon, the Team showed the Jesus film.  What an incredible experience to partner with Pastor Jean Baptiste in sharing the Gospel.  It was a powerful 2 hours!  Twenty people gave their lives to Christ!  Yesu ashimwe!  (Christ be praised)  We also fed everyone a basket dinner and they were thrilled to have a delicious meal.  The people were nourished spiritually and physically!  Jesus is the Bread of Life!  

Our day with Runda began at 8:30 am and we returned to the Guest House at 9 pm.  We were tired, but energized by the power of the Holy Spirit, also!

Imana ishimwe (God be praised) for His many blessings with Runda Parish.  I am excited for Redeemer's partnership in the Gospel with Runda to continue growing, as we share the love, grace and mercy of Christ!

Imana iguhe umugisha (Many Blessings)


Rwanda Mission Team 2017 ~ Tuesday, July 18

Muraho! Greeting with Rwanda! 

We have continued our journey with Christ and our adventure in Rwanda with the Compassion children! Compassion is an international organization which seeks out children in need and couples them with a sponsor. The funds sent supports the child's education, health and overall creates a better quality of life. Currently, Compassion is serving over 85,000 children in Rwanda alone and is continuing to expand. 

Today we met with Teresa and the Wilson's compassion children. John and Barbara sponsor a young girl named Annunciata who is eleven years old. Teresa's children are named Fiston (4), Thirry (9), Solange (11), Alexia (14) and Gentile (18). We were able to meet all the children except for Teresa's oldest child who was away at boarding school taking exams. The children were very sweet. They sang and danced for us and even let us join in, which was a good activity to break the ice. Then, they each present their Compassion parents with a present and the parents gave their kids each a gift. It was like Christmas!  Each kid was given a backpack with notebooks, pencils, crayons and various toys to enjoy. Fiston in particular loved his toy truck and we enjoyed playing soccer with the rest of the kids. 

We visited with the Compassion kids for almost four hours, enjoying their company and their smiles :) It was sad to say goodbye, but it was a great visit. A little later we walked to the Zion Hill Projects and were greeted by a whole school of children singing songs to end their school day. We introduced each of ourselves and the children were especially happy with Patrick because there was a girl named Patricia in the group. They were confused when Chris told them he was ten years old, but they also thought it was very funny :)

Overall it was a great day.  Looking forward to the great days to come. 

Abigail Jordan 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rwanda Mission Team 2017 ~ Monday, July 17


Today we ventured to Kigali, where we met with Archbishop in the morning. In this meeting, he spoke to us about the various ways the Anglican church in Rwanda is working to train up their multitude of staff members. We also talked about the many differences between American and Rwandan churches, and how each country could learn from the other. After finishing up with the Archbishop, we traveled further into the center of Kigali for lunch. We had very delicious Sambusa along with many other delicious foods. 

Our final stop for the day was the National Genocide Memorial and Museum. At the museum, we were able to learn about the genocide, and understand further the horrors that occurred. Over 250,000 victims of the genocide are buried at the memorial, so we were also able to visit their memorials and pay our respects. 

As we rode back from Kigali, we began to prepare for the Compassion children's visit the next morning! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rwanda Mission Team 2017 ~ Sunday, July 16

Muraho to all!

Today we visited the Nteyno Parish and attended their Sunday service. We were welcomed into the service by one of the four choirs, and we were able to dance with many of the parishioners. At the service, Pastor Amos and Mattias, along with Patrick and Teresa all spoke to the congregation. Both Luke 8:1-15 and Deuteronomy 28:1-8 were preached on. 

After the service, we were able to meet many of the parishioners and speak with them before being given a tour of the primary school housed on Ntyeno's campus. The wonderful staff members of the school then hosted a wonderful lunch for us in one of the classrooms. We are so thankful to have arrived safely in Rwanda, and to have spent our first day in the country worshiping alongside many of our brothers and sisters in Christ! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Jesus in My Place

As we loaded up the minivan this weekend to head to the beach, I’m not sure any of us could have imagined what the Lord had planned for the COTA Women’s Retreat. Sure, we may get to stare out at the ocean from our hotel room on a dreary February day. Yes, we would hopefully meet some new women from Apostles. We would probably enjoy our speaker, Kathy. And we had heard there might be a pretty fun dance party one night.

But the Lord had abundantly more for us. We didn't just stare out at the beach, we walked in the sand on a sunny, 75° February day. We did not just meet new women, we heard real stories, we bonded over shared life experiences, we forged new friendships. Kathy did not just speak good words; she dug deep in scripture and in her own heart and shared the powerful, raw story of redemption—in her life and ours. And oh, we would definitely forego a restful night of sleep to dance all night with a whole bunch of women.

Raleigh Fellows at the 2017 Women's Retreat

And our God worked. The Spirit moved. Jesus redeemed. There are stories of healing—from deep down in our toes to deep down in our souls. There are stories of experiencing God through new gifts. There are stories of Jesus showing up, even in the midst of pain.

My story (in a very abbreviated version) is when Jesus took my place at the table. In a very powerful moment of prayer, I was asked to go back to a moment in my life where I felt pain and rejection. I went back to that moment, and struggled to find Jesus there at first. But, after some conversation and questions, I was able to confess some unforgiveness, admit my deep need for Jesus, and then it happened. I went back to that painful memory, and I looked for Jesus. And there I saw him. He was sitting at the table, in my place. The hurtful words and insults still came, but Jesus took them all. As I sat cowering behind the chair I was previously sitting in, I no longer heard the insults because they went through Jesus first. I watched him take my pain and my hurt. I watched him pick up my burdens. Yes, Jesus took my place. The chains began to loosen, I finally tasted the ice cream, and it was delicious. I felt free.

So, thank you, Apostles women, for choosing to love. When a confused, hurting 23-year-old girl admitted that confusion and hurt, you did not run. You prayed. You asked questions. You spoke truth from the Lord into the deepest places in my soul. You pleaded with Jesus on my behalf. You did not even know my name, but yet you called me sister, you called me daughter, you called me friend. Thank you. 

Carryl Tinsley
2016-17 Raleigh Fellow

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Baptism Story ~ Stephen Sumrall, Raleigh Fellow

I sat completely alone in the church pew. All ninety pounds and five-and-a-half-ish feet of my skinny frame hunched over trying to be even smaller than I already was. Eyes closed and head resting on my forearms. Forearms firmly crossed over my knees. I desperately wanted to disappear. 

You wouldn’t think someone would dread celebrating their sins being washed away by the blood of the lamb. But I dreaded communion Sunday like the plague. Growing up I loathed the fourth Sunday of every month because communion wasn’t for me. I hadn’t been baptized into the church and so I was rightly told that I couldn’t partake of communion. Instead, I sat in that church pew all alone feeling as though the eyes of the congregation were boring through my soul. 

I felt like it would rock my little world of Christian friends if they found out that I didn’t believe the gospel. I couldn’t take and eat of his body broken for me. I couldn’t live my life for Christ. In some ways I never shook that feeling that I couldn’t believe, that a life wholly given to Christ wasn’t for me. 

I never shook that feeling until Sunday January 29th, 2017. On that day I was blessed to be baptized before Church of The Apostles. The ceremony was performed by my dear friend and mentor Eric Bolash in front of many people I’ve come to know and love. I finally felt that the Lord’s table was for me. That he was pierced for my transgressions too, he was crushed for my iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds I too was healed.

Though I did feel those things, I can’t say that the heavens opened up and I suddenly knew how to live my life in new commitment to Christ. That day was a blessing and a turning point, but it was just a beginning. I want to wake and live every day for Christ because he died for me. I want to feel Jesus’ love in the depths of my soul. I want him to be the most real thing in my life. But, even after being baptized, I can’t do any of those things. Only he can in me. I hope and pray for the day that he does.

Stephen Sumrall
2016-17 Raleigh Fellow

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sow Generously, Reap Generously ~ Goldsboro Flood Relief Team

Recently, I had the opportunity to join Church of the Apostles as a group of men and women took a trip to Goldsboro, NC to provide relief for several victims of the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Matthew in October. Over twenty of us gathered at the church early on a Saturday morning to embark on the journey.

After arriving in Goldsboro, filling out waivers, and dividing into teams, Chip, our leader from NC Baptist Men's Disaster Relief, took the time to mention a verse that he read in his quiet time that morning, 2 Corinthians 9:6 ~ Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. I don’t remember all the specifics of what he said, and certainly wouldn’t have expected it at the time, but the verse Chip shared stuck in my head. Not just for the rest of the day but for several weeks to come. 

Inside Newman's Home
Our teams then departed, with our first stop being right down the road to Newman’s home. Newman had been introduced to us before we left as a faithful member of Love Memorial Church which is serving as disaster relief headquarters in the area.  Newman's mobile home and nearly all of his possessions were destroyed by the hurricane. With nowhere to live, Newman’s family traveled back to Honduras until repairs could be made.  All his appliances were on the front lawn, unsalvageable, and the inside of his home was only wooden studs. Massive damage was done. And this was only one house, in a field with at least twenty others, in a city with a population of over 30,000. It was now time to get to work.
With our group split in two, half of us headed to help a resident clear her house of damaged furniture, sheet rock and carpet and the other half to help a local church. I was part of the group that went to the church, where water had flooded the crawlspace and seeped into the floors. We partnered with members of the Air Force from nearby Seymour Johnson Base to haul the entire HVAC system from inside the crawlspace to the curb, move furniture from two offices, and tear up existing carpets. All these tasks that were certainly needed and met with true gratefulness.

However, if I’m being honest, part of me felt like it was insignificant. Sure, I gave up a Saturday. But some of these people had lost everything they owned. And maybe I moved some furniture and ripped up some carpet. But there were guys under the church most of the day waging war with an HVAC system. For some reason, what I was doing didn’t feel like enough. 

So, as I thought about this feeling and pondered my part in relation to the overall damage of the hurricane. I started to think more and more about the verse from earlier that day and what Paul had said to the Corinthians, “Sow sparingly, reap sparingly. Sow generously, reap generously.” Was my sowing sparing or generous?

This pushed me to think about and apply what we had been learning recently in our Song of Songs Sunday school class, “God intends earthly things to lead us into heavenly realities.” Paul used an earthy thing, sowing seeds, to point to a heavenly reality of what it looks like to be generous. Less seeds in a field will obviously lead to a smaller harvest, but more seeds, they lead to a plentiful harvest.

So how do I relate this to my time in Goldsboro? And work that I questioned if it was making a difference? Well, maybe I only planted one seed that day. But as a group we scattered a handful. And as a church, we have an opportunity to plant a field. There’s still a lot to be done in Goldsboro and all over eastern NC. If each person sows only one seed, does one, by itself, seemingly insignificant task, we could reap a harvest. A harvest that could make a world of difference to the communities that are so close by and the people that live in them.

I learned a lot from our trip to Goldsboro. I learned that we have a lot of members of this church that will give up their time to help others, even if it involves crawling under a church in the mud for four hours. I’m thankful to be part of this community and know that we will continue to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.

~ Josh Crowell