Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rwanda: Is God calling you to be there?

We are planning another trip to deepen our relationship with Church of the Apostles - Gikomero and the Shyogwe Diocese.  The 2014 trip will be July 4-15 and led by Eric Bolash.  The primary purpose of the trip will be working with the Mothers Union, and any area based on an applicant's skill set.  The Mothers Union encourages and educates women in parenting, nutrition, hygiene, family planning and offers emotional support.  They teach skills in order for the women to become self-sustaining.  The trip cost is approximately $2,800.  Applications are available on our website: HEREThey are due this Sunday, December 8th. If you have any questions, contact Eric Bolash (eric@apostles-raleigh.org) or Teresa Kincaid (nanatgk@gmail.com). 
Below is the blog post that Patrick wrote on the last day of their trip this past summer. Read about their trip and pray...asking the Lord if you are meant to go this coming year...

Day 11-I am sitting on an Ethiopian Jet liner in the 20th hour of a 30 hour journey (counting layovers).  It is hard to find the words to sum up our sister church partnership trip so far.  It has been affirming, moving, joyful, transforming and challenging.  Our hosts have been so gracious, and it and it has been wonderful to see and experience the genuine warmth.  This was our churches 4th trip, my third, several members second and a first for three of our team.  The change in our partnership has been remarkable.  Names are known.  Hugs and exclamations of delight punctuated each joyful greeting, as we hailed each one, recognizing faces and remembering names:  Gato! Betti! Bishop Jared! Pastor Ettiene! Eugenie! Felicima! Venant!   And on and on it went.  “Mwaramutze" (good morning), "I Mana Abahe Umugeedzah!" (May God bless you!), "Yesu Ashmwe!" (Jesus Be praised!)...
Taylor and Sarah with our cook Favian
As I witnessed, experienced and pondered these loving exchanges, I became more convinced of the true relational value of partnership.  The New Testament Epistles are filled with such warm greetings and blessings arising out of genuine affection and mutual knowledge of our Lord Jesus.
I come away from this trip deeply touched by our brothers and sisters in Rwanda.  They are building a new church building which we were privileged to see progress this week from ground level to about 15-20 bricks high all the way around.  They told us they are renaming their parish “Gikomero Church of the Apostles” to reflect our brotherhood.  They said “in our eyes you are Rwandan.  Please tell the brothers and sisters at home that we love them and are praying for them.  Tell them they are Rwandans, too!”
Laying brick on the foundation of the new church building
I was also very glad to see that Pastor Ettiene has become a very good and solid leader of his parish.  He loves his people, walks miles every day to encourage them in their cell groups and families, meets regularly with his lay leaders, visits the health clinic to pray with patients, and faithfully teaches/preaches The Word of God. He was delighted to show me the effects of the water project and the running water in the clinic, at a community station and just outside his home.
Pastor Ettiene oversees the building project

Ettiene greets Teresa
Our group also was impressed by the compassionate outreach taking place at Gikomero.  The church consistently ministers to over 100 single mothers who have suffered stigmatization, abandonment, abuse or rape.  These single moms are heroically working, providing and seeking the best for their kids.  The church is encouraging them with resources and the hope of the Gospel.
How I wish all our church could experience this partnership first hand.  I wish you could have met Alfred and his wife, Jennifer – a warm, loving couple who minster to youth, children, mothers, and prisoners.  Alfred was unjustly accused of participation in the genocide and spent 11 years in prison separated from his wife and children.  You would never know it to look at him.  He is filled with the grace and joy of Jesus and preaches the good news every chance he gets.
I wish you could have met the four children and one young man a few members of our group have sponsored through Compassion International.  They and their parents are so grateful for the chance to obtain education. The young man has obtained a vocational degree to operate taxis and small vehicles.  He was incredibly kind-hearted towards the younger children, sharing his candy (a gift we gave) with them, and playing soccer with them with his new ball.
I wish you could have seen the dancing at the church service yesterday as we all joined in with feet pumping and arms waving in raucous joy.  What a picture of the kingdom!  As I watched the children dancing and the adults clapping, tears came to my eyes.  This is what we are all destined for in the kingdom of God when the nations gather round to worship.  The tears came because I know these people.  I know their struggles.  I know their illnesses.  I am getting to know their fears.  I see their poverty and lack.  I’ve heard their stories of genocide.  Their dancing brings tears because it is born out of hope for a better world.  Not just in the coming kingdom, but in the progress of the kingdom NOW!!
Let the dancing begin!

Eric just can't help himself!
Patrick too!!!
I wish you could have been here for there is more to tell than I can possibly write.  I hope this blog has been a blessing to you.  I hope the few pictures and stories we have posted have made it possible for you to share in the journey.  I hope you will press in further with our sister church and hold them in your heart and keep them in your prayers.
Imana Ibana amohoro namwe.  (The peace of God be with you all.)

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