I can’t believe that our time in Gacundezi has already come to an end. It feels like there is so much to do and so much to see here! It was another amazingly fruitful day of ministry here, and in so many ways it was not according to my script.
I knew going in that my day was going to be God’s day. I had no plans, so it was all going to be His chance to do what He wanted me to! We had breakfast and then piled into the taxi (which we affectionately named “Mabel” because the old girl wasn’t much to look at but she was faithful and true!) to head to Gacundezi. We told JB that we would be there at 8AM sharp for worship, and he reminded me 3 times yesterday to be there at 8 SHARP.
However, Africa time knows nothing of the term SHARP. We got started 15 minutes late, and of course this was the day that Jeffrey our driver needed to stop to get gas. If you know me you know that I just hate being late, and this was the first time I felt that stress on the trip. I had to pray and repent on the road to Gacundezi because this was God’s day, not mine. I knew JB would understand.
We got to the school at about 8:20, and JB had all the students on the school lawn. He finished talking with them about 10 minutes after we got there, so being late wasn’t a huge deal. This is when we went off the script for the first time today, as JB came over and said that the students were ready to hear me preach. Um…preach? I was completely unprepared to preach! I had nothing. Nada. Zip-o. JB said that the students were headed over to the cafeteria, and when they got settled there they were blessed to hear the pastor preach the word of God.
This picture shows JB and I talking as students headed back to class after worship.
Um, Lord…a little help, please? The team huddled up with me really quickly and said a short prayer. The kids all sat in their benches in the cafeteria (which is really just an empty hall with movable bench seats) as JB said some words. He then introduced me, and when he said I was a pastor (the Kinyarwanda word for pastor is “pastor,” so I knew that one!) the students applauded! I was kinda sheepish, because that’s not a typical reaction.
So I started preaching from our team’s morning devotion in Psalm 8 and reminded the students that no matter what anyone said about them, they are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27) and they have value and worth. To reign as God has intended, though, they must not only be made in His image but must be His children. (John 1:12) They become children of God by faith in Christ. (John 3:16) Then for those who trusted Christ, we considered the parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30) and I exhorted the students to faithfulness in their walk with God and their relationships on earth. Through an interpreter, that message took an hour. It is hard for me to keep my energy and enthusiasm while pausing every sentence for translation!
I thought I was done, but not quite. The kids of the school have elected one of their own, a young man whose English name is Dan, to be their student “pastor.”
Dan stood up and addressed the students after I finished. These kids are 7th-9th grade, so I had made room for some rowdiness in the crowd. Twice I had to say, “Students, I can share with you but I cannot shout over you” and wait for them to quiet before I could continue. Dan got up after I finished and chewed them out! In Kinyarwanda he told them that they were being disrespectful and shouting out of turn. He told them that they needed to sit quietly and hear the word of God.
The funny part of this story is how I found out about it. I heard a bunch of Dan speaking in Kinyarwanda, then in English he hollered “ONE POTATO.” More Kinyarwanda…”ONE POTATO.” I had helped Ann on Monday with the students as she taught them the “one potato, two potato, three potato, four” ditty as a game. Paul, my interpreter, told me that Dan was telling the students that if they wanted to holler they should do it by singing the “one potato” song in class, not while I was preaching. And then he said that the students needed to raise their voices, and invited a young woman to come lead the students in song to get some energy out. The students sang a worship song together that was beautiful!
He then told me that the students would be more respectful, and asked me to come preach to the students a second time. He promised me that they would be attentive and thanked me for coming from America to preach for them.
Um, Lord…a little MORE help please?
Dan told me that the students needed to hear the story of the chair, and that it would help them. So I preached that story for the third time in three days as a tool to help them be better disciples of Jesus. They were very respectful and they loved it! They repeated back the legs in the chair to me time and again, and responded to the message. It really resonated.
All told, I preached about an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours this morning. I was wiped out!! It was amazing, but I was wiped. The students then thanked me profusely before heading to class. It was an amazing opportunity to preach and impact students that I wasn’t expecting.
The day just kept getting better and better from there. Vicki was just finishing up her time of training moms to pray for the school via the Moms in Touch program, and Laura was in that with her. Laura got a chance to share with the moms afterward about the birth kits she had brought, and praise God was able to send the 25-30 women who had come back to their villages with the kits!! They received them with gratitude. Laura also got to give a TON of medical supplies to one of the moms who came who was also a midwife, which was a HUGE answer to prayer as she was not sure where to give that material. This lady’s husband is a pastor in town, and she needed supplies to be a good midwife. She cried as Laura opened the bags with the supplies in them, thanking Laura for providing them. To God be the glory!! (or as she said over and over, “Imana Ishimwe” [praise God], “Yesu Ishimwe” [praise Jesus]) This was a great day for Laura, and she was beaming with excitement.
What happened with Laura over the trip is CERTAINLY worth it’s own post, but to follow-up on my previous request God heard your prayers in a huge way. On Wednesday she visited the hospital and ran into one of the moms she had helped labor, whose baby had been born healthy and happy. She got a lot of encouragement from that. Then on Thursday she was able to distribute the birth kits in a TOTALLY unexpected way and help a local midwife who worships Christ. God totally worked everything out far better than we ever could have planned, so thanks for praying.
The day still had more blessing in store! I got to do 2 visits in the homes of the people of Gacundezi that afternoon, and they were a blessing. Whenever we came down from the hilltop the school sat on and into the village, the kids came running to meet us and followed us everywhere.
The kids are everywhere, and they ALL want you to take their picture and show it to them on your viewfinder. We got to go into two children’s homes who are sponsored by FH, and pray with the families. I learned a huge lesson in hospitality. These homes are very, very rudimentary. There is no electricity or running water, but there is joy and peace! The mother of each home met us and invited us into their front room, thanking us for coming. Each told us they were blessed to have us and thanked us for our support. And each told us of the blessed life that they lived! These people were strong believers in Christ (one was a pastoral home) whose physical needs were not of major concern to them. They had Christ and family, and nothing else was too big a deal.
When we came back to the school we knew our time was short. I had brought three Bibles in Kinyarwanda that my secretary Ilene found in America for about $30 each, and I wanted them to get into good hands! We also had 2 extra English Bibles that we wanted to distribute. The first English Bible went to Dan, the student pastor. Next we gave a Kinyarwanda and an English Bible to Emmy (short for Emmanuel) who is a teacher at the school.
I also gave a Kinyarwanda Bible to the pastor of the school, who only had an English Bible. His English name is Clever.
The final Kinyarwanda Bible was given to a teacher whose name is Dan.
These men were so grateful to receive Bibles. They thanked us over and over! It was a blessing to provide them, and it made me realize what a blessing it is to have Bibles. I probably have 10 English Bibles on my shelf in my study, and dozens of translations in my Bible software. These men were aching for a Bible because they couldn’t afford one!
So far we have raised funds for 50 Kinyarwanda Bibles to give to the primary school library, and it will only take $300 to provide the other 50. We also are going to provide 300 NLT English Bibles for the secondary school that will cost about $1800 to provide (I am estimating here as I haven’t received details yet). If you’d like to participate, please let me know! If you have a Bible at home that you read, would you please consider donating $6 so that a family in Rwanda can have that same blessing in their life?
Wow, another amazing day. God totally worked in amazing ways, and none of it was on my script when the day began. I have been blessed beyond all measure to be present for the work that He is doing among His people in Gacundezi. As we pulled out of the school, I felt a profound longing to stay and help more but a sure realization that I need to come home too. My heart is with the pastors, teachers, and students in Gacundezi but I can do more good by coming home than I can if I stayed here. More on that later. 🙂
Again, thanks for following along as I journal through our trip. It has been fantastic. Tomorrow we are going to visit the national park before heading to Kigali, and I am excited to see what the Lord brings.