This summer four BPC members discovered how the church is making a difference in Rwanda. It wasn’t a good start. We had had a long day travelling and now were standing outside the airport terminal at half past midnight and nobody was there to meet us. I said to Ken, “We’re in Africa!” Fortunately 20 minutes later, after a phone call, a car arrived and whisked us off to where we were to stay. From then on everything went as smooth as silk. What were the four of us, Karen Jardine, Ken Groves, Graham Simpson and Bill Addley doing in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda?
A few years ago, when the Session and Church Committee decided to redevelop our halls at the back they also agreed to give 10% of the monies rose towards one or more projects in the developing world. After discussion within the congregation and with various missionary agencies we agreed to become part of Tear Fund’s Connected Church scheme. Under that scheme we were in Rwanda to see three church projects: one Presbyterian about two hours by car outside Kigali, another, an Anglican nearly an hour away, and a third, an independent Evangelical church a half hour’s journey on the other side of the city. Our visits to these communities warmed our hearts and humbled our spirits. The Rwandans have suffered terribly in the recent past. In the 1990s in horrendous inter-tribal violence, 800,000 people were slaughtered in a period of 100 days. This happened while the United Nations and the rest of the world looked on and did nothing. Some survivors lost all their relatives, some mentioned as many as 50. Some women were raped by men specially chosen because they were HIV infected. The Genocide Museum sits on a site where a quarter of a million people are believed to be buried. And yet we sensed an air of forgiveness and reconciliation, which puts us all to shame. In addition, economically these people have very little. In all three places we heard stories of how the churches were making a difference, sharing the good news of Jesus and helping people to regain their sense of worth. Their small groups met for prayer and bible study and also to organise self-help. Some pooled their meager savings (for some as little as 20p per week) so that they could support one another and have a means of providing for themselves with chickens or goats. We hope to help all three churches but we had to choose one as our main partner. We were unanimous in recommending to Session that the Independent Evangelical church in Kigali be that partner.
The details of how exactly our partnership will develop still has to be worked out, but there is plenty of scope for us to assist them with building a pre-school classroom, and helping their groups working with Aids victims and with widows who have absolutely no family. We can also support their evangelism among the nominal Christian and Muslim communities, and much else. We also look forward to the Lord blessing our fellowship through our working together with them. The resources we have to distribute will most likely lead us to adopt other projects, but at the moment getting this one off the ground is more than enough. Please pray for wisdom and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we seek the way forward.