Saturday, July 8, 2017

Visiting Their Church Plants

As I said in an earlier post, our days in Rwanda were fairly jam packed with meeting people who work alongside Joel and Annie all across Rwanda.  We literally went border to border (from Rubavu which is on the far western border near Congo to Akegera on the eastern border which is near Tanzania) we also went to Mutara and Kerenge as well.  So to say that we have traveled a lot is quite the under statement whether by plane or automobile.  Most of our van rides were 2-3 hours with the longest being 5 hours one way.  For the most part our kids did phenomenal, though there were of course a few harry moments of whining and crying and times when we all wanted to lose our minds for a bit.  Our patience was tested and our children’s endurance was stretched, thankfully we all came through having learned more about our privilege and seeing what all we truly have to be grateful for.  What a humbling experience, what a blessing.

Our main reason for coming to Rwanda was to see our dear friends Joel and Annie Sengoga, to be an encouragement to them, to get a better picture of their ministry and what they do at Divine Destiny and to see how we might continue to come alongside them.
Our very first day in the country we got a tour of their church and met the media team.  They have been wanting to try and connect with more westerners through social media so Carol gave a great tutorial on how to use their new DSLR camera and lens and we answered some questions about what to post to social media and how to go about doing that, what westerners are looking for and what kind of information and how often they should post things.  
Our children were quite content to watch a movie while we visited with the media team and other church staff members, we used our apple devices and John's bluetooth speaker A LOT on this trip!
Here is Adam playing along with Emmanuel, who helps lead worship and works with the youth at Divine Destiny.
Several of the days we spent traveling into the villages and we got the opportunity to meet with pastors who are leading the DD church plants across the country.  Joel has a heart for training leaders who can shepherd church bodies and who desire to replicate and multiply truth and salvation into others who will be faithful stewards to do that as well.  To hear the hearts of these pastors, to see how God truly has gone before them to make a way for the church plants are really fun stories to hear.  Like one such church, pastored by Peter and his wife Linda, it was started simply because of a wedding.  Joel married Linda and Peter in Kigali (the first DD church) not in the church in the town where they wanted to live, and according to their law, the government wouldn’t allow them to move back to Karenge without having been married there.  Peter was even put in jail because of the situation.  Joel became aware and went to the jail and discovered that the only way for Peter to be released was for there to be a DD church planted there.  So truly, God made a way where there seemed to be no way.  Joel said, he never had any intention of doing a DD church plant in that town, but God clearly had other plans.  (Linda is the one on the far left and Peter is right beside her; their two precious girls are Blessing (4) and Favor (2).  Pictured as well, are parts of their ministry team ).
Peter and Linda invited us into their home, it was wonderful to visit and pray over them and to see their heart for this community.  I’m so thankful that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  He works in ways we cannot see, and He made a way for them to be in there.  
For now, they have been renting the plot of land and have a non permanent building they've been using for church services, but the Lord has provided land for a permanent structure and little by little, as the church members are able, they are making progress on their own church building that they hope will one day serve as a school for children in the area.  Joel took us to see where it will be, and the location is absolutely gorgeous!  The land backs up to a view of one of the beautiful lakes located there.
One brick at a time, this church is taking shape!
Another pastor that we met was Nathan.  His heart for the people of this community is undeniable.  He regularly sleeps on a palette in the corner of the church building and had his Bible opened and was reading when we arrived.  He explained to us that Bibles are very hard to come by in their language and that the first Study Bible had just recently been published in 2012 and was extremely expensive to get.  The goal is for each of the church planters is to have a copy of a Study Bible for them to glean insight from to be able to share with their congregations.  Most of the pastors have not received any type of formal seminary classes, so that’s why Divine Destiny began their pastoral training program in Kigali.   While we prayed for the ministry in Karenge, our kids enjoyed playing in the clay colored dirt.  (You can see the pastors palette in the background of this picture.)
The kids played on the huge dirt mound while we visited and prayed over the church staff.
The last church plant we visited was in another rural area of the country.  It took us about two hours to get there in the van.  We met with the Pastor and his staff and enjoyed seeing the people and visiting with them too.  Our kids enjoyed playing with the local kids and their homemade soccer balls.  The church is almost finished, with just a few more windows to go in and then it will be complete.
Everywhere we went we had lots of interest in what we were doing. We were already a pretty large group with just our three families of six then with some of the pastors and church staff added in we were well over 20 plus people who definitely caught the attention of the towns people who followed us from place to place.
The people we met were so friendly and kind, they would raise their eyebrows as a sign of welcome and saying "hi", they were eager to shake hands and to welcome us.  What an experience to see their kindness and hospitality everywhere we went.  Rwanda is a beautiful country with amazing people there.  Getting to finally meet all the people Joel has told us about was truly remarkable.  Getting to see with our eyes and pray with our hands laid on the pastors and their staff was truly impactful.  To have gotten a front row seat to see what all the Lord is doing in and through His willing vessels, was inspiring to observe.

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