Rwanda is a country that is healing from the genocide that killed over one million people in 100 days ten years ago in 1994.This brutality destroyed the fabric of human existence, trust, love and hope. This loss also brought abject poverty to levels never experienced before.
Currently the Church is led by Johnson and Norah Namei, a Ugandan couple who have been there since 2011. For a while the church had not grown and the few faithful disciples were losing their faith.
Of the 29 members of the Church, 14 are from Gitarama. In November 2013, my wife and I, along with East African Regional leaders John and Jane Maleya, made a visit to Gitarama, a town of rolling hills about 100km from Kigali. We visited all the disciples’ homes going from one hill through the valley to another. The disciples exhibited a wealth of faith and joy during these visits. But though they have a wealth of faith they live in extreme poverty. It was an emotional time as we were warmly welcomed with song and prayer in each home.The disciples are too poor to offer anything else.Some are so poor they can barely afford one meal a day.
Despite their difficult living conditions and limited resources these disciples make every effort to get to Church. On a Sunday morning, some wake up at 5 am to make the 3 hour journey to the main road before making the 1 hour bus ride to Kigali.
As we spent time with the different families in Gitarama, we visited 2 sisters, Conslatrice and Filemina. Each one of them had suffered a recent stroke and both were bed ridden because they couldn’t afford basic healthcare. We found them seated on a mat, which we later learned is what they use as a mattress. They have no blankets so they use government issued mosquito nets to cover themselves. Norah Namei who leads the sisters shared with us that almost none of the disciples in Gitarama had mattresses or blankets. Most of them use old clothes which they stuff in a gunny bag to make a mattress or use mats weaved from reeds.
Back in Kampala we shared this moving story of the plight of our brothers and sisters in Rwanda. The Maleyas shared the same story in Nairobi Kenya—thus we began the mattress and blanket project. The disciples rallied together to raise money and donate whatever they could. So far this project has provided all the disciples in Gitarama, Rwanda with mattresses and blankets. Their hearts are filled with joy and they were so grateful for the giving from their brothers and sisters in Uganda and Kenya.
In December 2013 God added 10 new disciples to their number in the Church in Rwanda, something that has never happened before in one month!
Thus far in 2014 God has added 11 more new disciples to their number, 10 of whom were baptized in one day!To God be ALL the glory.
Keep on praying for us as we strive to bring Hope and the Gospel in this land and in East Africa.
By Richard Ahenda, Lead Evangelist, Kampala International Church of Christ