Oct. 20, 2010
I arrived home from Rwanda on Wednesday, October 13 after about 30 hours of travel! Aside from some travel hassles on the way there and back, our ministry in Gisenyi, Rwanda was a huge success.
This pastor’s conference was a first for the Gisenyi pastors. When my friend Michael Gray and I got together with the Gisenyi Church Council last year, we both felt the defeat and frustration on the hearts of the pastors. The pastors knew that God had called them to the ministry, but felt inadequate to handle the challenges of their ministries including the explosion of the Muslim religion (After the Genocide, people became suspicious of most religions including Christianity because even “Christians” were sometimes involved in the killings. The Muslim population has grown rapidly since the Genocide, largely because many Muslims sheltered the Tutsi people instead of killing them or turning them over to be slaughtered).
Against this backdrop, the mere fact that a church leader came from the Western world to hold a conference was a huge blessing to these pastors. They told me that an American evangelist had come to Gisenyi one year and promised to come back to hold an evangelistic meeting the next year. That promise was not kept and the people were disappointed. Out of that experience, the Gisenyi pastors were so rejuvenated that I indeed came back and that was a sign to them God had not forgotten them.
From day one, the word of God pierced their hearts. Throughout the week, the pastors intently listened to the lecture and took notes. Constantly shouting “Amen,” they all said, “We have never learned the Bible like this. The Bible is coming alive!” The three translators who worked with me did a tremendous job, I felt, transforming my lecture into an amazing presentation of the Word.
When the conference was over, one by one the Gisenyi pastors took my hand and thanked me for coming to Gisenyi. They all asked me to tell my supporters how grateful they were for sending me to Gisenyi to hold this conference. Having said that, they pleaded with me to come to Gisenyi at least three times a year to develop them as pastors and evangelists.
In his closing sermon at the end of our week together, the chairman of the Gisenyi Church Council publicly thanked my supporters one more time and begged me to come to teach them at least three times a year. Lest I become a liar, I told the pastors that I would not promise to come back three times a year, but my partner Michael Gray and I would try our best to either come back ourselves or send somebody else to the churches and pastors of Gisenyi for a conference like this to help build up the churches and church leaders leaders of Gisenyi, so pray with us. I also told them this:
“Before I left home, several of my supporters called and emailed me and asked to tell the Christians and church leaders of Gisenyi that they are never alone. Though we live on different continents, we are all one in Jesus Christ and we are praying for you in Gisenyi. We will certainly help you whenever you need our help. Do not lose heart! We will work together to bring about a great spiritual revival in Gisenyi. All the pastors responded to me with an enthusiastic “Amen” and thundering applause. As I embraced and prayed for the chairman of the Gisenyi Church Council later, he was quietly weeping.
Thank you very much for your prayers and support. If it were not for your cooperation, renewing the pastors of Gisenyi like this would have been impossible. I hope that in the near future some of us can actually go to the mission field together. I look forward to hearing from you.
With much gratitude,