January 2008

A Word from our Pastor Larry Levy

I’ve been speaking on giving lately and I’ve been struck with the words of Jesus as found in Matthew 6:21: “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.”  Eugene Peterson in his fresh translation, The Message, writes even more succinctly: “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being”.  These are dangerous words indeed!  The words of Jesus have been discovered to be true by millions around the world: when you give financially to church planting and community development in other parts of the world, your heart follows your gift. Everything changes: the way you pray, the way you read the news, your interest in the lives of those in other nations, your financial decisions, even the consideration of serving on a short term missions trip.  Let’s teach our children from a young age how they can go to the nations through their giving.  What a privilege it is to offer our gifts and have our hearts joined with our Rwandan friends!

A Word from Michelle Levy

Michelle is on the sending team and has spent 6 months with the Finnerty’s in Kigali. Fundraising can be a joy and a blessing!

Paper mache, homemade jewellery and a little generosity can go a long way. It was nearing Christmas, and the joy of giving was beginning to stir. In the young adult Justice group, they wanted a way to extend this joy all the way across the ocean to the beautiful country of Rwanda. Ideas were sparking, and the decision was made that it might be a little messy, and take some creativity, but they were going to make paper mache money banks to hand out to each small group in the church. For the next few weeks as each group met, loonies, toonies and even a bucket full of pennies were collected for the Christmas in Rwanda fund.

Even the girls youth group had ideas of their own. With beads, string and an enthusiastic bunch, they handcrafted necklaces and bracelets that were sold in order to send some ‘Christmas cheer’ to Rwanda.

It wasn’t long before the banks, the homemade jewellery and a generous donation added up to the total of $700.00.

Thanks to all who used their time, money, energy and talent to help others. What a wonderful gift for Rwanda!

A Word from Patrick Finnerty- How the youths blessing was received and used to bless the emerging kingdom in Rwanda!

Our church here in Kigali was blessed with a donation from the youth and small groups from our home church, Halifax Metro Vineyard. We decided to use most of the money to provide Christmas hampers for the people in our church. A portion will be put away for emergency situations that occur regularly. A great tradition in Rwanda at Christmas time (for the few who can afford it) is for the ladies to get new clothes. Therefore we decided to get all the ladies in our congregation a new “ gatenga ” to put in with the food hamper to be handed out after our Christmas service on Dec 23 rd. Antoine and Esperance bought and cut the bails of beautiful waxed material into 35 lengths. A gatenga is a richly decorated piece of cloth made by a waxing and dyeing process. Each is about 2 meters long and wrapped around the waist and is ankle length. It is very special for a lady to get a present of one and as we all know “ when Mom is happy, everyone is happy ”.

On December 22 nd Antoine, Innocent, Pascal, Faustin and I went to market and bought 50 kg of rice, 50 kg of beans, 25 kg of sugar, 25 kg of salt and 300 mandazis (sweet breads which we bought fresh on Sunday morning). We brought it all back to our house where Val, Joel and Brendan helped form the assembly line to weigh and bag all the food. Innocent had made a list of all the families and appropriate sized parcels were made up with gatengas enclosed and names written on the outside. We drank cold sodas and had a lot of fun with Val organizing the assembly line and Pat taking pictures.

Early on Sunday morning we took all the presents to the church building and after a joyful meeting everyone enjoyed mandazis (especially the children) while we passed out the presents. I noticed that no one opened their presents and was told that in Rwandan culture it is polite to wait until you get home to open a present. When we explained that the presents were provided by the small groups in our church the congregation asked if they could sing a song of thanks to their friends in Nova Scotia. There was an air of happiness and excitement as people went home to enjoy Christmas together.

One of the goals of this newsletter is to introduce you to the people who are the emerging church in Rwanda. Today Michelle is introducing Antoine.

“Mwaramutse!” I am practicing my Kinyarwanda as I walk down the dusty African road. I just said good-morning to the children who are quite curious about the white girl in their neighbourhood. As much as I am trying to practice this new language, I get a reply in English.

“How are you?” the child says boldly.

“I am fine, and how are you?” That’s as far as the conversation goes. The children have decided that is enough excitement for one day, as they giggle amongst themselves. I continue walking, heading towards the bus park where I will try to seek a “matatu” that will take me where I want to go. I hear footsteps behind me, their pace quickening. I sigh to myself. Somebody else wants to practice their English on me. God, help me to be patient!

“Bonjour”, the young man says.

Hmm, maybe I’ll test out my French this time. “Bonjour” I reply. He must’ve realized from my bad accent, that I was not French.

“Do you speak English?” he asks.

“Yes, I speak English.” He continues to walk with me to the bus park, while asking his questions. He wants to know what I am doing in Rwanda. I tell him that I am from Canada and that we are here to plant a Vineyard church. He seems very interested now, so I tell him a little about the Vineyard, our values and beliefs. We arrive at the bus stop and he asks for my phone number. I hesitate; it’s not every day I give my phone number to strangers. But somehow I felt I needed to take a risk this time. I discovered his name was Antoine. After helping me through the confusions of buses we said good-bye.

It was a few days later when I heard from him. He wanted to meet again, and hear more about this “Vineyard”.

Before our next meeting I prayed that if this was someone God had in mind for us to partner with, then so be it. After a short time of talking, it was easy to see that Antoine had a sincere love for God and for his people. He believed in what I was sharing with him about the Vineyard, whether it was the value we place on children (which sometimes gets forgotten in an African church) or our desire for authentic worshipping communities.

We continued building our friendship during my time in Rwanda, and before leaving, I knew that I had to connect him with the rest of the Finnerty family.

Now, back in Canada, it’s so exciting to hear that Patrick has been a great mentor and friend to Antoine. It’s wonderful to see the discipleship happening in his life and in the lives of others that God has brought us to. It shows us of the treasure we may find when we truly seek him and his kingdom.

Let’s keep our eyes opened so that we may see what the Father is doing, and join with him.

Joel and Brendan Finnerty-their newsletter- this month Brendan helps out!

The Finnertys’ friend Chrissy has an AIDS widows & orphan ministry. When she mentioned the other evening that they were doing a meal and gift giveaway Brendan asked if he could help. First he helped peel potatoes for 2 hours then when all was ready, helped serve. Afterward, he handed out Christmas boxes to a couple hundred orphans.

Brendan Finnerty helping out with AIDS orphans.