The tie-dye wall hanging in our office of an African map with a small Canadian flag over Rwanda has gained new significance for us lately. We are finally beginning to see some results of the efforts spent on moving to and getting settled in this sad but beautiful country. During our regular prayer walks in Kagarama with our Rwandan friend Antoine, God has been demonstrating what He means by “I will build My church”. People have called to us to come and speak with them and then responded to the gospel message by receiving Jesus as friend and savior. We held our first meeting a few days after and 7 people came. At our next meeting a week later over 20 men and women came with a hunger for teaching and fellowship. Twelve people ordered Kinya-rwanda Bibles. We buy them for $7 and sell for $1 which is about an average day’s wage and this gives them ownership; something we want to encourage in all aspects of our ministry. We noticed leadership potential in 2 of the couples at the second meeting and as we would like to keep the groups under 12 we hope to begin new groups in their houses soon. Livin works locally when he can get it. He describes himself as a vagabond. He asked for a Bible and after a few encounters with him and satisfied that he would not sell it, we gave him one. We have had some prayer times together and he has memorized some of the Psalms. Ilare lives next door to Antoine with his wife and 2 children. He became a Christian last week and asked for a Bible in French as he is Congolese and does not speak such good Kinyarwandan. Pat’s French has improved dramatically in the past 6 months and it is an extra challenge but very rewarding to evangelize and pray in French. Most of the people coming to us have been raised in Roman Catholic homes but have not known a personal relationship with Jesus. Please pray for all these new converts and those that God will be adding to us. The harvest is indeed plentiful here and the physical, emotional and spiritual needs are great.
We are 4 months into the dry season now and expecting the rains in September. In many ways it has been a season of blessing for us. We have had many prayers answered since our last newsletter. We received Missionary Visas for 2 years thanks to our friends at the Quaker Church. We now have a generator when the power goes (a regular occurrence.) Water has been less of a problem as we learn to be more careful how we use it. Pat is making progress with the language and the first missionary teacher arrives next week to begin the home school co-op that 5 families are joining.
Michelle Levy who came to Rwanda to help us settle in, returned to Canada in June. She was such a great blessing to us and it was difficult to see her go. She developed a true heart for Africa while she was here and we feel that the experience she gained will certainly help shape her future. We were pleased to be able to facilitate a short term medical mission for David LaPierre from the Kentville Vineyard. David is beginning Med School in Halifax in September and we were able to link him to some hospitals in Rwanda. He spent one week at Gahini and one week at Kibobora. He was amazed at how much hands on experience he was allowed to get, which in Canada would not be possible until the 4th year.
We have also been getting a feel for what other ministries are doing in visiting an orphanage, participating in a street boy program and helping Val’s friend Elsie with her women’s ministry. We had a great “give away” one day when they were working on our road and we made tea for around 70 people.
We set up a small fund for our workers and some have made use of the fund to buy land or to put windows in their house. We are hoping that some others may use the fund to set up in business. On a much sadder note, our house help and Pat’s language helper Musonera was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Gacaca court. We do not have all the details yet but he intends to appeal. His wife was very grateful to take over his employment as she is left to take care of his parents and 3 children. School fees for the children will be a particular challenge for her in September. Please pray for them.
In July we spent a weekend in Burundi visiting with the Vineyard church. Our friend Antoine accompanied us and he enjoyed the opportunity of seeing a vineyard first hand. His dad is from Burundi, his mom is from Rwanda and he was born and raised in Congo. He speaks all these languages and he’s a mixture of Hutu and Tutsi. His heart is very much for reconciliation. It’s quite a long drive to Bujumbura, about 6-7 hours but very pretty. Up and down mountains dotted with banana plantations and small houses. It was awesome to see what God is doing with the church in Burundi. Despite being in Kirundi it felt like going home. The atmosphere was lovely, very free of religious pretence and a great sense of community among the people. Patrick preached, Val shared, Brendan taught the kids a song and Joel taught Sunday school. We had such a good time connecting with Ananias and Clarette, the pastors. We talked a lot about building relationships among the Vineyard churches in our Great Lakes region, and praying about how we can support each other more. Being there has certainly given us a lot of hope in terms of Vineyard here in Rwanda.
We spent the first week of August at the missionary conference at Kumbya, a beautiful peninsula on Lake Kivu. Conditions were fairly primitive with no running water or power and sleeping in grass huts but it was a wonderful experience. Missionaries in East Africa have been meeting there since 1946. There were about 200 people at the gathering who are serving in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo. Some were third and even fourth generation missionaries and had lots of great God stories. The principal speaker was an Anglican pastor from England who taught six sessions based on 1 Cor. 1-4. We had a discussion time every day centering around cultural training on African friendships and money matters. All about loans, people asking for money, the basis for friendship in this culture, etc. The afternoons were free time and everyone gathered on the beach. We appreciated the time for connecting and picking the brains of all those experienced people. Pat did a great job with worship for the week. A VBS team came from the USA and did a program for the kids every morning. They even brought lots of treats. The boys had a wonderful time and made many new friends. Unfortunately, they live quite far away but it was encouraging for them to see other missionary kids and even those who can speak the local languages. Joel actually made history that week. There is an island in the lake that is 2 1/2 kilometers from the beach and every year they have a swim to this island. The swimmers are followed by locals in dug out canoes to make sure they get picked up if they are tired. Joel decided to try, along with a couple of teenage boys who agreed to stay with him. We definitely didn’t think he’d make it all the way but 15 minutes after Val arrived at the island there he was!! He completed in 1 hour and 30 minutes. I think what stayed with him though, was the fact that the older boy had encouraged him all the way. Apparently he is the youngest in Kumbya history to complete the swim.
Imagine how surprised we were to meet Dougie Dug Dug there!! He had been invited by a church in Kigali to do a kids extravaganza and they had come to Kumbya to prepare. The following week the kids participated in their VBS and Doug, his wife and son had Sunday lunch with us and walked and prayed in our neighborhood. It was a great time of fellowship.
It’s been so wonderful to hear from so many of you over the last months. We are so grateful for skype and we have enjoyed our many conversations. It’s strange to think that it is cheaper to talk to someone in Canada than a cell phone call locally. Thanks for all the letters, cards, e-mails, presents and especially prayers. We certainly appreciate your love and support. We’re just sorry if we haven’t been able to respond to each one of you personally or quickly; however as we now have internet at home, communication is getting easier…What a relief not to have to drive into town to the internet café to check our e-mails.
We welcome your continued prayers for all that God is doing here in Rwanda.
The Finnerty Family.