What made The Salvation Army come to Rwanda at all? On Sunday we went to the birthplace of it all, the town of Kayenzi. On our way there we, as usual before a meeting, passed Salvationists walking to the corps. Our car passed them at least 5 km from the venue.
The reason behind it all was that International Headquarters emergency team were asked to come and help after the genocide in 1994. The team came to Kayenzi to help with registration of people returning home and giving counselling in their traumas. We also build some houses since many had been destroyed. People asked why a church did this and so we began sharing our faith and gathered people to worship.
The rest is history and here I come with a project coordinator from Sweden. We continue to serve the community by an equal share of development projects and conveying the living word from God. That is, of course, done in equal partnership with the Rwandan leaders. I would have no message at all without the equally inspired translator Francois.
This Sunday the meeting is in some senses very un-African. We begin 10am sharp and end two hours later. They evidently can make exceptions and have short meetings when busy Europeans visit.
In this town the corps also runs a preschool in cooperation with the local community leaders. It is a pilot program to raise the standards of the coming generation. 37 children attend. In order to help the families to raise their standards, and pay school fees, the Salvation Army also runs an animal bank and sewing classes.
Back in Kigali we stop to look at the new corps building in Batsinda that is under construction. It will take around 300 people and will be the new location for Kigali corps. Next to the hall a new preschool will be built. That project will be co-funded by Sweden and Japan.
As our visit come to an end I naturally reflect on the many impressions from the week. I am impressed by the leadership team in the Command. God gave a clear vision to Colonel Nyambala to build capacity, to equip and develop officers and local leaders. A stable foundation is crucial to growth.
I am impressed by how women’s groups are organised and developed. There are meetings for the girls, the young women and adult women. Each section has their team of leaders. Command Headquarters prepare a program book that the women can buy. Getting cash for that is a sacrifice – but then no development comes without a cost. That goes for the rich world too. It sometimes looks like we are more reluctant to make personal sacrifices for the church to grow.
No visit here is complete without going to the local market. I got myself a colourful African dress. Colourful can be the word for the people, the countries of Rwanda and Burundi and for the way they worship and serve the Lord. I got a bit of more colour into my life. Thank you Rwanda.
Pictures below: Building for the pre-scool./Sewing classes for future income generation./Sharing bookmarks from India South West with women ministry leaders./The local market in Kigali.