Rwanda Day 4: Seeing the Church at Work
This enthusiastic servant of God is Cyprian Musabwa who, for seven years, has been Director of a ministry for "street children" which The Outreach Foundation supports called Centre Presbyterian d'Amour des Juenes. Begun by the Presbyterian Church in the wake of the genocide to take in children who had lost their parents, it functioned as an orphanage. Its mission has now changed to not only provide a home for 27 boys who have no parents or have been removed from abusive homes but it also serves another 200 "at risk" children and teens, both girls and boys, who come from very poor homes and have not done well enough in school to proceed to the secondary level. Vocational training and meals are offered along with a secure, nurturing Christian environment.
We also spent an informative half day at the offices of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR) to get a good overview of the depth and breadth of our Sister-Church as to its congregations, ministries and activities. Although we met with many people, we spent the most time with the Rev Dr Pascal Bataringaya, who is the Vice President [Vice Moderator] who spoke enthusiastically with us about the 99 (and growing!) congregations and their 300,000 members. Of the approximately 100 active pastors about 35 are women. The churches are grouped into 17 Regions [Presbyteries] and each Region has several evangelists assigned to plant new churches. One of the important ministries in each Region is to promote peace and reconciliation in the aftermath of the genocide.
The EPR established a department for Rural Development because two thirds of the churches are rural and in poor areas. Micro-lending,water improvement programs and agricultural education are its focus and are aimed at improving the quality of life of church members while helping to raise economic standards which will move each church to eventually be able to fully support its own pastor. Beyond the congregational ministries, the EPR also runs 104 primary, 11 secondary and 4 vocational schools plus 2 hospitals and 6 clinics/health centers!
We're honored to be here and humbled to experience God's work through His people in Rwanda.
Blessings, Marilyn for the Rwanda Mission Team