October 22, 2015
After a beautiful drive through the hills of Rwanda, we arrived at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS). Originally founded by the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda to teach theology, it is now owned and managed by six Protestant denominations and offers a variety of degree programs. Vice Chancellor Rev. Prof. Elisee Musemakweli and Deputy Vice Chancellor Rev. Prof. Viateur Ndikumana were our hosts for the day. We toured the campus and learned about the history, vision, programs, future plans, and current challenges of the institution. We toured the new library that is nearing completion and learned that half of it will be dedicated as a public library and computer resource center, including a special section for children's books. Rev. Catherine Day, PC(USA) minister and missionary currently serving as a professor at PIASS, shared that a unique strength of this seminary program is that it fully integrates the needs of the community – including the challenges associated with genocide recovery – in the training of the pastors.
We also visited our seminary students Donatha and Agnes. Both women are being sponsored by First Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama and by The Outreach Foundation and are training to become Presbyterian pastors.
Back in Kigali for the evening, we joined with two different community prayer cells. These small groups of five to ten families from the same parish meet weekly in homes to share fellowship, prayer, and Bible study. We were warmly welcomed and engaged in a group discussion on the role of women in evangelism.
Our second day in Rwanda was filled with many examples of true community building. PIASS's ecumenical structure and focus and their inclusion of the community needs in everything from their library space to their pastor training was inspirational. The small and intimate prayer cell setting, in the words of our friends, "allows us to know our neighbors and makes us closer in the family of God." We are learning from our global mission partners how to build and maintain stronger community ties. We are especially thankful this day for God's gift of Global Community.