Sweet Hospitality and Mutual Encouragement

Day Seven
October 27, 2015

Here in Rwanda the pineapple gets sweeter and sweeter every morning, and the hospitality continues to overwhelm us. 

After another nourishing breakfast, we joined the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda staff for their daily devotional. Rob shared a powerful message, speaking of mutual encouragement in mission. In what served to be a good snapshot of the day, and even the entire trip, he challenged us: "to be in mission with God is to be in relationship with others." After singing some hymns and praying with our brothers and sisters, we departed Kigali.

Our destination for the day was Zinga Presbytery, located in the Eastern Province. After some adventures on the steep, curvy roads of western Rwanda, the gentle, rolling hills were a welcome change.

We have been warmly received by all on this trip, but the hospitality shown by the staff at Zinga Presbytery went above and beyond. Smiles and hugs were waiting for us as soon as we got out of the car. Even better, we enjoyed a generously frosted cake and were each given an official Zinga coffee mug.

The village of Zinga was the site of the first Protestant church in Rwanda, in 1907. Funny enough, following the denomination's restructuring in 2014, Zinga is the newest of the presbyteries. We enjoyed rich conversation with the staff, with topics ranging from micro-finance to women pastors to the future of the church. Receiving reports on three churches supported by The Outreach Foundation was encouraging.

After a filling lunch, we visited one of Zinga's parishes, Kayonza church. Fourteen years ago, the congregation worshipped under trees, battling the elements each Sunday. Slowly, a brick structure was built and a roof added. Major improvements are still needed, but a full-time pastor has been hired. The ladies we spoke with could not contain their excitement and pride over Pastor Joseph, a sparkling young man set to be married next year. The church is brimming with optimism and passion: all-night prayer vigils are held each Friday night, producing an increased knowledge of God. 

The Presbytery also has plans to build new offices and a multi-purpose room next to the church. Kayonza is located at a key site: a fast-growing city situated where three major roads converge leading into Tanzania and Uganda. Much like the cities the Apostle Paul targeted, Kayonza holds vast potential for the spread of the Gospel.

The president, Thérèse Mukamakuza, repeatedly encouraged our group to dream with them. The Presbytery faces a number of challenges, yet they have not been intimidated in their mission to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. As she declared to us: "look at our faces; we are not discouraged." Our team rests in full confidence knowing that God will provide for Zinga Presbytery and Kayonza church and will use them both for his glory. We relish in the relationships formed and the opportunity to further God's mission. 

Ben Behrendt

The Outreach Foundation