Scholarships for Presbyterians at PIASS - June 2015 Update


We are happy to share the following story from one of our partner congregations, First Presbyterian Church Huntsville, AL:

Meet our Rwandan Seminary Students – Donatha and Agnes
by Heidi Meadows, First Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Jeremiah 1: 4-10

This passage from Jeremiah – and verse five in particular, acknowledging that the Lord has formed, consecrated and appointed his called servants as prophets to the nations – has provided comfort, direction, and affirmation to two young women that have recently been integrated into our First Presbyterian Church family. The Outreach Foundation invited First Presbyterian Church in Huntsville to sponsor seminary students from Rwanda, Africa as an extension of our current mission activities in the country. We accepted that invitation, and we have been blessed to build a close relationship with two very special young women who are currently excelling in their college and seminary studies at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) in Butare, Rwanda. Both are sponsored by our EPR (Eglise Presbyterienne au Rwanda) Presbyterian mission partners, and both plan to become EPR pastors following their graduations.

Donatha Ndayisa (left) is from the Gakenke District in the Northern Province. She and her family are members of the small Busake Chapel in their village and also attend services at the newly dedicated Shyorongi Parish, just north of Kigali. She was chosen by her Presbytery of Kigali (and Kigali President, Reverend Juvenal Rwamunyana) to attend PIASS. Donatha was born on December 15, 1988. She is 26 years old and the oldest of four children. Her three younger brothers range in age from 13 to 21 years old. Her parents Alphonse and Mariana have been farmers their whole lives.

Agnes Nyiraminani (right) is from the Karongi District in the Western Province. She is a member of the Kirambo Parish of the Rubengera Presbytery. Agnes is married to Jean Ntaganzwa and they have a daughter, Sifa Benitha Ingiriyeneza, who just celebrated her first birthday on March 18, 2015. Agnes was chosen by her Presbytery of Rubengera (and Rubengera President, Reverend Albertine Nyiraneza) to attend PIASS. Agnes was born on June 11, 1988, and she is also 26 years old. Agnes has 10 brothers and sisters: she is the middle child, with five older and five younger siblings. Her brothers and sisters range in age from 15 to 35 years old. Only two siblings have finished secondary (high) school: her youngest sister is still in elementary school. Of the eleven children, only Agnes has had the opportunity to attend college. Agnes lost her mother in 2002, when Agnes was only 13. Her father later remarried, and he and his current wife have two young children. He is an elder at the Kirambo Parish. One older sister finished high school and is a teacher. Only one of her brothers has finished high school, but he still has no job. All of Agnes’ other grown siblings are cultivators (farmers).

Meeting our Students:
We met Donatha at the PIASS campus in Butare, when we went to visit the seminary. We were honored to exchange greetings and to share a computer with her, as a gift from our congregation. Donatha and her family also joined us on Sunday, October 12 for the Shyorongi Parish Dedication. We met Agnes and her beautiful baby daughter Sifa a few days later, during the dedication of the Rukamiro Parish on October 15. Both young women have felt called to the ministry from a very young age.

Donatha’s Story: As a child Donatha said that she felt “even in my bones” that the Presbyterian Church is her life. She was touched and led by the evangelists that governed their chapel. In high school, as a student government representative, she encouraged students to pray, be involved in the worship team, and to sing in the choir. Following graduation from high school and prior to being chosen to enroll at PIASS, Donatha served as an elder at her Busake Chapel. In elementary and high school, Donatha enjoyed a diverse variety of classes. Her favorite subjects were technology, science, music, geography, history and religion. She really enjoys studying theology now at PIASS. If she were not able to be a student and seminary candidate at PIASS, Donatha would still choose to serve in the church, helping the evangelists at home as she has done in the past. Even though her parents are farmers, Donatha would not choose to work in agriculture. She did not enjoy working in the fields as a child. She also wisely noted that agriculture has no crops that would help her develop her skills – and she well knows the poverty that her parents experience, with farming as their only option. Donatha hopes her younger brother Silas will be able to attend university and study Information Communications Technology when he finishes high school, as he is very talented in all things related to technology. She isn’t sure what her younger brothers Eugene and Evariste will choose to pursue, but she also hopes that they will have options outside of farming.

Agnes’ Story: From her childhood Agnes has liked the work of God, and she feels strongly called to study theology. Her wish is to specialize in Christian Education and to help young people prepare for a good future. In her daily life, she likes to sing, pray, and help with many activities in the church. Agnes’ favorite subjects in elementary and high school were social sciences and religious studies. Her favorite subjects at PIASS are Homiletics (sermon preparation and preaching), Ethics and Information Communications Technology. If she were not able to study to be a pastor, Agnes would choose to work in education as a teacher or serve as a social worker. Farming is a difficult life, but since only two of Agnes’ siblings 
were able to even finish high school, farming is the only future for the majority of her family. Agnes feels very blessed to be attending university and preparing for a future career as an ordained pastor. Both women enjoy helping with ‘protocol’ within the church. In their environment, that means that they greet members and visitors, participate in worship, assist the elderly, serve at receptions, answer questions, and take up the offering. Basically, they are willing to help in any way that the minister or evangelist or congregation needs.

Favorite Bible Verses:
Donatha’s favorite Bible verse is Psalm 125:1 “Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” She loves this assurance that the Lord surrounds and protects his people.

Agnes’ favorite bible verse is Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” She says that this verse deeply touches her and builds up her heart in her daily life and helps encourage her as she pursues her degree in theology. 

Thanks to FPC Huntsville: In the words of our dear sisters: “I thank you for deciding to care for me. I hope you are holding me in your prayers. I send greetings and blessings to the whole congregation.” Their sponsor, Reverend Albertine, also adds: “I thank the Almighty God for giving you and your friends that gift of loving and caring for others, especially those in need. May God bless you all, in Jesus’ name. It is a privilege to personally know these young ladies and be a part of their journey of education and ordination. We thank you for caring for our sisters in Christ. We thank you for helping to build the kingdom in an even greater way, by providing resources so that these faithful and dedicated women can pursue their dreams of becoming Presbyterian pastors, to serve Christ and the people of Rwanda.”

Read more about the ministry of PIASS by clicking here.

Amount needed in 2015

The Outreach Foundation seeks to raise at least $850 per month for scholarships for five students per year at PIASS. To make a donation, click the Donate Now link in the sidebar.

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