The Kicukiro (headquarters) Church of God located in Kigali, Rwanda, has been dedicated to the glory of God in a service at the conclusion of the 1st National Conference of the Church of God in Rwanda. The building is the result of hundreds of young people and local churches raising funds toward the Youth/World Evangelism Action (YWEA) project of the Church of God.
The theme of the conference was taken from Nehemiah 2:17b, “Come, let us build the walls of Jerusalem.”
The trauma suffered by the nation of Rwanda is well-known. Although the genocide that took place in 1994 is slowly moving into history, the pain and suffering of the people of Rwanda lingers. The Church of God in Rwanda was dealt a double blow when almost immediately following the genocide, bad decisions by trusted leaders left the church with a bruised self-image and no place in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, to call its home.
In 2004, Charles Karangwa began working with the remnant to rebuild the Church of God in Rwanda. Later Laval Marivel served as leader for the struggling church. For several years, the congregation had been nomadic, moving from one rented location to another. People had become discouraged, believing they had been forgotten by their brothers and sisters outside Rwanda. Gradually, the number of people attending the services dwindled. When Bishop Joseph Ndashe was appointed overseer of Rwanda, he found a small disheartened group of believers. Ndashe began to preach hope and healing to his sheep. He adopted “Do Not Cry” as a theme for the worship services. The road to healing in Rwanda has not been easy. Members, when giving their testimonies, were quite naturally mentioning their great losses. Many of them lost every member of their families and were left absolutely bereft as a result of the genocide. Others testified of losing mother, father, siblings . . . The grief has been palpable.
Ndashe continued preaching and ministering hope and healing. After some months, the group felt ready to purchase a property with existing buildings which would become their place of worship, with national offices and a functioning secondary school. When Ndashe approached the leadership of the Church of God in Africa, he was disappointed to hear their response. Such a purchase could not be possible. The amount needed was beyond their means.
The determined little group was growing, not only in numbers but more importantly, in hope and in faith. They continued in prayer and fasting, believing they would receive word that the purchase would, indeed, take place. And so it was to be. Following much agonizing prayer and many discussions, many negotiations and meetings, the Church of God in Rwanda, with help from Church of God World Missions, finalized the purchase of St. Patrick’s Secondary School, with all its existing buildings (and a functioning high school), as its permanent home. The biggest financial support for this center came through the 2009 YWEA project. Through this project, $350,000 was raised for use in Rwanda. In addition, in 2007, the World Missions Department purchased a large piece of property that has been sub-divided and sold to cover the purchase of St. Patrick’s Secondary School with all its finished and functioning buildings.
This story is, of course, a very shortened account of months, and years, of hard work, commitment, perseverance and above all, HOPE. The dedication of the properties on August 20, 2012 gave affirmation to the great faith of this group of believers. Surely, the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) are appropriate here:
“We are had pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
In preparation for the conference and dedication services, the excited congregation planned for approximately 650 people to attend. Their expectations were exceeded yet, there was plenty of food for all!
Sermons and lessons by leadership, including Peter Thomas, Jurgen Rudolph and Joseph Kagarama reached this group of hurting, but hopeful people.
One of the Rwandan pastors who came attended only one service during the conference. His personal grief was heavy and he decided not to attend other meetings. On Sunday, he returned to hear the message brought by Peter Thomas, Field Director of Church of God World Missions in Africa. After the service, the pastor told Overseer Ndashe the words of the message had brought healing to his soul.
May the Lord continue with this healing process in this community, which now, thanks be to God, has a permanent place of worship, and renewed hope. One of Ndashe’s themes as he has preached hope and healing has been, “Can anything good come out of Rwanda? Come, and see.” Many people came, many people saw. Many people were blessed. The future for the Church of God in Rwanda is bright, and those who have seen and been blessed are now sharing their own stories of healing and hope with others in the neighborhoods.