The first two weeks in August saw Marlyn and myself leave the comforts of home for the unknown delights of Rwanda. We were on a journey to renew and build relationships with our partners in Shyogwe diocese in the southern province of this beautiful country.
We did not know what to expect (other than the unexpected), despite good preparation with CMS Ireland and our fellow travellers from St. Marks Armagh and St. Donard’s Belfast.
We were met at the airport by Bishop Jered and next day seven of us arrived on the outskirts of Muhanga in southern province. Our accommodation looked lovely from outside and we quickly got used to power cuts and no hot water. But the food was very good! Straight into our programme, we visited small churches up long dirt tracks and met with people full of the joy of the Lord.
We saw church building with mud bricks, people committed to God and each other, and an enthusiasm for reaching out to others and helping themselves. This is a diocese interested in helping its people to grow out of extreme poverty. They have nothing materially, but the joy of the Lord flows through them and they give thanks for everything. We have learned a lot from them.
Our programme included meeting with children and young people, as well as cell groups, Mothers Union and father’s
union. I had the pleasure of preaching in St. Matthias’s church on the Sunday with an interpreter, and we even had shirts and dresses made for us by the Mothers’ Union.
Overall there are so many highlights and memories. We hope to arrange an evening to show some photos and let everyone know in more detail what we have learned and what we as a parish can do to help these wonderful brothers and sisters help themselves. The diocese has a truly holistic approach to ‘church’ and we really can learn so much from them: not least the way they put into practice the words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
God bless, Adam