Reflecting on Rwanda

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This update comes from Eddie and Bonita serving in Rwanda, Africa. The country recently marked 20 years since the terrible genocide rocked that nation, and the whole world. Eddie was recently interviewed on TV about his perspective — that clip is linked to at the end of this post.

Construction in progress

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We have a good start on construction of the new CentrePEACE church outside Kigali, Rwanda. People are coming to Christ, believers are growing in their faith, choirs are singing, and young ministers are learning to preach the Word. All are eagerly anticipating the switch to a church with walls and a roof.

Three walls are built, only one more to go before we raise the roof!

Many of our church people, including a large number of women, have been hired to help with construction on tasks that don’t require special skills. This provides much needed income.

Click here to see Eddie’s TV interview about his work with interPEACE. (The link will take you to site that is external, and unaffiliated with the EFCCM.)

Rwanda: Remembering the Genocide

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We just received a sobering account from Eddie and Bonita, serving in Rwanda. Excepts of it are provided below.

“Today is April 7, 2011. Right this moment we are watching President Kagame speaking at the stadium which we can see on the next hill. It is just past noon. The ceremonies began this morning and will continue through the night.”

“Seventeen years ago today the blood started to flow on the streets where we walk our daughters to school, where we drive to go to church and run our errands each day.”

“What moves me the most is not the moving dramas, songs, and speeches. But in the background the sound of screaming breaks my heart. It is not the sound of someone grieving. It is the sound of people reliving the horror. They actually believe that their lives are in danger at this moment, that the killing is going on now, and someone is after them.”

It’s hard for us to imagine the horror that was unleashed in that 100 day span. But it’s not hard for the survivors to imagine. It’s impossible for them to forget. Post-traumatic stress disorder is widely evident, and people still live with crippling fear. We believe that there can be no healing or peace in any of this without the message and hope of Christ. The great challenge is that the scale of the atrocity was massive, but real healing happens at the individual level, one-on-one.

But this challenge is exactly what called Eddie and Bonita to service in Rwanda. They are providing trauma counselling (there are sessions on the 11th and the 23rd of this month) and they are providing leadership and direction in their local church as well. Pray for healing in Rwanda, especially as the country spends the month of April remembering and mourning. And pray that Eddie and Bonita would be used mightily in this sensitive time to introduce people to our healing and life-giving Saviour.

Update from Rwanda

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The following update was distilled from Eddie and Bonita’s recent update. In it they give a kind of summary snapshot of the work that they’ve been involved in over the last two years, and there are some exciting things here that we’d like you to be aware of.

Celebrating one year of ministry in Gahanga (just outside Kigali) and the opening of our largest gazebo. The city administrators have not allowed us to build a permanent structure, but this newest and largest gazebo brings the total number of gazebos to three. They are better than nothing. They allow us to stay out of the rain. But they are not conducive to ministering to the needs of people who have suffered trauma. We are shifting our attention to a smaller site in Kigali for construction of a Centre that will accommodate trauma counseling and training. Please pray for this project.

Next to the gazebos is the soccer pitch where practice happens for four teams. All four teams are doing a great job of representing their community. At first they faced hardship playing against teams with better equipment, shoes, and uniforms, but they persevered. A number of donors from Regina and Calgary have contributed to their uniforms, shoes, balls, and other equipment (thank you!). The younger boys’ team placed first in a friendly competition next to Kigali’s stadium, and the girls’ team came in second!

Bonita has begun a business called “Sugar and Spice Kigali”. The business was created to provide income for young Rwandans who have no other means of supporting themselves. It also provides them with valuable work experience, unique skills, and an opportunity to learn English.

Our employees have done an exceptional job learning to make fancy cookies. The new year will have them learning the art of cake design. Our employees are currently working part time. We hope to expand the business enough to employ them full time.

These are our three Rwandan “daughters” (in blue). We met them in the soccer ministry and they still enjoy playing. They come from very hard childhoods.

From top to bottom, their names are Uwera, Verena, and Agnes. It has been so rewarding to see them change right before our eyes. The oldest girl came with so much hurt she looked like she would just as soon hit you as greet you. I’m not sure she even knew how to react to kindness. Now she smiles often and skips around the house. You can hardly recognize that it’s the same girl.

We have been looking at schools and praying about where they can get the best education. We would like to send them to a school close to Gahanga, where they grew up. This school will cost about $220 per girl per term, and there are three terms per year. That means a total cost $660 for each girl for one year. We are looking for sponsors to assist us in providing for their future. Maybe it’s you!

Our ministry in Rwanda would not be possible without the generous support of our friends and faith family in Canada and the U.S. Thank you so much for investing in a brighter future for the people of this nation. If you would like to get in touch with Eddie and Bonita directly, the easiest way is by e-mail: eddie.bonita@gmail.com.

Setback in Rwanda

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I just received a note from Eddie and Bonita. They were the recent victims of a robbery. While the thieves got their laptop, TV and a wallet complete with credit and ID cards, they mention that it could have been much worse. Of course, the most significant impact is emotional. In this case the authorities suspect the guards, a suspicion not shared by the family.

They have been given hope that some of these things may be recovered, and the authorities seem to be acting on their behalf. While that is somewhat reassuring, there are no reports of any of their things showing up yet.

In the same time, another missionary in the area was beaten up by the church leaders he was mentoring. In a country trying to heal from mass brutality a decade and a half ago, it’s disheartening to see that violence is still so close to the surface.

Please pray for provision, protection, healing, for peace and for persistent hope on behalf of Eddie, Bonita and their family.

A Team in Rwanda (Updated)

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We’re privileged to introduce our first official EFCCM team serving in Rwanda! Rwanda has a massive need for healing. The team visiting the country from Canada is composed of professional counsellors and counselling students. They are facing firsthand the pain and trauma still very much in evidence in Rwanda, and are offering practical assistance. The team is keeping an online journal detailing their experiences, and offering pictures as well.

Check it out by clicking here.

Update: I found another piece talking about this team’s activities and goals, right on Providence College’s website. Click here to read the news release.