Greetings from Ruhengeri, Musanze, Rwanda! This past August our family successfully transitioned from Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali to Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri) in the north west part of the country. As we settle into our life and home here we are working hard to become a part of our new community through language learning and relationship building. Our prayer is that God will use us to be catalysts for community transformation.
Reflections from Nehemiah 1
When people talk about community building, community development or community transformation, they often turn to Nehemiah to gain insight and inspiration. Recently, as I was reflecting on Nehemiah Chapter 1, several things stood out to me.
Jeremiah was curious to know how those in Jerusalem were doing. He was concerned about their welfare and sought out information. He wasn’t a citizen of Jerusalem and we don’t think that he’d even been there before, yet he was concerned. Transformational leaders don’t just care about their own well-being. They are also concerned about the well-being of outside communities, cities and nations. Our love for Rwandans will push us to consider not our own needs and struggles but also those in the community in which we are living.
I also asked myself why he wept and mourned for a people he didn’t know and a place he hadn’t seen? Perhaps, his heart was broken simply because of the suffering of God’s people. It seems that this news from Jerusalem came as a total shock to him, having not been aware of the desolate state of Jerusalem and it’s people. But once he was aware, his heart was led to compassion. The more we get to know our community, it’s brokenness, suffering and need, the more our hearts long for transformation and renewal.
It was also interesting to me that following his mourning his heart turned to confession, not only of the sins of the nation, but his own sins and even the sins of his own family. “I confess that I have sinned against you.” I’ve heard it said many times that transformation begins with self. So does confession. Why should he feel guilty for the sins of others? He realized that he too was also unrighteous.
As I reflect on the suffering in Rwanda, my heart too is sick. Why was I spared the horror that Rwandans experienced? I have never suffered as they have suffered. Perhaps part of Nehemiah’s pain was the realization that it could have just as easily been himself and his family who experienced the destruction of their home and nation. Yet, he was spared as I and my family have been spared.
Finally, Nehemiah reminds us that Jerusalem was the place God had chosen for His name to be honored. Yet, it’s current state was no longer bringing honor to God. When people hear the name “Rwanda,” almost without question they think of the 1994 genocide. An event that reminds them of darkness and brings no honor to God.
Today though, Rwandans are writing a new, future story for their nation. We are praying that this new story will overshadow and even replace the dark history so that when people think of Rwanda, God will be honored. We are praying for a spiritual revival that recaptures the hearts and minds of the nation. A discipleship movement that wipes away the tears, heals the wounds and unites the people.
RaeAn is pictured above during a visit to Emmanueli Nsengimana’s home, one of our new friend’s in Musanze. You can see RaeAn holding the hand of his newborn son, Aimé (French name for “Beloved” or “To Love”). Perhaps the new story we are praying for will be written by the new generations represented in this picture as God raises them up. New generations who will write love, joy, unity, righteousness, truth and peace into the future story of Rwanda.
God had chosen Jerusalem to be a place where His name would be honored. Join us as we pray asking God to choose the city of Ruhengeri, the valley of Musanze and the nation of Rwanda as places where His name will be honored.