Since our return to Rwanda a month ago, I have started visiting Jane every Tuesday. Jane is an orphan and a widow and a mother of two. She lives in a small village in the Bugasera district made up of homes built for genocide orphans and other needy people. Half the houses were built with supplies provided by the Rwandan government. The other houses were built by the Red Cross. The houses built by the Red Cross are brand new little concrete homes with tin roofs and wooden doors and windows. They all look identical and really nice. They are currently empty, awaiting their needy occupants. Even though the appearance of this little village is so organized and even pleasant, I sense a hollow, empty feeling while I am there.
While on furlough I was convicted to pursue a friendship with Jane and let God lead that friendship where ever He wants. When one visits a village where everyone living there qualifies as “vulnerable”, it is easy to see countless opportunities to provide aid, to DO something to help. However right now, I feel a nudging to listen and learn, not DO, not yet.
Last week I was reading something written by Oswald Chambers. He was using the passage from 2 Corinthians 10 that says,
“We are human, but we don’t wage war with human plans and methods. We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds. With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ.”
Chambers says, “How much Christian work there is today which has never been disciplined, but has simply sprung into being by impulse! In Our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father.” Chambers goes on to say, “This is the day when practical work is overemphasized, and the saints who are bringing every project into captivity are criticized and told that they are not in earnest for God or for souls.”
I had never before thought about good Christian development projects while reading Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 10. I believe Oswald Chambers is saying we need to take our ideas of good and helpful projects and make even those obedient to Christ. I do, however, pray daily for spiritual discernment to know when God is giving the green light to begin something of a physical nature. For now I am listening, observing and hopefully learning in Bugasera.
Now to explain the title of this post. “Nubwambere nyoye ubushera” means ‘The first time I drank ubushera’. Last Tuesday, while I was helping Jane prepare ubugari and sauce, she brought me a glass filled to the top with a murky, brown beverage (there’s a picture in the slideshow below). It didn’t really have much of a smell. She handed me the glass and told me it was ‘ubushera’, a very popular drink among Rwandans living in the village.
Ubushera is made from sorghum. The week before we had had a discussion about this drink. She had told me it was non-alcoholic and I supposed now she wanted me to try it for myself. Ancille, the 21 year old genocide orphan who accompanies me to Bugasera each week, assured me that it is very delicious. Ancille took a big gulp, smiled and said, “It’s delicious!” Jane poured herself a glass and they both looked at me expectantly. I took a sip and I am sorry to say that I thought I might throw-up. By the look on Jane’s and Ancille’s faces, I realized I needed to drink my whole glass and somehow enjoy it!
We were sitting behind Jane’s house which has an outstanding view of the beautiful valley across from her small village. I looked out across the valley and pleaded with God to help me drink my ubushera in a way that honored my hostess. I took another swallow, a little bigger this time, and tried not to make an ugly face. Jane went back to work on our meal so I put my drink down to help some more. Three more times I picked up my glass and before taking a swallow, I looked across the valley and pleaded with God to help me. After my fourth prayer and my fourth swallow, one of Jane’s neighbors joined us and Ancille’s glass was refilled. Jane joined us and we sat in a tight circle near the cooking fire chatting and drinking ubushera. It was then that I realized the ubushera didn’t taste so bad after all. I wasn’t going to throw-up and I would finish my whole glass! Not only that but I was being included by these Rwandan women in what was probably a very normal activity for them. I wanted to dance a little jig in praise to God for helping me drink my ubushera and giving me the honor and gift of being among these beautiful women.
I look forward to many more cultural lessons and shared experiences with Rwandans like this one. I pray that during my visits to Jane’s, God can use me to be hands and feet and arms (and sometimes a stomach) to share tangibly His love for these people. May my heart always be open to His will and His timing in all things. May the hollowness and emptiness in Jane’s village be exchanged for fulfillment and joy because of their obedience to Christ.