Praying for Gisenyi Disciple Makers

Praying for Rwandan Disciple Makers!

Charles Kabeza recently visited Gisenyi, Rwanda to follow up on three disciple makers who are actively involved in starting and leading Discovery Bible Studies. Here is his report… As you read, pray for Innocent, Vedaste and Christine, that the Lord would fill them with the Spirit of Truth and Power as well as wisdom as they make disciples of Jesus. Vedaste and Christine are pictured above…

Vedaste

We had planed to meet  at a college where he introduced the DBS. I met him there and I happened to meet a couple of others who are in that team, unfortunately many of them are still in holidays. But with small number I noticed that their meetings are about reading and studying bible (Vedaste introduced to them the DBS model for studying the Bible).

Christine

Since a couple of days ago, she has been in fasting prayers, so I managed to meet her this morning. My idea was for her to meet with Vedaste and let them know each other. This morning we were so blessed to have a DBS together and remind each other what God is doing in our lives. Christine gave us her testimony how she got to know Jesus and how she commit to serve him. At the end I asked them both to work as a team that is focusing on making Jesus disciples more than promoting this religion than that other.

Innocent

Yesterday I met him, and our conversation was about the progress of putting into practice what he learned in the last DMM (Disciple Making Movements) workshop. He is still confronting with his church leaders who think that his mind is to start a new denomination, yet his desire is about making the youth into a real disciples of Jesus. Though he still invite the youth for soccer every sunday morning and through that soccer some young people changed and get baptized.

I tried to encourage him and let him know that we pray for him. Finally, I asked him to join our team to Sudan and he said that he is interested to that opportunity.

Nubwambere Nyoye Ubushera

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.

Rwanda’s Children of Rape

I came across this BBC article today and wanted to share it with you. Powerful and moving…O Lord, let your healing hand rest upon the nation of Rwanda.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8768943.stm

Hello Rwanda – 2009/2010 Crowson Family Photo Album

Our furlough is less than one week away and we are busy getting our presentations ready for  supporters, family and prayer warriors. We have so much to tell all of you!

I finished our “Hello Rwanda” Crowson Family Photo Album which will give you a glimpse into our new life and ministry in Rwanda. There are several biographical stories of some of our new Rwandan friends which we believe you will enjoy as well as updates on our vision and mission in Rwanda.

We are so grateful for so many of you who bless, support and pray for us! God is shining his light in the darkness and transforming a hurting nation. Praise be to His Name!

You can click this link to download the “Hello Rwanda – 2009/2010 Crowson Family Photo Album” in pdf format. It’s almost 14mb, so make sure you have a good internet connection. Also, it’s best displayed in Adobe Acrobat 8 or higher viewing two pages at a time side by side. Enjoy:)

Here’s an excerpt from the first page of the Photo Album…

Our family transitioned from Togo, West Africa to Rwanda, Central Africa in January, 2009 to begin a new life and ministry.

Rwanda, a country affectionately known as ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’, is a land filled with wonderful people living in an unparalleled story of recovery. The culture is colorful and the people are warm and receptive. In spite of their tragic history, Rwandans are filled with a hope and excitement about their future that will inspire every visitor.

We are thankful to God to be apart of His Transforming Work in Rwanda.

GACS Welcomes President Kagame

These articles were posted on the New Times website today.

Kagame explores new education partnerships.

USA – PRESIDENT Paul Kagame, Wednesday, visited the US based Greater Atlanta Christian School (GACS) located in Atlanta, Georgia with an aim of exploring an education partnership between the school and Rwanda.

The President is on a working visit to the US.

In line with the country’s vision 2020, GACS, is set to establish a Central Africa School of Excellence which will be based in Rwanda and Kagame was given an overview of the school’s master plan that will serve about 2000 students when complete.

According to the school’s president, Dr. David Fincher, the next step will be to determine the site of the complex in Rwanda.

In his remarks, President Kagame said that Rwanda is committed to investing in education so that the country can develop based on the knowledge and skills of its people.

“In Rwanda, education is a top priority because we consider it to be the key to unlocking our development objectives. All studies have shown that investments in human capital have invariably produced high economic returns,” Kagame said.

“We have no doubt that education empowers people, enlightens them, and in the end creates wealth for them”.

He added that Rwanda has made it a priority to provide access to quality education.

The President and his delegation were given a guided tour around various sections of the school including classrooms, ICT laboratories and recreational halls among others. The school was founded in 1961.

On the same day, Kagame travelled to Bentonville, Arkansas, where he met 81 Rwandan students who study under the Presidential Scholarship Program.

While addressing the group, President Kagame urged the students to excel in their studies after which they should return home ready to apply the acquired knowledge and contribute to the country’s development process.

The students study at five different colleges and universities in Arkansas under the Hendrix Program that supports top Rwandan students who qualify for the Rwanda Presidential Scholarship.

When it began in 2007, only four students were supported by the program. To-date, the number has grown to 81 and this year, 30 more will be admitted.

The students are pursuing degrees in Science and Technology with the largest group in the engineering faculty.

10 to graduate from Oklahoma University

USA – TEN Rwandan students will today graduate along with 300 classmates at the US based Oklahoma Christian University (OCU).

They will be the first to complete their studies under the Presidential Scholars programme that was signed between President Paul Kagame and OCU, during his first visit to the university in 2006.

Kagame will be one of the keynote speakers the graduation ceremony, and the First Lady,. Jeannette Kagame, is set to receive an honorary doctorate for her significant contribution to the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty.

In a phone interview with The New Times, Aline Kabbatende, one of the 10 students, expressed her joy to be finally able to acquire a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering.

“I am very excited to finally come to the end and it will also be a rare opportunity, especially for us who are out of the country, to have our President and First Lady attending this graduation ceremony,” Kabbatende said.

“I believe that there is great need for skills in my country and I am hoping to acquire a job on return and contribute to my country’s development. Certainly, I also intend to go for further studies because I still feel like this is still not enough”.

Four others will also graduate in Electrical Engineering, two in Chemistry, one each in Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and the other in Computer Science.

Kabattende added that from the beginning of last year, the scholars programme was also expanded to facilitate 10 Rwandan graduates to pursue their Masters’ Studies at OCU annually.

OCU’s president, Mike O’Neal, affirmed that Rwandan students have been outstanding performers in class and good citizens in the university community.

“Oklahoma Christian has formed a strong relationship with the leaders of Rwanda to help meet the long-term needs of President Kagame’s Vision 2020,” O’Neal said.

Under the Rwandan Presidential Scholars program, 10 top Rwandan high school students are brought to OC each year and today there are 60 students at the university.

Umunsi w’Abagore

Today was the International Day of Women or in Kinyarwanda, Umunsi w’Abagore.  Twenty-three women from my neighborhood gathered together to celebrate the day.  There were some men as well and more children than I took time to count.  The day was celebrated with sodas, goat kebabs and boiled matoki as well as many speeches given by both women and men.

The women took the opportunity to dress up traditional Rwandan style, they looked beautiful!  My neighbor, Beatrice, came over to my house and dressed me up in some of her clothes before we went to the celebration.  I was so glad!  For a few moments during the day I forgot I was white and felt like I blended in.

I want to share one story told by the lady who made the first speech of the day.  This woman is a young mother who has earned a masters degree in economics and works for a bank.  She started her speech by encouraging women that getting an education is very important.  She had to work hard for her degrees and earned them without her family’s support.  She went on to remind the women that even though they get an education and a job, there first responsibility is in their homes.  She told them to make sure that they keep their homes nice and that their children are well cared for.  She told them that even if they have a job and perhaps earn more money than their husband, he is still the leader of the family.  She shared an interesting Rwandan proverbial story with the group.

Here is the story:

One day a man came to a widow’s house wanting to have sex with her.  She told him to come back to her house later.  While he was gone, she cooked many dishes for him.  Even though she used a variety of ingredients in the various dishes, the main ingredient of them all was beans.  When the man returned, he noticed that she had prepared some food for him.  He began lifting the lids off the different  dishes and what did he find?  Beans, beans and beans.  The woman said to the man, “Even though we women are all a little different, really we are all the same.  Go home to your wife and leave me alone!”

I thought that it was a profound story and very interesting that it was told on a day like today and in a group of women.  I have found it to be true from the United States to rural Togo to urban Rwanda!  Woman are women, we just come in many different flavors.  I enjoyed the day observing these women encourage and empower one another.  I feel honored to be living among them for this season of my life.

Here are a few pictures from the day…

DMM Rwanda – 5 Year Planning Retreat

This weekend the Rwanda Team will be having a 5 Year Planning retreat together. We’ve worked hard to develop the vision, mission and core values for the Disciple Making Movement in Rwanda that we are praying for. Now it’s time to set objectives and goals that we can work towards to accomplish the Vision that God has given us. Please join us in prayer for the weekend…

  • Please pray that the Lord would open our hearts and minds to see Rwanda, it’s people and their needs, as He sees them.
  • Please pray that the Lord would give us eyes to see clearly what He wants us to do in the next five years.
  • Please pray that the Lord would bless each of us with insight into the specific areas that He has equipped us to work in.
  • Please pray that God’s hand would be upon all those leading and facilitating the weekend’s activities.

Thank you for your faithful prayers for our family and ministry in Rwanda!

Marthe

I don’t usually write blog posts but Murphy asked if I would write about Marthe.  We moved into our house in Kicukiro, Kigali in February last year and soon after moving in a young woman came to ask if we wanted to have our house sprayed for mosquitos.  I said yes and gave the young woman our information.  She told me her name was Marthe and pointed out where she lived, just up the street from our house.  She told me she had a five year old daughter and that was the end of our conversation.  Almost as soon as she left our house I felt burdened for her.  I started praying for her every time I passed her house.  On two occasions I tried to visit her but she was never home.  I added her name to my prayer list and started lifting her name before the throne every morning.  

A year ago we moved to Rwanda from Togo, West Africa.  It was the most difficult move I have ever made.  Saying good-bye to my Togolese sisters and brothers felt like ripping my heart into pieces.  My first six months in Rwanda were challenging.  I cried a lot mourning the loss of friends and life and  in Togo.  I was unsure of the reason God called us away from Togo to Rwanda.  I did feel certain of the calling so I dove into language learning and began asking God to show me His purpose for me here.  Right away I felt a resounding sense, deep in my heart, to be patient and to trust God.  God led us here and he would show us his purpose in His perfect time.  

At the beginning of this month,  I was having a heart to heart with God about the up-coming year.   I was telling God, “I have been patient, I have been learning language, now what?” The words Jesus spoke to Peter in John 21 came rushing at me like a freight train.  “Simon son of John, do you love me”, …”then feed my sheep”.  I immediately went to those scriptures and read that dialogue.  I felt like Jesus was saying the same thing to me.  Jesus was challenging Peter, he was challenging me.  At that point in his life, Peter was broken and at the end of himself, now Jesus could use him.  Will I be broken and come to the end of myself?  I hope so!  Yes Jesus, I love you!  I will trust you and feed your sheep, please show me how!

Just a few days later Marthe came to our house.  It had been almost a year since I last saw her.  I had been praying for this woman daily for nearly a year without ever knowing why.  She was at our house conducting a survey for our neighborhood.  I asked if I could come and visit her at her home.  She seemed eager and happy for me to come.  This past Thursday I went to Marthe’s house.  It was only my third time to speak to her but I felt like I had known her for so long.  We sat awkwardly for a moment and then she sprang up and announced that she had some photos to show me.  She left and came back with an album and a sack full of snap shots.  For an hour I sat in her small cinder block house, on her gold colored velour sofa sipping warm Fanta and listening as she shared her life with me.  I saw pictures of her as a teenager, pictures with her friends at the lake, pictures of her family.  I saw pictures of her wedding and learned that her husband lives in a town three hours away.  She didn’t tell me the reason.  I saw pictures of her siblings and their weddings.  I saw pictures of her teachers and classmates at a technical school and later pictures of her students at that same school.  I saw pictures of her daughter and listened as she explained that four months ago her husband came with civil authorities and took her daughter away, she hasn’t seen her since.  In the moment she told me that her loneliness felt palpable.  

I left Marthe’s house amazed at the God we serve.  I may never know exactly why he burdened my heart to pray for her but perhaps it was because of the difficult journey that lay ahead of her.  I was overwhelmed by the the love God has for her and for all of us. He knows Marthe intimately and allowed me the opportunity to take just a glimpse into her heart.  I now have a specific prayer to pray for Marthe.  I don’t know my future but I hope Marthe is in it.  I praise God for his patience with me!  I feel encouraged to keep pressing forward with my language learning and keep trusting God and feeding his sheep.  That may take many forms and shapes and I pray that everyday my eyes and my heart will be open so that I don’t miss the opportunities He lays in my path.

Family Update

Hey everyone, here’s a quick update on our family…

So much has happened it’s hard to even think about everything to tell you so I’ll just begin by saying random things and hopefully it will give you an idea of what’s going on here.

We had a huge Church Planting Movements conference this past August. Participants from 18 nations came and were deeply impacted. It was my second time through the training and was still just as impacted.

It set off a series of events that has had a big impact on our work and ministry in Rwanda. One of the focuses of the workshop was having a vision for the nation and not just sub-parts of a nation. After much thought, prayer and weeks of discussion the two teams currently in Rwanda have decided to form one strategy team for the entire nation of Rwanda rather than just specific individual areas of Rwanda. We still have our smaller teams for emotional, social and spiritual support but strategy-wise we are working together to formulate a strategy for reaching all of Rwanda.

We’ve had two strategy meetings all together as one big group to begin developing our vision and mission statements. They’ve gone really well and we are making exciting progress. They asked me to lead the discussion of the meetings which is fun but also challenging. It’s really important that we all agree to go in the direction that God wants us to go in! Lord please anoint us! Something to pray about!

The kids have been in school now for three weeks and are loving it! We thank God everyday for the opportunity that He opened up for us to go to ISK!

About five weeks ago Marley (our Golden Lab) had three precious puppies. Everyday they’re getting bigger and bigger and are, OH SO CUTE!

Language learning is still a struggle but we are making progress, a little everyday. We are at a point now where we’ve learned enough grammar that conversations are starting to make sense and we can communicate more.

Christine and I are beginning to spend more time with our neighbors. This was a struggle because they go to work at 7am and return at 7pm and we never see them! So, we had a brilliant idea, go to their work place and spend the day with them. So, we’ve done that several times now and it’s been awesome! They operate an office supply shop downtown. So we went and sat in their shop and talked in Kinyarwanda for hours with them. They asked us questions and we asked them questions. (We went separately by the way). It’s been encouraging. They’re educated business people and committed Christians. This week Christine and the lady talked about visiting all of our other neighbors. So, relationships are getting deeper as our language abilities development and that encouraging. Boy is it hard! We are praying for Christ’s perseverance in all things.

Still no news on our adoption paperwork. We’re waiting for our fingerprint cards to get to the FBI center in Nebraska and be cleared….waiting….waiting….

Marty and I are planning to take a trip to visit Christians in Togo the last week of November. Pray that this trip will be a great blessing and encouragement to our brothers and sisters there!

Ok, was that enough rambling to give you an idea of what’s going on here?

We love you and appreciate all of your prayers!

Murphy (and family)

Latay made it!

I was sitting in the workshop and got a call from an unknown #. Latay was calling me from the Kigali Airport! “I’m here! Come pick me up!”

We asked for a miracle and got one. After hearing his story it’s even more evident that the Lord was providing a way for him to be here on Monday! Thank you so much for the prayers!!!