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Rwanda: bringing fresh hope to needy families

Peter Wooding explores the work being done among the churches in Kigali, Rwanda, some 20 years since the genocide ...

PETER WOODING explores the work being done among the churches in Kigali, Rwanda, some 20 years since the genocide

During the 100-day Rwandan genocide, that began on 7 April 1994, approximately 800,000 people were slaughtered.

When the killing claimed the lives of three of Bishop Louis Muvunyi’s brothers and many in his extended family, he was on the verge of being consumed by bitterness and anger. At that time he was preparing for ordination in the Anglican Church many miles away at a Bible College in Tanzania, and felt helpless seeing what his country was going through.

But somehow Bishop Louis (right) was able to overcome his intense pain, and begin to see himself and his nation experience resurrection and hope thanks to the message of the cross of Christ.


“The fact that Jesus Christ understands suffering, restored my life and my calling. I repented of that bitterness and anger and God enabled me to forgive and to move forward into the good purposes He has for my life,” explains Louis who became the Bishop of Kigali in December 2010.

Some 20 years later, Bishop Louis is still seeing how the church of Rwanda continues to help his nation overcome the hurt of the genocide:

“The impact on the Church and the people at that time was so huge and difficult. In my Kigali diocese alone we lost about 15 pastors and many were killed with their families.

“Some church buildings became centres of refuge but the killers turned them into killing fields. After the genocide many were afraid to come and attend church services due to what happened there. Thank God, the healing and reconciliation today is bearing much fruit and churches are full again.”

Since 1994 Samaritan’s Purse has been on the ground providing medical care and water and sanitation to the survivors of the genocide and has helped to reunite more than 900 children with family members.

For the past five years, through Raising Families, Samaritan’s Purse has worked alongside churches throughout Kigali, helping many orphans and widows on their journey of healing and reconciliation, and helping them get the basic necessities of life including shelter, education, access to healthcare, and the resources to create their own livelihoods.

Gentille’s story is typical of the many families who have been helped through Raising Families in Rwanda. Right from when she was a baby she faced challenges in her life as she was born with a condition where she couldn’t walk, and all her life has either crawled or been in a wheelchair. She became an orphan when her father was killed during the genocide and her mother had already passed away. She had nothing until the church started visiting and praying with her and teaching her about God.

Now the church has become her family, also helping her with vital supplies such as food and clothing for her and her little boy Samuel (left).

Despite her physical limitations, through Raising Families the church has also helped Gentille start a small business selling mats. Someone collects the reeds and grasses from the swamps, which she uses to make three or four mats a month, which are sold at a local market.

Bishop Louis believes the transformation that families like Gentille’s are seeing in his country, is vital for the future:

“Our partnership with Samaritan’s Purse has really helped churches and the communities in Rwanda to come together again in finding home-grown solutions to challenges such as poverty, loneliness and reconciliation.”

To hear more about how the church became Gentille’s family watch this short film here: www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/gentille

 

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