As if our shopping list is not long enough, today we went on a fact finding mission. Surprise, surprise, high in the hills of Byumba, why does no one live in the valleys? Thankfully they do at least have a murram road that leads right to the pastor’s door, but that is where the luxury ends.
The parish church is basic although it does have electricity, the parish has two further small local community churches but both are currently closed as they do not meet the government requirements, their congregations have to walk 3-4 hours to reach the parish church.
In this area Christianity is the fourth religion, less popular than even traditional practice. There are just 220 practicing Christians in the parish. There are many challenges here.
- 80% of the population are in category 1 or 2, the poorest in Rwanda
- Only 20% of the congregation own a Bible, although 80% are literate and would benefit from owning one.
- Many children do not attend school. Education may be ‘free’ but the government require them to take lunch at school, for most an unaffordable luxury.
- Most rely on agriculture but the soil is infertile, few can afford livestock.
- Few can afford health insurance for their families
We met with the pastor, members of the mothers, fathers and youth union, together with the diocesan development officer and various other members of the church, all working hard to grow this small Christian community.
It is obvious to us that the first priority is to get the churches open, but there is so much more that could be achieved in this small parish. Some immediate emergency intervention together with an income generation project for self sustainability would make a huge impact and show the church working for the community, a wonderful opportunity for evangelism.
We are all very excited about this potential new project and the possibilities it holds. Please join us in praying for the resources to impact this community.
On the way back we stopped to look around a great church run TVET centre which offers the opportunity to learn skills to those who may not have completed their academic education. We were impressed by their ethos and endeavours to be self sustaining. Unfortunately many of those who would benefit from this training cannot afford the modest £100 for the six month courses.
A quick trip to the shops resulted in a surprise encounter with Saide, the young street boy we wrote about on Saturday, who, with genuine affection suddenly launched himself at Joff for a hug, He had been playing football with his friends, seen us and rushed over. His friends soon followed and everyone soon received a hug from us all. Our water was purchased together with a couple of bags of mandazi (doughnuts) which the boys were happy to share, at least they wont go to sleep hungry tonight.
Our day finished by sharing a meal with the bishop and members of the diocesan staff. A lovely evening of serious discussion and a lot of laughter. Sadly we had to say goodbye as tomorrow evening we head home.