By Charlie Oglesby
Nothing compares to the beauty of the Lord! This is the thought that rests in my mind following our weekend trip to Musanze. From banana trees to eucalyptus, from potatoes to pigs, the landscape was a display of God’s creativity. The most impressive natural feature had to be the volcanoes looming over the region along the Congo border. God’s beauty was also on display among the people. Whether celebrating a good crop or crying out to God for help, the people we encountered recognized that all good things come from Him and that we are totally dependent upon Him.
We visited six co-operatives in the Musanze district. The co-ops promote working together to improve living standards through a variety of income generating activities such as cultivating and selling produce, making mondazi (doughnuts), creating beautiful baskets and jewelry, raising pigs, and operating micro banks. There are 50 co-ops consisting of 30 people per group, which means that 1,500 people are directly benefiting from their activities not to mention countless family members and the ripple effect felt throughout the village economy.
The most impactful moment among the co-ops was hearing Victor and Janet, his wife who he affectionately calls “Gift”, share their story with a group focused on the elderly and disabled. Victor has no use of his legs due to having polio when he was a baby, but he doesn’t let that hold him back from anything. He spoke on how God is so much greater than your physical disability and then shared his part of the story on how he met his wife. Then Gift shared her side of the story and it was incredibly powerful. God spoke to her about marrying Victor which she struggled with greatly because life would be very hard. After a short time God revealed to her that many of us, herself included, suffer from a spiritual disability in our lack of faith and trust in God. He is so great and He is so good and He was giving Victor to be her husband. During the time of getting to know Victor she became so impressed by the man of God that he was and she grew in affection for him as well as vision for their life and ministry together. Now they have a powerful ministry together and three young children. Their story is incredible for able bodied people, but it’s even more impactful for those who have a disability and this group was deeply touched and inspired.
Following our co-op visits the team jammed into a vehicle and bounced our way down the rocky paths to Muko Sector. It was dusk and the evangelists from Campus Crusade were setting up lots of equipment to show The Jesus Film. We jumped right in with the guitar and led a worship song in English which was very well received by the 1,000 or so people sitting around the outdoor courtyard. This was followed by an energetic pair of singers who got the crowd moving and shaking with sons of praise. Then it was show time! Having the Jesus Film in the local language, Kinyarwanda, is an incredible ministry tool. The evangelists from Cru do a great job of complementing the story unfolding on the screen with probing questions for the crowd and explanation of what is happening in the film, which is strait from the gospel of Luke. At the end of the film the evangelists gave a call to respond to the gospel and a large number of people came forward, kneeled and prayed with a number of local pastors present. Though it was dark the pastors estimated there were about 100 mature people and 100 children who came forward. It was an amazing day and night, but we were still just getting started in Musanze.
At Sunday morning church we had more opportunities to minister. Charlie preached a message on overcoming fear with faith in the main service and the team of Tim, Lydia, Becca, Ivan, and Elijah taught the children using the story of Daniel. The congregation welcomed us warmly and put on an amazing display of dancing for the Lord at the beginning, middle, and end of the service. God’s beauty was on display in this congregation as they expressed their joy and thanksgiving to the Lord for who He is even though they struggle with poverty.
We didn’t know exactly what to expect when we returned to Muko Sector for the Sunday afternoon crusade. Wow! There were probably 1,000 people waiting in the courtyard of a school before another 500 or 1,000 showed up after the music started bumping. Our team was invited to sit under a large tent with a couple gospel choirs and other “VIPs” including the Mayor of Muko Sector. As with all joyous gatherings in Rwanda there was a lot of dancing going on. When it was our turn, Tim, Lydia, Becca, and Charlie shared an English worship song and then sang a song that we had learned in Kinyarwanda. The people were very touched by us Muzungus (white people) singing in their language. There were several testimonies given by different people including Tim. He did an amazing job sharing his background and how God has recently brought a deeper revelation of His love. Tim was composed, sincere, and clear in his communication and we were all so proud of him. The climax of the crusade was the energetic, joy filled preaching of Pastor Gaspar and seeing around 200 people come forward at the gospel call.
Finally, God’s beauty has clearly been on display in our team throughout this trip. They’ve poured their hearts out to kids at Rusororo, shown courage in speaking to large crowds, and ministered to the Lord and one another during late night prayer times. They’ve shown the character of Jesus coming as servants to a foreign land so that all people may see the beauty and glory of God.