Rooted in Jesus was first introduced to the Diocese of Kigali at the invitation of Bishop Louis Muvunyi in 2013, and in October a team led by Ven Kevin Roberts returned to lead a second followup conference. The team included members from the UK and from Burundi, and offered two conferences, one for Mothers Union leaders and one for Youth Leaders.
A Conference for the Mothers’ Union
“We began with a four day introductory conference for 48 members of the Mother’s Union,
invited from the 40+ parishes in the Diocese by the Diocesan MU Coordinator, Peace Mukamisha. The delegates included some younger ‘pre-MU’ members as part of a strategic decision by the diocese to link the MU to the expanding and exciting work that God is doing among the youth in the diocese. The intention is that each delegate will start a MU Rooted in Jesus group, so that there is one in each parish from which others can multiply. The week was wonderful in every way, with delegates engaging seriously with the programme, enjoying each other’s company and worshipping with a passion and freedom that it was a delight to witness and be a part of. During the course of the week we heard testimonies of physical healing, of the healing of memories and relationships (some connected to the 1994 genocide), of deep forgiveness and of a new found joy. We received a number of pictures, scriptures and prophecies, before and during the conference, with a ‘living water’ theme, some speaking of a waterfall of general blessing and others of wells and pipes from which the water was given to individuals. God was as good as his word! The certificates and RinJ books were presented by +Louis and his wife Winnie (the Diocesan MU President) in a wonderful final ceremony.
A Conference for the Youth
The second conference was for 54 youth cell leaders from each parish, all leaders within the archdeaconry teams set up recently by the Youth Department under the guidance of Eric Habyarimana. Eight of the delegates were existing group leaders. They reported to us that 16 leaders of new groups had emerged from their initial groups, which is good news indeed. The week was memorable for lots of reasons, not least the sheer passion and commitment of these young disciples. The worship was about as vigorous and energetic as I have seen ever, anywhere, which is saying a lot! There was a freshness a
nd openness to the Spirit which we had seen in previous years amongst the young people and which was evident again this year. It really does appear as if God is doing a particular work amongst the youth and that the young people are truly “the power of the church” in Rwanda, and its future.
We were wonderfully supported throughout by +Louis a
nd Winnie Muvunyi, who could not have been kinder or more welcoming of the team. I must also record our thanks to Peace, Eric and Celestin who served us well during the conferences, along with the team of translators and caterers and diocesan staff who made us feel thoroughly at home. It feels as though God is building our partnership, and I hope that we can continue to build on this in future years as Rooted in Jesus becomes a main discipleship resource within the Diocese of Kigali.”
God was clearly at work among both the conference participants and the team members themselves:
Conference participants said:
- “I thank God for what happened in my heart. I used to have great sadness, but now the old wounds have been healed. I used not to pray, but now the darkness has gone away and there is only light! I feel happy! Glory to God!” Lecardie
- “Before I came, I felt far from God, like my prayers weren’t reaching God. Now I feel my prayer is reaching God and I have joy. I felt like the flat balloon. Now I feel filled up. God has given me joy in the Holy Spirit.” Nathaniel
- “I am happy because of what He has done. I had a great sadness, but God gave me joy. I can now forgive the one who hurt me. Glory to God.” Marie Rose
Team member Revd Kristy Pattimore writes:
“The visit to Rwanda was amazing. I knew it would be an adventure – I’ve never been to Africa before, but I actually was surprised by how ‘at home’ I felt there. I loved the people and the whole experience of being able to serve them as part of a gifted, loving team. I loved the worship, which was vibrant and full of joy. It was also a privilege to help the delegates to delve more into the Bible, to learn knew skills in leadership and, above all to encounter God afresh through ministry times. I feel that I grew personally, discovering new gifts and healing in my own life. I found the programme really inspiring. As a pioneer minister, my main focus is on making disciples, who can then make disciples, so Rooted in Jesus was very relevant to me.”
Team member Revd David Wood writes:
“I feel as though I have been lifted out of something of a rut in my ministry. A greater confidence in the work of the Holy Spirit in directing my thinking and speaking; I hope a greater willingness to take some risks under her direction. We shall see.
There was the inevitable queue for food and some had stayed behind in the main hall next door. This small group (equally inevitably!) were engaged in worship when, led by Alice, they launched into something very different. I have no idea what the words were but the language was unmistakable. It struck me as being a song of longing for Jesus and it caught something in me: they’d hardly got two notes out before tears were running down my face (as they are now as I type this). We had only said the evening before that there didn’t seem to have been a ‘Holy Spirit moment’ at that point, and there it was in an unguarded and unexpected moment. It lasted maybe two or three minutes. I didn’t have any lunch that day; it just didn’t seem necessary. I didn’t mention it to anyone else at the time; it was so intensely personal that I couldn’t.”
It is such a privilege and a joy to be part of an international Communion, to share with brothers and sisters in Christ who face different challenges and have different insights, and to find that Jesus is in our midst. We continue to pray for one another as together we work out what it means to live as his disciples and to build his kingdom in the particular contexts in which he has placed us.
Team member Elisha Nkezabahizi writes:
“Jesus worked with us especially in both conferences. I learned much from you and from my Lord Jesus. I will never forget the time I spent with you friends. I was touched much on how difficult it was to say goodbye. My tears took place there. It was not easy to let one go and others stay. But God is good, I hope to hear to what Jesus is doing for you and for your life and the Church as well.”
Kevin’s full report is available here.
To find out more about Rooted in Jesus in Rwanda visit the Rooted in Jesus website here.