Debby and I have had a wonderful, at times difficult, and ultimately rewarding 20 years serving with Evangelical Friends Mission in Rwanda, Africa. Ever since my childhood I have been stirred by Jesus’ “Great Commission” to his disciples, where he told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). In these last years in Rwanda through hard work and by God’s grace we have been able to launch a disciple-making movement where people pursue Christ, intentionally bringing all areas of their lives under his lordship. It is a holistic discipleship that looks at a person’s relationship with God, with themselves, with other people in their lives, and with creation—everything God has given them to steward. We have been living out making disciples in our specific Rwandan cultural context, doing our best to “teach them to obey everything (Jesus) commanded.”
I have a deep sense of gratitude to God for his faithfulness in our lives, for letting us partner with him in bringing transformation to the lives of many people in Rwanda. We have friends in various communities who understand God’s love for them in a new way, giving them a greater joy and deeper desire to “love their neighbor.” We have seen families set free from a cycle of debt, who are instead finding ways to save money. Some have started small business ventures, bringing more resources to help meet their families’ needs. We have seen farmers grow in a sense of responsibility to steward their fields well, and to apply effective farming practices to grow better crops. We have seen couples learning to love each other better, to spend quality time together, to talk through decisions together. Some couples have chosen to get married before the government and church, giving the women a social standing equal to men. We have seen leaders move from an authoritarian style of leadership to a more empowering servant-leadership model. We have seen communities eagerly search the Word together to learn what God has to teach them in the areas they have chosen to study. We have seen communities work together to build each other’s houses. We have seen people set free from demons, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and eagerly grow in knowing him personally. We have seen communities move from a fatalistic, dependent, poverty mentality to a place of strength and confidence in God empowering them to work through the problems they face and move out of poverty into God’s greater purposes for them. This is what “teaching them to obey all I have commanded you” looks like.
Describing the impact of Jesus’ ministry, it was said, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:9). Our Rwandan friends have gone through a time of death and deep darkness, but Christ has brought them life, and his light is dawning throughout their land.
If you would like to see an overview of this disciple-making movement in Rwanda, Brad and Chelsea Carpenter just put together an excellent video found HERE.
We appreciate your partnership with us in helping to establish a disciple-making movement among our Rwandan Friends churches. God has now led our family back to the States, to Newberg, Oregon, and we are putting down roots, grateful to grow in this community.
We see the gospel of the kingdom growing among our Rwandan friends—in their families, their churches, their communities, and in their hope for the future. If God did this much with all of us together in these last ten years, I can’t wait to see what he will do in the next ten! Matthew 24:14 gives the scope of the work ahead: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” As I look to my future role with EFM as a whole-life discipleship coach, focused on working with missionaries to plant disciple-making movements among unreached people groups, I wonder what new cultures he will lead us to. God will lead us to places where darkness reigns, where people need to be set free, where he wants his light to shine. We invite you to continue to partner with us as God leads us to make disciples in new cultures.