Ntakirutimana and I carried a heavy bag of cement from the pickup into the house, and pastor Ugiriwabo and Claude stacked the bags in the bedroom. They are going to cement their church floor soon, so they timed our trip to take advantage of the transport we could offer. We washed up out back with precious water carried in jerry cans from the river way off in the valley. After washing up we sat in Ntakirutimana and Keziya’s living room waiting to hear what they have been learning through the Discipling for Development (D for D) lessons and what they have been putting into practice in their family. But before we could ask our first question they brought out a delicious, unanticipated meal. We were each given a plate piled pyramid-high (meaning to add another cup of food would be risky) with rice, beans, tender cooking bananas, long fried sweet potatoes and a delicious isombe sauce (pounded manioc or cassava leaves) over all. We felt like royalty and thoroughly enjoyed sharing this meal together. Gaudance (my D for D teammate and our Friends Church superintendent’s wife) complimented Keziya and told her there couldn’t be a better cook even in the capital city of Kigali.
We asked what they had learned and put into practice during the seven months of lessons on marriage. They said they now take time out to talk together, and they make many financial and farming decisions together. I asked Ntakiruta what his wife’s main love languages are, and he answered directly, “words of encouragement, affectionate touch, and serving.” Keziya also knows his love languages. Their love and respect for each other is clearly evident at home or in public. This is not a typical picture of marriage in rural Rwanda! Marriages are often full of tension and strife with little relational involvement. The changes in this marriage are revolutionary in their community.
We asked what they had been learning from the financial lessons. Ntakirutimana said it was his first time to hear what the Bible had to say about finances. He said it was most helpful to understand how being in debt is not a good practice. He and Keziya wrote out a list of their various debts and have started paying them off! He also said the study on tithing convinced them to start tithing. In the past he heard teaching that tithing is an Old Testament practice and not necessary anymore. He was especially convicted by the teachings on honesty and integrity. Since then he has decided to speak the truth. He knew of a neighbor who had been poisoned and died from it and knew who did it. Although it was a hard choice he spoke up and told the truth, which led to the arrest of those responsible. They were later released on bail. They are not happy with him, but hopefully his brave action will make the whole community a safer place to live in. Please pray for Ntakirutimana and Keziya’s continued safety. Pray also that God would give them a baby.
Claude and Emerita
Claude and his wife, Emerita, are having a church wedding this July as a result of the teaching on marriage. They have been living together for years and have children, which is typical in this community. Some men won’t marry their partners because they feel it gives the women too much power. In Rwanda unmarried women have no rights to their husband’s property or even to their own children. So a marriage builds a wife up, lets her know her man is committed to her, and gives her value in the eyes of the community—and legally. Culturally, a husband will most often make decisions regarding his fields and crops and animals by himself, as he sees best. Emerita appreciates the way she and her husband talk together, work together, and now even make decisions together. Claude and his wife say their upcoming marriage is also improving relationships in their extended families. She said, “I have peace because we are together, and because I know where our money is going. My husband values my input.” I can see that her respect for him has grown. As a couple, all their goals are focused on their upcoming wedding. They are expecting about 200 guests. Claude has been working hard with others in the church to get the church floor paved before the wedding (it’s a dirt floor). Claude says this wedding will give a good testimony throughout their community—“In the Friends church we value marriage.” Claude is well respected in the community and a natural leader, so he is very busy. Their prayer request is for a great wedding and for Claude to work into his busy schedule quality time with his wife and kids. This couple is astoundingly different from the other couples around them; to see a marriage like this in the community is a sign that God is working miracles, transforming his people.
Ntakirutimana, Keziya, Claude, and Emerita are all a part of the D for D leadership team in the church of Musovu, selected to work with us. We have been meeting with them for more than three years, and we expect to see changes in the lives of these leaders. We are also beginning to see real life transformation in the lives of other church members who are being taught by these people we meet with regularly. It is exciting to see a whole community experience life transformation one small step at a time.