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Praising God in Rwanda

News--Rwanda May 2024

As we grow in our relationship with Christ, we know that God calls us to humble ourselves, to share our bread with the hungry, to free the oppressed and to provide clothing for those living on the margins of society. While living in Rwanda for almost six years, I took this mandate seriously. I lived on the main street of a town called Ruhengeri, which is situated in the north, along a chain of eight volcanoes. Ruhengeri proper is a small town, but it is surrounded by over a million impoverished people, many of whom live in poorly built mud huts.

Because I lived in town, I became friends with many street boys. They would come into the compound where I lived and help me with various tasks. They watered and weeded the flowers and shrubs in the courtyard, washed my car, and hauled away my trash. (There was no such thing as “garbage collection” back then!) I’d give them something to eat, treat their cuts and scrapes, and give them small items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, flips flops, and old clothes. Sometimes, I used my flannel boards and felt pieces to share Bible stories with them. That was always a lot of fun!

News--Rwanda May 2024

Imanashimwe (left) and some other boys enjoy a meal together at Martha’s house in Rwanda.

One boy named Imanashimwe would often lead us in singing a few worship songs. He was quite short, probably as a result of malnutrition, but he had a beautiful smile and was eager to hear the biblical stories I shared. When I returned to live in the USA, I traveled to Rwanda at least once a year and used this as an opportunity to visit my old haunts in Ruhengeri. I usually saw “my boys” and listened intently to hear how they were doing. One year, on one of these visits, I didn’t see Imanashimwe. I wondered how he was doing and asked my friends about him. They told me that he was killed when he was hit in the head with long metal poles dangling off the bed of a truck requiring a wide berth as it turned sharply at a corner. He had died instantly.

My heart broke when I learned about his tragic death. Despite my grief, I thanked God that I was able to share the truths of Scripture with him and all my boys. We never know how Christ’s light shining through our lives might transform hearts and inspire others to embrace God’s Word. We also never know what might happen to those whom we have influenced. I was shocked to hear about Imanashimwe’s early demise, but I trust that he was ready. His name means, “Praise God,” and I believe that he is now singing praises to God in heaven.