Coronavirus in Rwanda

By: Rev. Matt Joldersma, pastor of Neely’s Creek ARP Church in Rock Hill, SC

Rwanda, Africa. Rwanda is a field where ARPs from the U.S. have been engaged since 2011. Nine teams with members largely but not exclusively from Neely’s Creek ARP, have gone there to minister alongside RCRI (Reach the Children of Rwanda, International). These teams have taught VBS, met with teen girl groups, trained volunteer leaders, done building projects in and around RCRI’s Nyabihu Christian School, and distributed clothing and shoes while visiting children in their homes. The 2020 team had to cancel plans due to Coronavirus. Seeing the changes that Coronavirus has wrought in the U.S., we were fearful for Rwanda, a third-world country. Rwanda went into lockdown.

Lockdown in Rwanda looks a lot different than a lockdown in the U.S. In Rwanda, a lockdown means many who live in the villages cannot go out to find daily work. Most who live in the villages work in the fields, digging and harvesting crops. With no work, there is no money to buy food for families. In addition, the 2020 rainy season destroyed many gardens, even entire crops. Since the onset of the Coronavirus, whenever COVID numbers would begin to rise, Rwanda would go into another lockdown. Recently a big spike in cases has appeared. After months of managing things incredibly well, it has dealt another great blow. People are suffering from the impacts of even fewer work opportunities. Lives are being lost.

Communication from Benjamin Musuhukye (World Witness International Ministry Associate) informs us that, over the past several months, many sponsored children have lost their sponsors (from the U.S.) due to Covid or a host of other reasons. In Gahanga, an area just outside the capital city of Kigali, people are simply starving. The government has been doing some food distribution, but many people have been missed. RCRI can help but not without the funds to provide the needed food. This was the prompt the Holy Spirit used to put the Neely’s Creek missions committee into action. In God’s economy, we had what they didn’t. So, after confirming details, our church made arrangements to send $1800 in emergency funding to help buy and distribute food immediately.

In Philippians 2:4, we read “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)

Now, it could be that the Holy Spirit prompts you, or even your church, Sunday School, or women’s group to do something to provide tangible help half a world away. If so, I encourage you to read, pray (and research) on.

For questions or more specific information, please contact Kathryn Dushime at sponsorwithrcri@gmail.com . For more information on giving toward the needs for Reach the Children of Rwanda, International, (RCRI) please contact World Witness at www.worldwitness.org or (864) 233-5226.

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