My team is returning to Rwanda again this April with Come & See Africa. I will be helping with the East Africa Apologetics Conference for university students, the conference for pastor’s wives, and working with the Compassion Ministry.
Last year, we used the funds I raised to support the local community in Butare, Rwanda. After consulting with Pastor Franc, one of the local pastors on our team, the funds were used to purchase a cow (about $100) for one of the widows in the widow’s co-op. She took in the abandon daughter of a prostitute and is raising her as her own, using the income generated form the cow to provide for the family. Remaining funds were used to purchase health insurance for over a dozen families for a year. Annual health insurance for a family in Rwanda is approximately $25 US dollars per year.
Now, I am raising funds for the Compassion Ministry Widow’s Co-op, which includes about 35 women and over 200 of their children. They are “widows”, in a Rwandan context, a single mother; with the father of the children either dead or not present. They support themselves and their children by earning about a dollar a day as “diggers”. They work about 6 hours a day; hoeing, planting, and harvesting small pots on the public lands set apart for them. I will assist them with their crops.
For the last three years, I have been involved with the local YoungLives group in our area, which is a ministry of Young Life, reaching out to teen moms to share the love of Christ with them. I will be connecting with the Young Life leaders of Rwanda praying with them, delivering letters from our moms, and learning how God is working in their ministry.
Fundraising: $2,500 Total -> $1,000 Airfare -> $1,000 Accommodations -> $500 CASR local ministries
Prayer Request: Please keep me in prayer as I follow God’s lead in my life, pray also for His guidance and that He would give me wisdom, and for everyone I will be working with and those we will be serving.
May God Bless You,
& See Africa
is a Christian, American, non-profit ministry aimed at the students at the National University of Rwanda, to raise up a generation committed to following the Lord. They help their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR), in facilitating international Christians and their churches to carry out meaningful ministry throughout South Rwanda. It also sponsors an annual three-day East Africa Christian Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports campus ministry. They are also working on bringing Christ to the entire region of south Rwanda through conferences, evangelism, and compassion ministry to the poor. Their main mission is to support Come and See Rwanda (CASR). CASR works year-round ministering to the students at the National University of Rwanda by providing an intensive discipleship program and by supporting the many Christian student groups with their Compassion Ministry.
Rwanda the beautiful land and people of a thousand hills.
In October 2017, I went on my first mission trip overseas, I went to Rwanda. When I was twelve I felt God calling me to go out into the world to share His Gospel. I had been praying for years to go on a mission trip overseas and He finally sent me. The main focus of the trip was a series of conferences. We also spent time with widows and children, hearing their stories and sharing God’s love with them.
Come and See Africa (CASA) hosted a conference for pastor’s and one for their wives at the same time. I helped a woman pastor from London with the conference for the pastor’s wives. We looked at influential women from the Bible and history who are not well known. We also read scripture, discussed what we read and prayed for them. We shared some Sunday School ideas. A parachute was donated to CASA for churches to borrow for Sunday Schools and events. We demonstrated for them how to use it and taught them some games they could play and songs to sing. They sang their own songs and built their own games off of what we shared. We also painting with watercolors, which we also did with the female University students.
Our team gave both groups Salvation bracelets and demonstrated how to use them as conversation starters or reminders for ourselves while we shared the Gospel. The bracelets have different bands of colors on them: yellow, black, red, blue and then green. The yellow represented light and good-what God intended. The black represents sin and our separation from God. The red represents the death and sacrifice of Christ to restore our relationship with the Father, which leads us to the white meaning we are cleansed of all our sins. The green is our hope in Christ and the blue is our future of Eternity with Him.
The pastor from London and I did a skit together (with a translator). In the skit we recognized each other from a mutual friend but didn’t really know each other. I played a nominal Muslim and she was a Christian. She sees me at a coffee shop and asks if she can join me. We chat about our families and then I admire her colorful bracelet. She tells me that there is a meaning and story behind it and asks if she can share it with me. She goes over each of the colors and asks me questions. During our discussion, I ask her questions about each one from a Muslim’s point of view. After the skit, we passed out bracelets and the women practiced with a partner.
The Apologetics Conference was for university students from the five East African countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Congo. The conference was focused on the seven “I Am” statements of Christ, what they mean, the historical content, and how different worldviews approach them. A man, from the African Center for Apologetic Research, came from Uganda for a few days to share about cults in Africa. He gave resources to aid in understanding them more and how they aren’t in alignment with Scripture. I talked with him a lot about some cults in groups in America, near where I live, that are working in Africa too. I sat in on the conference with the students and learned much from the lectures.
One evening, one of the girls who worked at the hotel took me on a walk to town and we got some ice cream. We asked each other many questions about our countries and cultures and each others lives. She didn’t speak much English, but I think she understood more than she could say. She asked me questions about English and I helped her a bit and she helped me with my French, which is very little. I asked her if she could teach me some of their language, Kinyarwanda. She was so shocked and told me that no other foreigner had ever asked her to teach them her native language, it’s always them wanting to teach her English. I love learning new cultures and languages and love to learn what I can.
She told me she was very impressed with how I pronounced the words and that I could remember them. I was a little shocked too. She taught me how to say, “Hello, how are you?” and “I’m fine.” I didn’t learn that much, but it was enough to make people smile. Later, I used what I learned to try to talk with one of the housekeepers at the hotel. She was very surprised and happy. She helped me practice and tried to teach me more.
There were so many monkeys around. I had never seen a monkey in my life before outside of movies and on television. The few times I have visited a zoo they were always hiding. I was told to not feed them or get too close because they were aggressive and could attack me. I was very cautious of them, but they continually fascinated me. Sometimes, when I had time I would sit outside just to watch them. One night at dinner a few got inside the hotel and we had to chase them out, it was very exciting.
I loved Rwanda and all the wonderful people I met there from different cultures and backgrounds and I was honored to heard their stories. I tried new foods that I found I really enjoy, like goat and mushrooms. Even though mushrooms are common in the USA, my mom dislikes mushrooms, so she doesn’t cook with them. One evening we had mushroom soup for dinner. The mushrooms were from the mushroom plantation down the road, that we were going to visit the next day. Before I left home, I had made a deal with myself that I would try every food that was offered to me and be open to new experiences. I love trying new things and adventures, so I tried the soup and purposely went out of my way to eat the mushrooms, instead of avoiding them My friends at home tease me now and say it took me traveling across the world to try a mushroom. The goat was also very good and not at all what I expected. I loved the coffee and tea! The coffee in Rwanda was amazing, the best in the world I was told by many people, who informed me that Starbucks sources their coffee from Rwanda. I was surprised though, to find myself drinking more African tea than coffee. I had not really had any tea that has tasted like that before, it had a bit of a spice but was not spicy.
I joined a group from my Uncle’s church to see their work with the local children. We visited a little school where the kids sang for us a song in their language. The kids then learned to sing the song “Jesus Loves Me” and then they did it in sign language. The group had purchased a cow for a woman and her children a few days before, so they went to visit her again and see where she was going to keep it. I went with them and she showed us around the outside of her house and the pen that was built for the cow. There were a bunch of children that kept coming out of her house and from all around it to see us. They all had the brightest smiles on their faces and were full of excitement and joy. We went out front of her house and passed out toys and candy and spent a little time with the kids.
A few days later, I went with the group to see a house they were helping a widow build, because her house was falling apart. We were told that she walks fives miles to church and that her one room house gets so full it becomes a church. The woman seemed to be very gentle and kind, a mother like figure to those around her. We were swarmed by children a few of them spoke a little English, but it was only a few English catch phrases like, “what’s up” or they asked us for money.
I was able to see how they were building the house and observe the process. They were making the bricks onsite. They kept her old house and built the new one in front it.
I raised money from my community in the USA to support the Rwandan community. In Rwanda, I was able to see all the different areas of ministry and decided where to put the money. I talked with one of the local pastors there who has worked with my Uncles for a long time and asked him what he thought I should put the money towards. He suggested buying a cow for a one of the widows, she took in the abandoned daughter of a prostitute and is raising her as her own. I really responded to the idea of supporting someone who is showing Christ’s love to an neglected child. He also said that there would be enough left over, after buying the cow, to purchase health insurance for over a dozen families for a year.
Later, I was discussing his suggestions for the funds with my uncles in the “Missionary Room”. That was a cozy, light filled area where we had our morning devotions and prayed, ate some of our meals and put together a few packets for the kids. All of a sudden, the pastor came in and declared, “I bought a cow and it’s name is Shae!” We all just stared at him. He explained that after we talked about what to do with the donations, he went and got a cow. It was right outside the door-making noise! We were all smiling and laughing.
During one of our last days there, CASA’s Bible Institute held a graduation and the local news paper was there, along with the Assistant Mayor of the district and the Police Commissioner. They came to to see all ways that CASA is helping the local community. We began a tour with the graduation and then we visited the group of women gathered from the widow’s co-op. Before the graduation started, I went with a pastor from London to go spend some time with the widows. That was a highlight of the trip. Even though we had a translator, we communicated mainly through singing songs and praying for each other in our own languages. I could feel God’s presence, love and joy fill the room. We didn’t have much in common on the surface, but we all shared our love for Jesus. I loved the time I had with these women. They were so warm and welcoming, kind and joyful. God showed me His global church, my brothers and sisters in Africa and gave me a glimpse of the bigger picture, the body of Christ all together singing songs and praises to our God and Savior.
My time with the widows reminded me that church is more than once a week on Sunday morning. Church is so much more than that, it is more than a building. It is every believer in Jesus Christ all around the world. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, there are no church walls separating us. We are all one together in Christ Jesus. God opened my eyes to that a few years ago, in Rwanda I was able to see it so clearly.
My trip to Rwanda pushed me beyond my areas of comfort and encouraged me to grow stronger in my weaknesses, like public speaking and being outgoing. I learned so much about myself and and what church and life is like in Rwanda. Since I’ve been home I have pushed myself to speak in public and to connect more deeply with people in my local mission field. I am so excited to see where God leads me! I want to go back to Africa and stay longer, see more places, and meet more people! I loved it! I am invited to go back in January. I am praying about the opportunity to go back. Please pray with me for God’s guidance.
“It is easier to cool down a fanatic than it is to warm up a corpse.”
Persecution may seem like a thing of the past or something that happens across the world to people and in places far away. The physical difference between us, is not that far. We are one body in Christ, one church. When one part of the body suffers we all suffer. Persecution is very real, dangerous, and growing. It’s happening to our brothers and sister in Christ.
I’ve had conversations with people, many of them were from my Christian community, about the persecution Christians are facing around the world, they would rather not think about it or pay to much attention. They were very indifferent.
Some of them said that only certain people are called to help the persecuted. I don’t think it’s like that. I think that we are not all called to the same thing, but I don’t think we are supposed to act indifferent to the people, “we don’t feel called to”. God called us to love all people, from the outcasts, widows and orphans, tax collectors, to even our enemies. We are not called to love only one group, but to love everyone.
Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12
I think that comes from fear and not wanting to get to close because somehow it could affect your life in a negative way, that it opens the door for you to be persecuted or that it’s too heartbreaking to hear about. Some of the accounts of persecution are heart wrenching and really painful to read and to be honest it’s hard for me to read sometimes and to just not think about it. It’s too hard to comprehend the evil in this world, but I just cling to the hope and promise Jesus us gives us of eternal life with our Heavenly Father.
When I first became aware of the persecution of other Christians it shook me. It made me ask myself some hard questions: Would I be willing to lose everything, my family, friends, job, house, my freedom, or even my life for my faith? Would I risk being beaten and tortured, threatened or pressured to denounce my faith in Jesus? What would living in fear of persecution due to my faith? Would I follow God’s will no matter where it could lead me? Would persecution strengthen my faith or would it break it? What does the Bible says about persecution?
When I began praying for Christians in other countries and, people groups, ministries and organizations, and specific people, working to help the persecuted and unreached people groups, the churches and Christians in other parts of the world didn’t feel like far away strangers in far away places. They felt real and close.
Through all my research on religious freedoms in other countries and praying for those who are persecuted, I started to see the world differently. God used what I was reading and learning to open my eyes to the global church. He showed me the church was bigger than a Sunday morning. It is His body of believers.
We are all part of the same body under Christ.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-17
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. who is the head.
– 1 Corinthians 24-27
If one member of the body suffers we all suffer.
Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. – Hebrews 13:3
I was amazed to find that despite persecution the church is growing. No matter how much Satan attempts through persecution to stop the Gospel from spreading, it’s spreading like wildfire. “For the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” – John 1:5
In some of the most darkest places of the world the Gospels is shining hope.
At the beginning of this year, Open Door’s World Watch List released the top 50 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian in 2018.
Here are the top 10:
Here is where you can learn more about the World Watch List:
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
– Hebrews 13:3
Take a Stand!
Be their voice! Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend and judge fairly. as Proverbs 31:7-8 says. – “Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are in destitute. Speak and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Pray for them! The number one thing persecuted Christians ask for is prayer. Pray for them, pray they would remain faithful to Christ through all their sufferings and trials. Pray their faith would be strengthen and that they would be bold witnesses to those around them and that they would forgive their persecutors. Pray for their persecutors as well, and their country’s leaders.
Be informed and Get Involved! Know what is happening around the world and ways you can get involved. Here are some resources:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world, it would love you as it’s own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of this world. That is why the world hates you.”
“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”
– Hebrews 13:14
There are so many uncontrollable tragedies and chaos around us. It’s unavoidable. Cancer and disease, violence, and crime permeate our lives. It is easy to look into the world and feel hopeless. There is so much evil and pain in our world from terror attacks to children going hungry.
This world can’t promise us anything. It can’t give us peace. This world and everything in it is temporary. There is so much in life that we can’t control, like sickness and death. We don’t know how many days we will have in our lives or when we will die.
Over the last few months several people in my life have passed away. My Great-Grandpa was a wonderful man and I miss him so much. He was older and sick and there was comfort in knowing that he would be with the Lord. Next was a man I knew who was in the prime of his life when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My friend who was 19 years old was killed in a car accident. We would talk about working in Africa in missions together someday. Then my Great-Great Uncle died after a difficult battle with a cancer related to his service in Vietnam. It was a hard reminder that this life on earth is temporary and we are not guaranteed a long or pain free life without difficult times or control of our time here . They were all servant hearted people who left strong legacies demonstrating God’s love for others.
I have recently been to many doctors because the left side of my face has gone numb and they aren’t sure why. I consulted with several specialists and there were many tests and possible causes, it’s still a mystery. I have been having migraines and it could be a side effect from them. The doctors said that with treatment for the migraines my numbness could heal, or it may not.
Losing so many loved ones and walking through all of the possible diagnoses for myself made me come face to face with how quickly my own life could change and I thought about how I want to live my life here and now. I’ve felt so vulnerable, like I could lose everything in a moment.
“LORD, what are human beings that you should care for them, mere mortals that you should think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.”
Through all this I was reminded of Hebrews 13:14, this is not our permanent home. Our lives are like a passing shadow, here one day and gone the next. We are not promised a set amount of time, but our lives here on earth are nothing compared to eternity.
We are not able to look into the future and know everything that is going to happen to us and change the outcome. When we look at ourselves and our own ability in this world it looks hopeless, we are so small and weak.
The need is so great and we are so small.
Yet, in all this we have a hope, a hope that won’t let go of us and gives us comfort in the night, this hope is Jesus Christ. Jesus loves us and He will never leave us.
We have assurance of a day to come when there will be no more evil, pain, heartache, sickness or death. A day when we will see our Savior face to face and spend Eternity in his presence. Until then we have the promise that he will never leave us or forsake us and of peace, a peace that the world can never give us because it passes all understanding.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” – John 14:27
God knows everything about us, He is all knowing. The one who created us knows us more than we know ourselves.
Psalm 139 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
How wonderful it is to know that God, who sees everything we do the good and the bad, and who knows our thoughts before we think them, cares for us. Our lives are spread before him and nothing can come as a surprise to Him, He is never caught off guard by anything, He cannot be shaken.
He loves us! God loves us so much that he became a man, Jesus, and took our sins upon Him as His own and died our death, He took our punishment. Now, because of His sacrifice and Resurrection we have the hope of a world to come and life after death. As followers of Jesus we will never experience true death, it will never touch us. As the Scriptures say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55
God loves you. He loves you so much that he became man and took your sins. He died your death and bore your shame. When you surrender all to Jesus he forgives all your past sins, all your present sins and all your future sins. It’s immediate and you can do nothing to earn it you can’t work yourself clean. All you can do is confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, then you shall be saved. He will make you white as snow and will pull you out of the pit and set you on firm ground.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send Me!”
– Isaiah 6:8
“Rwanda 2017, I’m offering you a trip to Africa.” I knew this was an answer to my heart cry of “Jesus send me!” Let me share with you how God has prepared my heart for sharing Jesus with others and an opportunity He has given me.
I’m Shae. I gave my heart to Jesus and asked Him to use me however He wants to show His love to the world. When I was about twelve I began to really listen to stories of missionaries telling people about Jesus all around the world, and I was inspired by all the ways God was using them to speak His truth.
Last year, while in a waiting room at a doctor’s office, I noticed a woman sitting near me. She had a recently amputated leg and seemed very sad and heavy hearted. I felt like God wanted me to tell her He loved her, but I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it. I am very quiet, I struggle with shyness and overthinking. I am working on being more outgoing and confident talking to people, but it’s hard.
I wrestled with so many thoughts. Was God speaking to me or was it just me? Do I say something or just pray quietly? Was that enough? I began to pray for her and for clarity on what God wanted me to do. As I was praying, she turned to me and started making small talk. We chatted a bit and then sat in silence for a few minutes. I knew God wanted me to speak to her, but I couldn’t find the words. I felt so nervous. What if I said something wrong or made a mistake?
Words from Scripture began pouring through my mind, cutting through all of my thoughts.
1 Peter 3:15 – Always be ready to give an answer for you faith, but do so with gentleness and respect. (My paraphrasing).
Followed by words Matthew 19:10 – Don’t worry about what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but your Father speaking through you. (paraphrasing)
I felt peace. I asked God to not let it be my word she would hear but His. That it wouldn’t be she would see but His love reaching out to her.
More thoughts came to mind. I remember a missions conference I attended and on of the key points stressed. If you can’t walk across a coffee shop and tell someone about Jesus, how can you go across the world and do it? You need to be a missionary wherever you are.
“It is useless to think we can make a difference for Christ in some remote corner of the world if we can’t do it in our own neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.”
– Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors.
Then I remembered a quote I had read that said, “What would happen if we saw everyone around us as facing an eternity in hell? Would we be less afraid to tell them about Jesus?”
I knew then I couldn’t be silent, so I turned to her and said something like, “I feel like God wants me to tell you that he loves you and can give you rest and healing, he can bring you more than physical healing.” Tears welled in her eyes and she told me that she was a Christian, but that she doesn’t go to church most of the time, but she does sometimes. She likes to sing in choir but her church won’t let her if she’s not sober.
Just then my grandma and mom came out from the back and my sisters and I started to gathered our things. The woman started to say goodbye and kept thanking me. I grabbed her hand and told her again that God loved her and that I would be praying for her. She thanked me and said she would pray for me too.
I felt as though God was stretching, pushing me out of my comfort and showing me what happens when I step out in faith and seek his voice and instruction and trust him. I felt so joyful and happy after that, refreshed and so confident in my faith.
The very next day, while I was at a family gathering, my Great-Great Uncle Chris came up to me, my sisters, and mom, and asked my mom which one of her girls wanted to be a missionary. After she told him it was me, he turned to me and said, “Rwanda 2017, I’m offering you a trip to Africa.” I was shocked. I replayed his words in my mind a few times before it clicked in my brain what he was saying. I thanked God for answering my prayers. I was reminded how God hears all of our prayers.
He had no idea how much I have prayed asking God to send me anywhere in the world to share his Gospel.
God answered my prayers!
Come and See Africa (CASA):
My Great-Great Uncle and Aunt started a ministry in Rwanda called Come and See Africa (CASA) in 2005, a few years after the genocide.
The name comes from the story of the Woman at the Well. After her encounter with Jesus, she runs back to her village and says,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could He be the Messiah?”
– John 4:29
Come and See Africa International is a Christian, American, non-profit ministry focused on the students at the National University of Rwanda, to raise up a generation committed to following the Lord. Their main focus is helping their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR), in facilitating international Christian and their churches to carry out meaningful ministry throughout South Rwanda. It also sponsors an annual three-day East Africa Christian Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports the ongoing campus ministry. They are also working on bringing Christ to the entire region of south Rwanda through conferences, evangelism, and compassion ministry to the poor. Their main mission is to support their sister organization Come and See Rwanda (CASR). CASR works year-round ministering to the students at the National University of Rwanda by providing an intensive discipleship program and by supporting the many Christian student groups with their Compassion Ministry.
My Great-Grandma Jeanne has also traveled to Rwanda with her brothers and taught Bible studies there. I feel honored to travel down the path my family
and many others have gone. A few months ago, Franc, the executive director and secretary of CASR visited from Rwanda. I was invited to shadow Franc and my Great-Great Uncle Frank, who I will be traveling to Africa with, as they shared with many different people and churches about pastor trainings and ministry opportunities in Rwanda. I sat in on the board meeting too. It was so fascinating.
I am going to primarily help with the annual East Africa Christian Apologetics Conference centered at the University of Rwanda and supports the ongoing campus ministry. The idea is to raise up strong Christian leaders among the university students
My Great – Great Uncle Frank and Aunt Lelia, with Franc
from the National Universities of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Congo, and Tanzania. The goal of the conference is to better equip the students to stand firm in their faith as they lead ministries in their home countries. They are the future church, business, and political leaders.
I will work with children’s ministry, practicing English with Pastors, compassion ministry in rural villages, also helping with administrative, computer and technological tasks.
THE LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY CENTER
My Uncle and I are collecting new twin and queen bedding sets – fitted sheets and pillow cases, towel sets – bath, hand, wash cloths, and shower curtains. We are hand carrying them to Rwanda with us. These items will go to The Lighthouse Ministry Center, it houses the Joy of God Bible Institute and a conference center where the Apologetics conference will be held.
The Lighthouse Ministry Center also runs as a business with a 20 room hotel, a top floor restaurant, conference centers, and five street front shops. The goal is to become self – supporting and need no additional international donations to fund it’s ministries.
All of the donations will go to support local needs and ministry opportunities. My travel arrangements and accommodations have already been provided.You can make a tax-deductible donation to CASA online with Paypal at Come and See Africa websitewww.comeandseeafrica.org
My Mission Trip is October 3 – 16, 2017.
When I return I will share pictures and reflections.
Please pray for me as I follow God’s lead. Pray that I would have guidance, discernment, and that my eyes would be open to those around me and my heart to what God is teaching me. Pray also for those I will be working with and those I will be serving while I’m there that they would see God moving and respond.
Thank you for you prayers and support!
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
– Philippians 4:6
THE NUMBER ONE THING PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS ASK FOR IS PRAYER.
When we pray we are speaking directly to God, He hears us and He listens. We might not always recognize an answer to prayer, and it might not be the answer we were wanting, but God is outside of time and sees the completed picture. Our whole live are laid before Him, He sees our entire lives, nothing comes as a surprise to Him.
“Through prayer we can reach into the future and with loving hands touch those beyond our reach.” ― Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors.
HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES AND WAYS YOU CAN PRAY FOR THEM:
Sometimes we may feel like God can’t hear us when we pray or that He is not listening or answering our prayers. He does hear us when we pray and He listens to our prayers. He might not always answer our prayers the way we want or in the time we want. We may not even recognize His answer as an answer, but He hears us and He cares for us. He will never leave us or forsake us.
“The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
Every year my family goes to Winter Jam together. It’s a Christian concert with 10 bands for $10. http://2016.jamtour.com/about This year we discovered a new band to us, We Are Messengers. We love their music!
The night before Winter Jam we were looking up the unfamiliar bands and artists, that would be performing, on YouTube. After listening to We Are Messengers’ song I’m On Fire we were excited to see them. They were one of the opening bands and they were just as good as we had hoped for. Their music was uplifting and thought provoking.
A worship song is usually performed during intermission, and we knew from experience that we would probably like it. When We Are Messengers came out, we were ready and my mom videoed the whole song. They sang an acoustic version of their song Magnify. It was so beautiful. After they performed, we were able to meet the lead singer Darren Mulligan, and share with him how much we loved Magnify. He told us that song meant a lot to them.
I posted the video, my mom took, on YouTube. At the end of the video it looks like I’m pouting. I’m not, I’m just really focused because this song really spoke to me.
We have been listening to the We Are Messengers’ album constantly for months. My twin sister gave the CD to her guitar teacher so he could listen to Magnify and teach her how to play it on her guitar. She’s getting really good at playing it.
My family has gone through so much change in the last year with illness, death, unemployment and moving. When we went to Winter Jam, we thought my Dad was starting a new job the next week, he had been out of work six months after losing his job. While we were in line, my Dad called and told my Mom the company he was supposed to start working for had just pulled their offer. It was only a few days before his start date.
We were surrounded by so many people, it was hard to hear each other and the doors were about to open, so we didn’t get to really talk about until after the concert. During the concert I felt so overwhelmed. It felt like the storm we were going through was never going to end.
I was praying during the concert for God to give my family peace and direction. I asked God to speak to me and give me comfort.
This is the part of the song that really stood out to me:
“My sight is incomplete and I made You look small,
I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long,
realign where my hope is set,
until you’re all that’s left …”
When I heard that it felt like God was telling me not to look at all the problems happening in my life, to just focus on him.
When I heard that I was reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus, not my temporary problems.
Our Homeschool Co-op class put together a book and service club focused on persecution, missions and helping refugees. Last month we read Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of the Voice of the Martyr’s. He spent a total of 14 years in a communist prison, with months of solitary confinement in his homeland Romania. He was ransomed by the Norwegian Mission to the Jews and the Hebrew Christian Alliance and eventually came to the United States. He didn’t want to leave the church in Romania at first but they told him to go and be a voice for the voiceless.
Our group read Philippians 1:20.
“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (KJV)
We discussed how that scripture is reflected in Richard Wurmbrand’s life and legacy. As we looked at the passage in different translations, we noticed that in the King James Version the word for “exalted” is “magnify.” Magnifymeans to extol, praise, or glorify.
Christ was magnified in Richard Wurmbrand’s life.
“As communist atheists allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I’d leave not the smallest place for Satan in mine.” – Richard Wurmbrand
In Richard Wurmbrand’s life he was arrested, beaten, and tortured for fourteen years, He still followed God even though it led him to prison, he sought God’s will for him while he was there. In his book he shares how he and fellow Christians would tithe in prison. They used the little food they received and gave it to the weakest.
“One great lesson arose from all the beatings, tortures, and butchery of the Communists: that the spirit is master of the body. We felt the torture, but it often seemed as something distant and far removed from the spirit which was lost in the glory of Christ and His presence with us. When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soup every day, we decided we would faithfully “tithe” even then. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to weaker brethren as our “tithe” to the Master.” – Richard Wurmbrand in Tortured for Christ.
We all have problems and struggles in our lives, it’s easy to focus all of our time and energy on them. When we focus on our problems and struggles, it’s easy to forget that God has a plan and purpose for the pain and the heartache we feel. Our life here on earth is a moment of our eternal life with God. The trials we are going through and the pain we feel here is temporary.
We Are Messengers’ song reminds me that when God is magnified in our lives he is greater than everything, from all our hopes and dreams to all of our heartache, problems, and trials.
A year ago, when I first started writing this blog, there was not much conversation about persecution. After I started this blog the world began to talk about ISIS in a new way. Much of the conversation is about fear and anger, not much about loving your enemies and forgiving them as Jesus has done for us. It’s easy to forget, in our fear, that Muslims are lost souls in need of saving.
Matthew 5:43-48 New Living Translation (NLT)
Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you!45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Now, there is much debate over whether refugees should come into America. Many are afraid all the young men are ISIS members coming to kill us. As Christians we are not called to live our lives in fear. God tells us in his word, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
After my first post “Where His Path Led Me,” I went to Mission ConneXion. I learned about many different ministries and organizations, met inspiring people, and gathered great resources. A few months later, people that I met at Mission ConneXion became keynote speakers at the Worldview Symposium I helped organize for youth and their families. I wrote about that in my post “Wakeful and Uprooted”.
I wanted to connect with others around my age so I put together a class for the weekly homeschool co-op I’m in. The lessons were mostly pulled for my blog and books I’ve read. Some of the kids came because they went to the Worldview Symposium. I added a page to this blog called “Persecution Class” and I posted the lessons there. We are continuing the class next semester and adding a book club/prayer group. It will be a place for us to get to know each other better as we read books like Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand and God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.
God is using this blog to teach me. I’m learning to trust Him more, to give my concerns about whatever I’m planning or holding onto to Him because he already has it planned and knows how it will turn out. I am learning to push myself and the value of being uncomfortable. I realize the stress I feel to write a new post is usually because I am looking to myself for something to say. When I turn to God and I am being led by Him, it feels completely different. A year ago, after reading people’s stories about persecution in several books and watching their testimonies on YouTube, my heart was broken. I could not stop thinking about them. I prayed to God and asked Him to use me and to let me help somehow. God brought to me the idea of a blog. He made it clear to me that’s what he wanted me to do. I was terrified when I wrote my first post, I thought no one would like it and I would be trolled. But, I didn’t want to say no to God so I sat down and struggled through my first post. It has been amazing to feel His hand on me through this journey. I can see Him so clearly through all of the brokenness that surrounds us.
The idea of a class was so scary to me, I went back and forth on whether I should do it or not. Then I thought of my brothers and sisters who are risking everything- their families, homes, security, and even their lives to share the love of God in this broken world. I thought of how scared I was to do the class and have people not like it or not like me, I felt ashamed for not trusting God, so I did the class. I am reminded again that His plans for me are good. I’m glad I trusted God with the class. They are a special group. God brought us together for a purpose and I’m excited to see what He has planned for us. This blog has been viewed in over 70 countries so far. It never even occurred to me that anyone outside of the U.S. or my family and friends would read it much. It continues to amaze me and I am praying for everyone who has read this blog.
The world feels more unstable every day, but remember that God is there, He loves and cares for each and every one of us. That is why He sent His son Jesus to take our sins from us. Jesus experienced complete separation from God, when He died on the cross, so we don’t have to. He died so we could spend eternity with Him in heaven. The Bible tells us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
If you want to know more about Jesus, the book of John or the book of Romans in the Bible are a good place to start. Bible Gateway has many translations and languages available https://www.biblegateway.com/
This is the Scripture that we built the Symposium on.
Jeremiah 1:4-12 New Life Version (NLV)
4 Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I started to put you together in your mother, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart as holy. I chose you to speak to the nations for Me.” 6 Then I said, “O, Lord God! I do not know how to speak. I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy.’ You must go everywhere I send you. And you must say whatever I tell you. 8 Do not be afraid of them. For I am with you to take you out of trouble,” says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put out His hand and touched my mouth, and said to me, “See, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 I have chosen you this day to be over the nations and the kings, to dig up and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
11 And the Word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching to see that My Word is completed.”
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For my homeschool co-op, I put together a class about persecution called “One Church: Modern Persecution.” I chose the name One Church, because we are one body in Christ.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
I pulled most of the class from this blog. My mom is helping me with it, I put it together and my mom teaches the class. I’m not teaching it because I am more comfortable writing than speaking. I have been wanting to do a class on persecution but I am very shy, that is part of the reason why I started a blog. Last semester, I took a speech class because I want to become more comfortable speaking to a group.
I had been thinking about creating a class for a while but I wasn’t sure where to start. After I attended Mission ConneXtion, last year, the class began to come together. I met a lot of great people and organizations, and got many resources I’m using in the class. I met the Voice of the Martyr’s Area Coordinator for my area. She shared with me many resources that I’m using in the class. After talking with her I was really encouraged, and I appreciated the time she spent with me.
The goal of the class is to raise awareness about modern persecution and show other teens ways to get involved and help now.
We began our first class with an activity we found at Open Doors Youth, they are a great resource: http://www.opendoorsyouth.org/do-something/youth-leader-resources/youth-leader-resources/ We set out bowls of bright colored pompom cotton balls (instead of marshmallows), plates, and chop sticks. The goal was to move as many cotton balls onto their plates with the chop sticks, before the time ran out. Then we switched to moving dried rice which was more difficult. Finally, we attempted to build card towers. It was a great icebreaker and an effective way to demonstrate perseverance.
We read from Hebrews 13:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10, and Hebrews 11. We discussed endurance, willpower, persecution, faith, and the difference between the mountain top and the valley. Most importantly, we talked about how God uses ordinary people, who make mistakes and aren’t perfect, to do His will.
From the Open Doors Lesson outline, we watched a movie clip from Lord of the Rings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjm1DRMEyUQ ,Samwise’s speech is strong example of not giving up and it was a unexpected surprise during a serious class.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Pastor who spoke out against Hitler and the persecution of the Jews. His most well known book is “The Cost of Discipleship.” He tried to organize the Protestant church to take a firm stand against the Nazis. When that didn’t happen he helped Martin Niemoller form The Confessing Church, their goal was to oppose the German Christian church movement, supported by Nazis. He wanted the church to live out what it said it believed. I’m reading an excellent biography about him, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.
In 1937, The Confessing Church Seminary was closed by Himmler, a leading member of the Nazi party. After the seminary was closed, Bonhoeffer traveled throughout Eastern Germany over the next two years, leading private seminaries. In June 1939 he became concerned he would be asked to take an oath to Hitler, so he left Germany and went to the United States. He felt guilty for seeking sanctuary there and not having the bravery to live what he preached. Within a year he returned home to Germany.
Bonhoeffer then served as a messenger to the small German resistance. He was involved in efforts to help Jews escape to Switzerland, this led to his arrest in April 1943. Bonhoeffer spent 18 months in Telgel Military prison. He continued to write while he was imprisoned, a guard smuggle out his writings. Bonhoeffer was moved to the Gestapo’s high security prison, after the failed bomb plot in July 20, 1944. Then he was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp, and finally Flossenburg concentration camp. He was then sentenced to death on April 8, 1945, three weeks before the war ended. It is believed to have been under the direct order of Hitler. He was hung along with Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and Hans Oster who were also conspirators. Before his execution, Bonhoeffer asked an inmate to give a message to Bishop George Bell of Chichester, “This is the end – for me the beginning of life.”
The camp doctor who witnessed his execution wrote:
“I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer…kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this loveable man prayed, so devoted and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly seen a man die so entirely submissive to God.”
We discussed these quotes:
“Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Bonhoeffer
“Cheap grace is preaching for forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is Grace without discipleship, Grace without the cross, Grace without Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
What is cheap grace? What is the cost of discipleship? We asked them to think about how political Christians should be and to research what the Bible says about it.
Never Again Is Now
There is a story from WWII of a train carrying Jews to a concentration camp, the train passed a church and the cries of the Jews were disrupting the Christians singing, so those Christians sang louder.
Bonhoeffer spoke up for the Jews who were being persecuted. He took a stand against the evil that was happening and he refused to sing louder, which led to his death. The train is rolling now. Will you sing louder or speak up for those who can’t?
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31: 8-9 (NIV)
At the end of class we passed out bright red folders we made including these handouts:
The next class will be about Brother Andrew and his organization Open Doors, China, and Project Pearl. Through this class I’m hoping to inspire other teens to speak up and act for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
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This was originally posted on June 13, 2015. The post was accidently deleted while using the mobile app. Since I wrote this the crisis in Syria has exploded. It is estimated that there are now around 50 million refugees in the world today, the most since WWII.
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is not to act, not to act is to act.” – Deitrich Bonhoeffer
30,000 people a day are forced to flee their home because of violence or fear of persecution. Refugees spend an average of five years in a refugee camp waiting for a chance to resettle in a new country, less than 1% get that chance.
There is an estimated 11 million Syrians who have been displaced, since the civil war started in 2011. United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) estimates around 3 million have fled to neighboring countries such as: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. 6.5 million refugees remain in Syria. More than four years after the war began, it is estimated to have killed 222,000 people, half were citizens.
On July, 26, 2012 the first official refugee camp for Syrian refugees, called Za’atari, opened in Jordan. In March 2015 there were an estimated 83,000 refugees. Za’atari is slowly becoming a permanent city.
Along the main street, the camp is like a market. There refugees can buy food, clothing, and find basic housing. There have been altercations between the refugees at the camp, a main reason is the lack of food. A second camp was established after the camp reach maximum capacity housing 60,000 refugees. This second refugee camp was built 20 kilometers east from Za’atari in Jordan. On April 5, 2014 there was a riot and a number of people, both refugees and Jordanian police, were injured. One refugee was killed by a gun shot.
When Syrian refugees make it to the camp they still are in danger. Their new enemies are starvation, disease, and the violence that develops between refugees because of the scarcity of food. Some refugee camps serve as headquarters for rebel organizations. They use the camps for recruitment, support, and training to exploit refugees basic needs .
Refugees have to wait an average of five years in a camp before they can get permission to enter a country for asylum.
Where were you five years ago? That is a long time to wait for help. Every year 50,000-70,000 refugees come to the U.S. seeking safety. Refuges who are entering the United States are interviewed by the UNHCR and U.S Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, only those escaping persecution are eligible for entry. When refugees come to the U.S on a travel loan they must repay the cost of their travel expenses. Each refugee is assigned to an agency to provide basic needs during their first 90 days in the U.S. Refugees need to establish self-sufficiency through housing, transit, learning English and job skills. Three months is not very long, they are facing much new pressure and in such an unfamiliar environment.
The Lost Boys of Sudan
The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of 20,000 boys who were displaced during the second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). The name “The Lost Boys of Sudan” was given to them by Aid workers at a refugee camp in Africa. Around 2.5 million people were killed during the war. Most of the boys were orphans, most were separated from their families when government soldiers and rebels attacked their villages. Many of them escaped being killed or taken to be soldiers because they were tending their cattle when their villages were attacked. They kept their cattle near water and were able to hide in the thick brush. The surviving children traveled for years looking for a safe place. They found shelter in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. A few went to villages in South Sudan. On the journey, half of the boys died from starvation, diseases, and attacks from wild animals, soldiers, and rebels.
Most of the woman and young girls, in the villages that were attacked, were raped and sold into slavery. At the refugee camp in Ethiopia, the boys and girls were put into separate areas of the camp. In Sudanese culture girls cannot be alone, so they were placed with surviving family members, or adopted by other families. When the resettlement program to the U.S started, only orphans were, so the girls who were placed with family members, or other families for 9-14 years, were no longer considered orphans, and were not able to be in the resettlement program.
From 1992-1996, 1200 of the Lost Boys were reunited with their families, because of UNHCR however, 17,000 remained in refugee camps in 1996.