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.
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.”