Today's post is a long one but I encourage you to skim read it and to watch the video. It truly is an inspiration.
My best friend Kim went to Rwanda in August on a mission with E3 Ministries. This is a part (yes, only a part--God is so good that Kim filled page after page of testimony and STILL didn't share everything she saw!) of Kim's experience.
I am posting this today, Monday March 29th, 2010 because Kim is heading back to Wyoming from Rwanda--her second mission there in a year. This time she went to disciple children's ministry leaders!
Please read this and be encouraged.
But first, check out this awesome video of Kim in Rwanda!
(The video is 5 minutes long. Kim is interviewed around minute 2 and the woman at the end saying "Go, go, go" is one of my spiritual mentors, Diana).
Unfortunately I am having technical difficulties posting the rest right now ....
Emanah Sheemway! Praise God!
I want to testify of the amazing works of our Lord while we were in Rwanda!
On our very first day of ministry, we were guests at our first church service. Tony, our leader from E3, gave a short message and explained the gospel. Then, he asked me to share a short testimony. (I knew that I was supposed to be prepared to share). The night before, I prayed and read the Bible. I felt God wanted me to share about how He rescued me from depression by showing me His grace as described in Romans 8. I wrestled with God about this and did not really think I should share this on our first day.
However, I knew that was what God wanted me to do. I only had a few minutes, so I shared how I got really depressed when I went to college and how I felt I had no hope. During that time, I believed that I had to earn God’s love. I knew that I had fallen into sin and I didn’t believe I could be forgiven. Even though I was a Christian at that time, I believed the lie that I could not be forgiven. I explained how I took a Bible class, Romans and Galatians, because someone told me that was what I needed to do. I went to class. As the teacher read from Romans 8:1, I felt God was speaking directly to me. I sat in that desk with students around me and cried. I did not care because I heard those words and believed. I believed that, “There is therefore now no more condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus.” I explained how the teacher repeated those words over and over. I told them how God rescued me from depression by speaking to me through His word. I shared more from Romans 8 and explained how nothing could separate us from His love.
After I shared this with the people in Rwanda at church that day, I sat down. I felt strange because I could not read the expressions on their faces and I did not know if they understood. I had just shared my heart, but I did not know why. Then, after about 2 minutes, an elderly woman stood up in the front row. She walked toward me and Noah. All of us were supposed to be singing. She sat down next to us and started talking to Noah. She wanted us to pray with her to become a Christian. So, I laid my hands on her and we prayed with her. I noticed that she did not reach out to me to accept my hand. After we prayed, Noah started talking to her. He looked up with tears in his eyes and he said, “Kim, she came up here because of what you said. She wants to know if she can be forgiven.” I immediately answered, “yes.” Noah said, “Kim, there is more. Come closer. He whispered as he continued, “She has struggled with guilt over her sin for many years. Several years ago, her husband died. Then, her in-laws came to her house and tried to take the house and all the land. She paid a witch doctor to kill her in-laws. She wants to know if she can be forgiven.”
I was stunned. She was looking directly at me. I was faced with my own theology. I got down on my knee, looked her directly in the eye and said, “Yes, you can be forgiven. Yes.” With tears in her eyes, she hugged me. She was set free that day. Praise God!
E3 Partners Ministry has a goal to evangelize, equip, and establish churches. We had a very small team from North America. We had 8 people come from the United States. This included E3 staff. After much prayer, the leadership still decided to go forward with God’s calling to establish 8 churches in Rwanda. God accomplished this and so much more while we were there! 2, 712 people came to know the Lord!
Each day, two from our North American team and their ministry partners went to a mission point. In the morning, these small groups would go with believers from Rwanda to evangelize-house to house- in the community surrounding the location for the new church. This was an amazing experience. Every morning, I would walk the dirt streets with my backpack and my straw hat. My ministry partner would then insist on carrying my backpack. We would pray for the people to be open to the Holy Spirit. We would pray for the words to communicate to their hearts. We would pray for God to speak through us. Then, we would go. We would walk. We would walk through dirt and dried grass into small homes with one bench and no light but the sunlight that peeked through the open doorway.
After Noah explained why we were there, the people would immediately greet us, honor us with the one bench and eagerly get ready to listen. As I spoke, Noah translated in their beautiful language and their faces changed from sad or solemn expressions to a curious one. I would pray and speak. Noah would speak. Then, God would speak through us. Over and over again we would witness that moment when hearts were opened by the Holy Spirit to the hope found in Christ. Great celebration would follow!
Though Kim was sent to share the Good News about Jesus, she admitted to me that at times, she humbly felt that she was getting more than she was giving. Here is some of what she learned.
I learned to step out and obey
I did not choose to go on this trip. He chose me. I felt a very clear call to go. It would have been disobedience for me to stay in the U.S. It would have been comfortable, easier. I would have missed the blessing of serving the Lord, being used by God and seeing Him work in the lives of people. In addition, I would have missed a deeper relationship with God and a deeper faith for the cheap substitute of the familiar.
Maybe you say, “I do not feel called to go.” That may be so, but God has called each of us to go and share the hope we have with others.
What is stopping you?
Your list of things to do?
If you know Jesus, you have a hope: an eternal, life-giving hope because you have forgiveness and a relationship with your Heavenly Father. I was shown in Africa that all I had to offer them was this message- no food, clean water, health, or money. I realized that the one thing I had to offer was the only thing they absolutely had to have- the only hope they had to survive emotionally, to endure, to get better, and to live life.
They needed forgiveness, peace, and a relationship with God.
We witnessed over and over again the joy-the sheer joy and happiness of life with God, forgiveness in Jesus, and the hope found in a relationship with Him. Once they heard, they knew this is what they were looking for and they wanted to tell everyone else that they needed this more than food, more than water, more than health or wealth.
The song that says, “my hope is in you...” has new meaning to me now. Why don’t we see that is what people need? Is it because they look OK? Is a life filled with hopelessness but a home filled with stuff OK? Who needs Jesus? Just the poor? Who needs a relationship with the Lord? Everyone!
Be joyful and celebrate!
Celebrate God! With open arms and fast feet, people in Rwanda praised the Lord. Children with tattered clothes and no shoes danced with a joyful heart and infectious smiles. “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness, come into His presence with singing.” (Psalm 100:1-2)
We serve a mighty king who has provided for us, loved us, given us life. Let’s praise Him. Let’s love Him with all our hearts, soul, and mind. Jesus suffered, bled and died for all of our sins. He paid the price so we are righteous in His sight. We now have a relationship with Him. We do not have to be separated from Him anymore. We have access to Him every minute. He LOVES us. Not a romantic, cheap love. A love everlasting. A love we cannot fathom. A Father’s love. We can call out to Him, Abba, Father. This is like saying, “Daddy.”
He sent the Holy Spirit until He comes back. He will convict us, give us peace, comfort us, and guide us. He will intercede for us on our behalf when we do not know what to pray.
So, if God is for us who can be against us? Let us worship Him, love Him, and know Him. He is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. Our hope is in Him. Our joy is in Him. Let not your heart be troubled for our King reigns and He has you in His mighty hand!
People in Rwanda were so thankful! They were so thankful for everything- including us. I am truly thankful to God for calling me to go. Praise God for what He did in Rwanda and what He does every day in our lives! hope this encouraged you in your faith. God deepened my faith in ways that I cannot express and He graciously used me and all the members of the team in mighty ways for His glory and His work.
Welcome home, Kim. I'm so grateful for your gracious spirit, your love for God and your love for your brothers and sisters in the world.
I love and admire you. And next time, we go together!