After 5 days in Rwanda, I am encouraged. One of the main things I continue to be encouraged by is the beauty and scope of the global Church. The Church is alive and well all over the world. Too many times we hear that the Church is losing influence, but from what I've seen here in Rwanda, I am convinced that God is at work through the Church in incredibly powerful ways. We attended an Anglican Church here in Kigali today, complete with hymns and praise songs, corporate prayer, children singing, and a powerful message on the parable of the Banqueting table. It was the "early" service at 8:30, and was about 3/4 full. All in English. Then the 10:30 service was in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda's language), and it was completely full and overflowing. The service was lively and powerful. Hearing the songs sung in Kinyarwanda made me think of Heaven. Chances are we probably won't be singing in English, but "all tribes and all tongues will praise Him." Even though I didn't know what exact words they were singing in the second service, I could tell what they were singing about, and who they were singing to.
There were hundreds of children present. I actually wanted to attend the Children's service because the singing was so amazing. People here sing with passion and hope and purpose. They give with great generosity. Each day is a blessing. I know I am guilty many times of just "showing up" for Church, and going through the motions. Listening instead of interacting.
It is very encouraging as well to see the partnership between Compassion projects and the local churches here in Rwanda. This is true for every Compassion project. There has to be a local church to partner with. Seeing this partnership in action is even more evidence of the Biblical model for the Church- taking care of the least of these, the children, the widows, the orphans. Giving hope to those trapped in poverty. When we visit these children and families and community leaders and pastors who are engaged in this partnership, it is like seeing a small glimpse into Heaven.
My theology about the poor and for the poor and those living in poverty is being refined and defined on this trip. I used to think the greatest role we can play is to provide food to those in poverty. That is definitely part of the equation. But not the full solution. The greatest challenge for those living in poverty is no hope. But what Compassion does is it gives children HOPE. And the family members HOPE. And the communities where Compassion projects exist have HOPE.
I can see hope in the eyes of the Children we meet. I saw hope today in the eyes of the Congregation members at Church. I see hope across this country of Rwanda.