Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Happened to us in Rwanda?

Dear Friends and Family,

Thanks to your encouragement, prayers, and financial gifts, we made it to Rwanda and back safely. Thank you all for being patient with us as we took some time to talk through things with our church before sending this report letter to you. Now that we have a plan, we would like to share with you about how our trip went, and where we see God leading us from here.

First, the trip was everything we were hoping for. While we were in Rwanda we visited two churches, spoke with several Rwandan Church leaders, ate in a Rwandan home and several Rwandan restaurants, visited a church’s children’s program, visited the Rwandan history museum, drove a significant length of the country (which is only about the size of Maryland), visited the market, observed the day-to-day life of our hosts (and their three energetic children), visited and observed the pastoral training school that we are hoping to join, slept under mosquito nets, drank about 10 Fantas (the drink that every good host offers his/her guests), took walks through neighborhoods in Kigali (the capital city), and even visited a Starbucks-ripoff coffee shop complete with Caramel Macchiato. All in just 2 weeks! In short, we were able to get a taste of what Rwanda is like, see what needs the church there has, observe what living conditions would be like if we were to move there, and picture how our gifts could be used in ministry with the Rwandan church.

One thing that really impacted us was the realization that the church in Rwanda has a lot of very deep needs. For one, the vast majority of their pastors are untrained and are hungry for Biblical and practical instruction. For example, one pastor who we visited told us that his greatest need was not financial, but was training in how to be a pastor. He had not gone to seminary or been ordained before becoming a pastor. Rather, he told us that he was a layperson who had been slowly given more and more responsibility in the church until eventually he was running it completely. To make matters more difficult, church leaders usually do not mentor those below them, because there is a fear that if you train someone below you, they will rise up and steal your position. This means that if you cannot pay for formal instruction, as most pastors cannot, then you have no options for learning the Bible or training in ministry.

The ministry that we hope to work with was formed to address this exact need in the Rwandan Church. Their core ministry is a 4-year school that uses a modular setting to train pastors in Biblical Studies, Theology, and Ministry skills. It is a very exciting ministry that is addressing one of the most important needs of the Rwandan Church, and because the education is heavily subsidized, it is available to even the poorest of students. Were we to join this school, Luke would use his education from as a teacher in the school, likely specializing in theology and Church history. Jaymi would use her skills and experience to work in their Children’s Ministry Training program, which helps churches create effective gospel-centered children’s ministries within the pastor’s churches.

So what’s the conclusion? We feel that God has used this trip to confirm our calling to go work in Rwanda. The work that they are doing in Rwanda is very important and fits perfectly with our gifting. In addition, we feel both a peace and a tremendous excitement to get back there, which has only increased the longer we’ve been back.

Because of this, we have begun the process of applying to return to Rwanda long-term. So far we have applied with our home church’s mission board, and they are excited by our vision. While Luke finishes school, they plan to help prepare us by offering us a number of opportunities both to be mentored and to serve in ministry, with the ultimate goal of us being appointed with the missionary organization in June 2011. At that time, we will begin seeking individuals and churches to partner with us and help send us to Rwanda, while also preparing to leave as soon as we can.

In the meantime, we’ll continue growing through the work of our church, finishing graduate school, and adjusting to life with two boys under 2 (second baby due any day now!). We’ll begin sending out updates again next spring as we approach the appointment time with the mission board.

Thank you all for your prayers and gifts. We most certainly would not have made it to Rwanda this summer without you, and we are grateful to God that we did.


Luke, Jaymi, Ayden, and Baby

In the coming months, please continue to pray with us:
  • That our hearts will continue to be drawn to Rwanda and our future life and ministry there.
  • That we will be focused, effective, and learn a lot while finishing school and serving in our church and neighborhood in Chicago.
  • For the current work being done at NCM in Rwanda and the team that we will be joining.
  • For smooth adjustments for our boys, as the next few years will include a lot of travelling and transition.


Late winter and into spring of 2010, I started blogging about our potential path to the mission field. Then in May I dumped our support letter onto the blog with little explanation. I've been absent from the blogger world ever since. Sorry.

We went to Rwanda for the last 2 weeks of May and it was an INCREDIBLE trip (my next post will be a copy of our letter with the details of the trip). In short, we plan to go back long-term. By the time we left there we were thinking that that is what God wanted us to do. But before announcing that to the whole world, we wanted to have confirmation from our church that they believed that we should be heading there. After all, they are the ones who know us best and ultimately would be sending us as an extension of the local church. We figured it would be a few weeks of conversations, then we would send a follow-up letter (hopefully) exclaiming that we were going to go back!

June came and went and the conversations with the church were sluggish, at best. July came and went with little improvement. We began wondering if they were hesitant about our call to ministry, despite the fact that the conversations that we HAD had were all positive. But we just couldn't seem to get a firm go ahead from them. Very discouraging. It left us both with little to say to anyone who asked follow-up questions about Rwanda. Everything seemed conflicted and in limbo and although we were both still excited about the ministry there, we just weren't sure what was going on. Hence the silence. No follow-up letter to the many, many people who prayed for us and even gave to help cover the cost of the trip. No blogging or posting on Facebook about it. Unless we were directly asked, we rarely even brought it up. We just didn't know what to say.

Finally, in early August, things started moving. We met with 2 of our pastors who enthusiastically said that the church was behind us in this. They had a plan laid out for us to minister in our community and in our church, and for them to mentor us in this preparation process. The waiting and confusion were more related to transitions that the church was going through and confusion that arose from that, and really didn't have much to do with us. It was SO encouraging to have that conversation. We really felt that if God wanted us to go to Rwanda, our church would be a part of that process. Having them finally join us in our enthusiasm for it just pulled everything together and confirmed what we already felt.

So what's next? We plan to apply with the mission board with the goal of being officially appointed with them in June. Being appointed just means that they have approved us to join their mission board, specifically with the Rwanda team. From that point, we will begin connecting with churches and individuals who want to come alongside us and partner with us as our "senders." We'll have a lot of money that needs to be raised and we'll want a lot of people to plan to pray for us. Once that process is complete, we get to go! That process tends to be about a year or so, though. So if you are following the timeline, it's looking like summer 2012 is when we might be actually heading to Rwanda, although I'm sure that timeframe will be adjusted as we go through the process and find that some things move faster or slower than planned.

Meanwhile, Luke is finishing up classes this fall and will have one major test in the spring to complete his master's degree. I am already a day past my due date with baby boy #2, so I plan to have my life turned up-side-down at any moment now. Little Ayden is completely oblivious to the million transitions swirling around him and is just enjoying life as a toddler in the summertime.

I should also note, another reason that I have been so absent from this blog is that I have felt like I needed to lay out where we are in the process (as I just did) before I could really just sit and talk about what I think about it all. So even though I've had thoughts that I might have wanted to post, it seemed too cumbersome to prepare all of the details first. So now I've gotten through that and I plan to post our follow-up letter that we mailed out a few days ago as well. So the story of it all should be up to date and now I can just post what I think about it.

So there you have it. I hope to make this a more active blog again, despite my lack of writing recently. It helps me process. It connects me to others. It seems fitting for me.

And we're going to RWANDA!!! WOO HOO!!