How You Can Help Bring God’s Love to Rwanda’s Poorest Children

IMG_8127

The whole Kigali Christian School student body gathers for a morning assembly.

Each weekday morning at Kigali Christian School (KCS), located in Rwanda’s capital city, hundreds of students gather outside for a 7:30 A.M. assembly. In perfect unison, the rows of children, sorted by age, sing three versions of “Jesus Loves Me”: one in Kinyarwanda, their native tongue; a second in French; and finally, a third in English. The youngest students are only three years old.

This scene provides the perfect snapshot of KCS, which aims to provide quality education in a Christian environment—a mission that means faith comes first, literally: From the morning assembly onward, “we intentionally share the word of God with the students,” says JMV Nsengimana, the school director for the Rwamagana campus in Eastern Rwanda. Although other schools in the area might claim to provide a Christian education, “what they [often] teach is actually religious studies,” he says. By contrast, “we emphasize salvation by grace. We want to provide transformative Bible study, not only knowledge.”

IMG_8132

KCS students line up to sing, dance, and learn about Jesus at the morning assembly.

A secondary goal of the school is to make the country’s economic differences—which can be vast—a non-issue. “There was a time when rich parents were saying, ‘No, my child cannot study with [poor children],’” says Gilbert Muhire, school director for the Kigali campus. But, now, “when they are in uniforms, you cannot discover this one is poor family, this one is rich family,” even though nearly 20 percent of the 862 students are sponsored, meaning an outside donor pays their tuition. As Jean Baptiste Mugarura, national director for Youth for Christ Rwanda, puts it: “We have kids from the rich families learning with—and from—the kids in the poorest class. Having that kind of community has given our school a unique identity.”

IMG_8076

Signs on the KCS campus remind students of the core values they’re taught.

Sponsors, more than 20 of whom are from Maryland, donate $50 per month to cover the cost of one student’s tuition, daily lunch, and school supplies and uniforms. To put this in Rwanda’s economic context, “families earn anywhere from $0 a month—they’re just doing their best to survive,” says Brad Burnfield, who oversees Youth for Christ’s national ministries in Rwanda, to about $75 a month for a family of five or six.

For primary students (kindergarten through 6th grade), this $600-per-year sponsorship is sufficient to cover the school’s costs. But for secondary students (7th through 12th), the necessary funding is closer to $750, requiring KCS to supplement the tuition of any sponsored students in upper grades.

IMG_8266

Preschool students at the Eastern campus prepare for a day of learning.

Each year, the school can only afford to add 10 unsponsored students who require funding from KCS, which means the sponsorship program is necessary if the school hopes to grow. And, the reality is, that expansion is already happening: Two years ago, a second campus, currently serving preschool through fourth grade, opened in Rwamagana in Eastern Rwanda, a rural area with a higher percentage of sponsored students. The goal is to add two more grades at this campus in the near future, and eventually, to add a secondary school.

Most pressing, though, is securing ongoing sponsorship for 90 students at the East campus who are currently funded by one generous donor through the end of 2017. “We have this window of April to December to get sponsors for these kids to stay at school,” says Mugarura. Otherwise, they’ll be forced to drop out or attend public schools, which often have 80 children per class and questionably qualified teachers.

“Most of the students we have couldn’t actually afford this kind of education without sponsorship,” since the parents are often subsistence farmers, explains Nsengimana.

IMG_8274

The LifePoint team tours the Rwamagana campus with school director JMV Nsengimana (center) and national director Jean Baptiste Mugarura (right).

And it’s not just an education, both academic and spiritual, that Kigali Christian School provides. In December, a seven-year-old student from the main campus was impaled on the side while on school break, and since his mother—a widow with four children—couldn’t afford the $100 surgery, he attended school while severely injured, forcing his teachers to provide care in the classroom. In response, teachers organized a fundraising campaign, and students donated any coins they could spare; some even pulled money from their school accounts to contribute. “The teachers really demonstrated love for this child,” says Muhire. The boy was able to have the surgery, prompting his mother to call KCS her “umbrella,” a source of protection against life’s storms.

“We thank God for what is going on in this school,” says Richard Emomeri, the primary school director at the Kigali campus. “We see God’s love manifested through the staff…I see the teachers serving the kids, giving more than lessons.”

Want to sponsor a child? To sign up, click here.

Contributed by Laura Tedesco

Bringing Hope to Unwed Mothers in Rwanda

Anathalié Umugwaneza was nine months pregnant when she interviewed for her current job. For most employers in her home country of Rwanda, her bulging belly would have disqualified her—but at Youth for Christ (YFC), based in the capital city of Kigali, it only added to the 34-year-old psychologist’s appeal. Now a mother of two, including a three-month-old baby boy, Umugwaneza was recently hired to spearhead the organization’s fledgling Crisis Pregnancy Ministry (CPM), which will fill an obvious void in the country’s ability to care for women facing unplanned pregnancies.

IMG_8147

A Christian counselor, Anathalié Umugwaneza has a heart for serving vulnerable women.

Nearly half of all pregnancies among Rwandan women are unintended, according to a 2012 Guttmacher Institute report. Even more alarming is that 22 percent of these unplanned pregnancies end in abortion, although the procedure is legal only in very limited circumstances (rape, incest, forced marriage, or for health reasons). A disproportionate number—about one third—of the country’s abortions occur in Kigali, where the ministry will initially be focused.

Since abortion is mostly prohibited—and with just one doctor per 17,000 Rwandans—“women [seeking abortion] don’t approach doctors or midwives,” says Umugwaneza. Instead, abortions are often performed, illegally and riskily, at home, either by traditional (and untrained) healers or the women themselves, according to the Guttmacher report. This practice explains, in part, why 17,000 Rwandan women are treated each year for abortion-related complications, which are far more likely among poor women. “This shows that we really need CPM in this country,” says Umugwaneza, who clarifies that the center isn’t there to promote unplanned pregnancy or abortion, but rather to share the love of Christ with women and encourage them to choose life.

IMG_8249

Anathalié Umugwaneza opened her home to the LifePoint Rwanda team during their March trip.

It’s not just the legal and medical risks of abortion that motivate the ministry, though. Umugwaneza also hopes to combat Rwanda’s strong stigma against single mothers and women who’ve had an abortion. If you choose either path, “you are no longer accepted in society,” she explains. “Women [who’ve had an abortion] even think that if they were Christian, they are no longer Christian.” Adds Jean Baptiste Mugarura, the national director for YFC Rwanda: “If a girl gets pregnant out of marriage, the family says, ‘Get out of here. Get out of school.’”

In fact, last year, a high-school student at YFC’s Kigali Christian School (KCS) stopped attending—and the staff discovered it was because she was pregnant, and her mother was too ashamed to send her to school. “For most of them, the easy option is to remove this baby and move on,” says Mugarura. But the KCS student chose to have her baby, thanks to counseling and help from the school staff, and is now back in the classroom.

IMG_8079

YFC Rwandas national director Jean Baptiste Mugarura shares a sweet moment with a student on the Kigali Christian School campus.

Stories like this are why the center—which will be given a more welcoming name than CPM—will prioritize providing more than just diapers and baby clothing: Umugwaneza, along with trained volunteers, will offer peer counseling, group support, pregnancy testing, and post-abortion care to an estimated 10 to 20 clients per month. The ministry will also refer women to health care services, including hospitals, centers for sexual abuse victims, and a local clinic run by a Canadian missionary and midwife. Eventually, YFC aims to partner with the police, who could refer potential clients to the center, and start a residential program for women and children in need.

Although young women and teens with unintended pregnancies are the primary target, the ministry will also assist babies, married women with unplanned pregnancies, sexual abuse victims, young fathers-to-be, and women who require post-abortion counseling.

As evidence of the need for such a broad scope of care, Umugwaneza recalls a married woman she met who became pregnant with a baby her husband didn’t want. “Before marriage, the man said, ‘I only need two children,’” Umugwaneza says. When the woman became pregnant with a third child, her husband refused to speak to her. “Now, the lady has a young, beautiful baby, but the husband [still won’t] speak to the wife,” says Umugwaneza. This situation, she explains, demonstrates the necessity of counseling women of all walks of life—single and married, poor and rich, Christian and non-Christian.

With the official launch slated for July, Umugwaneza has a busy few months ahead: recruiting and training volunteers, visiting similar centers in Uganda, and launching an awareness campaign in churches, schools, and hospitals to spread the word about the center. Most pressing, though, is raising the funds to rent an office in Kigali or, eventually, construct a building on the school campus. Currently, Umugwaneza is working out of an office in the KCS administrative building, which lacks the privacy necessary for the ministry. “God willing, we want the ministry to take place on this campus,” says Mugarura, “and it should be a separate space.”

IMG_8152

A proposed site for the Crisis Pregnancy Ministry building on the Kigali Christian School campus

Women from LifePoint’s MOPS group have already donated clothing to the ministry—and now, the CPM team asks for members to prayerfully consider contributing to the ministry’s rent, estimated to be $1,000 per month, plus another $500 for upkeep, or eventually, the construction of a building. To do so, please click here.

Contributed by Laura Tedesco

Mission Trips for 2017!

We have several teams visiting our partners around the world in 2017! We hope many of you will join one of these teams. This year, and most years, during the summer, we send a team to each of our partners. And then there are other trips throughout the year, and those vary each year. So its good to always check our church website for the latest information. You can click here to check it out.

At the time of this posting, here’s the rundown:

Haiti, June 28-July 5 Deadline to apply is 12/21 click here for trip information then apply here
Guatemala, Aug 13-20 Deadline to apply is 1/31 click here for trip information then apply here
Ukraine, estimated dates of trip Aug 3-14 Deadline to apply is 2/2
click here for trip information then apply here
Rwanda, Aug 5-14 Deadline to apply is 1/23 click here for trip information the apply here

Making a Real Impact in the Lives of Orphans

The picture below is a significant one. It appears to simply be a crowded lobby at LifePoint Church. But its so much more than that. This is a crowd of people that want to know how they can help orphans and children that are vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment. In the middle of this crowd there are volunteer ministry leaders for Ukraine, Haiti, Guatemala, Rwanda and Legacy Orphan Ministry. This happened after our services on October 22/23.

That weekend, 38 kids were sponsored in 4 different countries.
74 different people signed up to learn more about being engaged in Global Outreach and orphan care.

This is just the beginning! We’re excited to see how God continues to use LifePoint Church!

lobby-pic

New Media about G.O. & Legacy!

We’re excited about a new booklet we’ve created to highlight LifePoint’s Global Outreach and Legacy Orphan Ministry. Click on the picture below to have a look!

Layout 1

Haiti Update

The loss of life in Haiti due to Hurricane Matthew is heartbreaking. However, it is wonderful to see how much impact Mission of Hope Haiti is able to make in the recovery efforts! Some areas have been inaccessible by road for days following the storm. Mission of Hope Haiti has been collaborating with USAID, the military, Samaritan’s Purse, Convoy of Hope and others to get to hard-to-reach people. They have used barges and even helicopters to deliver water, food and medical supplies. You can find lots of great updates and photos of their work on the Mission of Hope Haiti Facebook page (click here).

haiti-barge

This MOH Haiti photo from Oct 15, 2016 shows a barge delivery of food to a storm ravaged area in Haiti called Jeremie.

Haiti Hurricane Relief

Our partner in Haiti is Mission of Hope Haiti. They have been in Haiti since the early 90’s. They’re well placed and ready to help the people of Haiti! We can help them by giving to support their relief efforts.

haiti-hurricane-relief

When God Moves, He Moves People

by Joe Paschal

Growing up, the only thing I knew about refugees was that Tom Petty sang a song in which he said, “you don’t have to live like refugee.” Then, in 2000, I got a job at World Relief resettling refugees in Atlanta, GA. Then, not only did I quickly learn the US government’s definition of a refugee, but I also had the privilege of meeting and befriending many amazing people who were starting their lives over in the United States.

syrian refugees

Syrian children walk during a sandstorm at a refugee camp. (Photo credit: LA Times. Click photo for source article.)

I call it a privilege because I was given the opportunity to witness one of the ways God is moving in the world. When God moves, He moves people–literally, in some cases. When God chose a people to set aside and become His people, He called Abraham and asked him to pack up his family and move. And ever since those days, God has been moving people in and out of countries and across borders all for one purpose. In Acts 17:26-27, Paul says, God “decided beforehand when [nations] should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (NLT).

I don’t want to over-simplify, but to put it another way, when people in a country aren’t allowed to search and find God, sometimes He moves them out of that country’s borders into a different place where they will have the chance to know Him.

Depending on which news source you read, there are nearly 4 million Syrians that have fled their home country seeking shelter inside a different set of borders. (And there’s another 6-7 million Syrians on the run still inside the country. They are “internally displaced.”) These are record numbers! So many people suffering!

But remember: When God moves, He moves people. Right now, there are millions of people on the move. Is He moving them closer to finding Himself?

And what about you? Is He “moving” you to help? I pray that He is.

You can help. Here’s how:

  1. PRAY. Pray for refugees and IDPs (internally displaced people). God knows every one of them by name and loves them just like He loves you and me. Pray that God provides for these families.
  2. GIVE. You can give to support ministries that have “boots on the ground” where the Syrian refugees are. You can give through LifePoint Church online. Just give the way you normally do on our website, but choose “Syrian Refugees” from the drop down menu. LifePoint will give all of the donations to ministries on the front lines of the Syrian refugee crisis.
  3. WELCOME. Did you know that World Relief resettles refugees right here in the metro Baltimore area? You can welcome refugees to the United States and help them begin their new lives! Click here to get started.

Run for the World! 5K to Help Students Going to Ethiopia

This summer, our student ministries is sending a team of students to Ethiopia! Its so great to have young people catching the vision to share God’s love globally. And we have a fun opportunity to help them–a 5K and fun run!

The run is on May 16 at LifePoint Church. For more information and registration, please click here.

5K run

Update on Ann Rae!

Ann Rae Keel (Full)Did you know that Ann Rae has a blog where she writes about her experiences in Ethiopia? We’re excited to see how God will use her in the community called Korah. She’s been there a couple of weeks now getting settled into her new normal. Check out her first post here (click here). We love her funny story about the shower!

Please remember to pray for Ann Rae and for all the people and teams we send out from LifePoint. Most of all, please pray for the people we work with in other countries and the people who hear the Gospel as a result of that work! You can learn more about them through our Facebook and this Global Partner page.

 

%d bloggers like this: