From Pastor Gary in Rwanda
As part of my sabbatical, I am in Rwanda for the second of nine trainings over a three year period. We are training a group of 16 pastors in how to study, teach and handle God's word more accurately and faithfully. This is a great group of pastors who love Jesus and are eager to grow in knowing, understanding, obeying, applying and teaching God's living word.
Here we are in small groups, digging into God's word--notice our friends keeping their fingers in the text!
Pastor Esron and his wife Kizia along with some of our group and me in front of the Evangelical Church of Rwanda (EFCR) Kigali. Pastor Esron is pastor here, and the President our our sister denomination, the EFCR. There are about 70 EFCR's in Rwanda! He is a Godly, humble, powerful servant of The Lord, and his wife serves The Lord with great joy. We are hoping that Pastor Esron will be in the US in 2015 and will spend a few days with us at Paseo del Rey. He is very grateful for your sending me to him and his pastors.
Lunch time at our training, about 1:30 p.m. each day. The women of the church prepare this lunch each day over wood burning stoves for the group. This is the staple diet: potatoes, rice, beans, a slaw of some sort, some sauce and a little bit of beef. It's really tasty and fills you up.
Sunday we traveled about 3.5 hours to Kigufi in the Kibungo region of Rwanda. Kigufi is about 2 miles from the Tanzania border. The eight EFCR's in the region celebrated what they called "Big Sunday" where they all gather for one big worship service. It was awesome--outdoors on a beautiful Rwandan day, seven choirs and dancers, 300 or so worshipers of Jesus, lunch for all, 6 + hours (!) and we were invited to open God's word. And the best part was seven people prayed to believe in Jesus this day, and follow up began immediately.
Here's my partner, Pastor Zach Grell opening God's word at the "Big Sunday" gathering. Zach's dad Pastor Dan Grell and I are long time friends. In 1985 our church cared for the Grell family--including 6 year old Zach--as Zach's mom was struggling with cancer and being treated in Mexico. Our family has kept up with the Grells all these years and they were our contact for a mission team to England when they served as missionaries there in about 1998, and first introduced us to Paseo del Rey's friends Pastor Simon and Julie Mawdsley of Stoke on Trent England. Zach is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and pastors an EFCA just outside Chicago, along with his wife Kristy, and kids Hudson, Selah and Haven.
Some of the group of new believers in Jesus.
Here are a couple of video of the great worship that morning:
Thanks for praying for us as Paseo del Rey touches the ends of the earth for Jesus! Zach and I will be returning to the US on Monday.
I will look forward to sharing more with you when I return from sabbatical in mid October.
Note from Derek: In case you missed it, here's a video greeting from Pastor Gary (we didn't receive it in time to play it during our worship gatherings this past Sunday):