In his recent newsletter, Phil Wray shared the following text about his imminent trip to Rwanda:
In about a week’s time I will be leading a team of 13 to work in partnership with SU Rwanda for 3 weeks. It all began in January 2012 with a conversation with Charlie Morris, Director of Urban Saints in Scotland (previously Crusaders), regarding a trip to Rwanda he was endeavouring to pull together. Urban Saints had previously run this trip, working alongside SU Rwanda, but were now struggling to attract enough young people to make it viable. From my perspective, I had been exploring whether I could develop a partnership between ourselves and another SU movement in East/Central Africa; knowing that we’d probably have plenty of young people interested. Rarely has the option of partnership looked so obvious!
By August last year we were jointly advertising our Respond Rwanda 2013 trip to young people, and by Christmas we had 10 enthusiastic and gifted teenagers signed up; plus I had been joined by two capable assistant team leaders. About SU Rwanda I must confess there is still heaps I don’t know about SU Rwanda, but I am gleaning facts from them as our conversations develop. As one would expect, they have a strong emphasis on Bible ministry and produce their own reading notes, in the Kinyarwandan language. They have relationships with schools across the country and there appear to be some groups associated with schools. There is also a strong focus on camps ministry, for both the older teenage and younger ‘betweenager’ groups. Some of these events use a Life Skills programme that has been developed for (sub-Saharan) African SU movements, with an emphasis on reducing teen pregnancy and HIV transmission.
SU Rwanda has a significant sized compound in Kigali (where we will be staying for most of our visit) and they hold many other events here, including training of staff, volunteers, and Sunday school teachers. They also run a programme with orphans and other vulnerable children here too. Of course, Rwanda is still dealing with the atrocities of the 1994 genocide, and the huge scars it left. During 100 days of fighting, it is estimated that up to 1 million Tutsi’s and moderate Hutu’s were killed. Hundreds of thousands more fled as refugees, and have been slowly returning since. After the genocide, tens of thousands of perpetrators were detained, and the prisons became hugely over-crowded. The judicial system became utterly swamped, and more recently, in order to address the enormous backlog, thousands have been released to be held to account more locally. This village level justice system, known as gacaca, works with those who admit their guilt and, alongside involvement from the victims’ family members, seeks to bring restitution. The church is heavily involved in supporting this; encouraging forgiveness and restoration, even in the face of horrific violence. There are now many examples of perpetrators building homes for the relatives of those they murdered.
How can you pray for our programme in Rwanda? Our whole programme has been arranged through close discussion with SU Rwanda, seeking at all times to complement their ongoing ministry. We will be engaging with a group of orphans that SU works with on their compound; helping paint a newly built nursery that is part of a partner church outside Kigali; visit with other teenage bible groups around the country; help at a teen camp focussing on Life Skills; and a second camp for younger children.