We were asked this thoughtful question many times during our stay in the U.S. (May 2020-July 2021) and have reported that, like everywhere else, it has been very difficult. Various lockdowns, masking mandates, and social distancing and movement guidelines have seemed to be very helpful at containing the spread of illness, and for that we are extremely thankful! However, isolation, lack of ability to work and to worship the Lord with others have had severe consequences both physically and emotionally to many people whose livelihoods depend on day-to-day jobs and whose hearts depend on being with other people in every situation.
While we were gone, the Lord sustained the leaders in the Evangelical Friends Church of Rwanda (EFC-R) and gave them creative ideas such as taking turns writing and sending devotions to each other by phone messages, joining in regular video calls to encourage each other, recording sermons, and responding to local churches to help their most needy church and community members. They have also initiated the Pastors’ Development Fund to help pastors with their livelihood. With EFM joining in partnership, pastors can develop income-generating plans and work with a local group of leaders to refine that plan and take out a loan when needed. This is exciting to see pastors more able to take care of their families as well as their congregations, and we hope that these bi-vocational skills and experience will be useful in the future as we dream of pastors and leaders being sent to where there are no churches, even across borders to the mission fields!
In D for D, specifically, leaders focused on discipling their families, and we have seen encouraging testimonies of families growing closer to Jesus and all that he wants them to be. Without being able to travel, they’ve remained connected to Congo and Burundi discipleship groups by phone, encouraging them to continue following up on their group members’ progress. Through all this, we believe the Lord is empowering and growing leaders in discipleship, and we pray that growth will continue exponentially into the future!
Brad has embarked on a challenging but exciting new journey! He has started a Masters’ program through Fuller Seminary (online) for the purpose of learning and preparing for the future task of helping our African friends to raise up, train, and send their own missionaries.
Though we originally thought we would only spend a few months in the United States, living life through a full year with our extended family nearby was very special. Our transition back to Rwanda has had its ups and downs, but we are very grateful that we have mostly settled back into our life and home in Rwanda at this point.
Sarai (almost 9) and Gideon (6) have enjoyed being back at Virunga Valley Academy (VVA) for school, learning and playing with friends. They both have expressed missing their family in the states, especially their cousins, but we can see that they are appreciating some of the special people and opportunities in Rwanda too.
Ian (1) has not skipped a beat since touching down in Rwanda. He loves exploring, running, and playing everywhere. He loves going on walks to see the neighborhood goats, cows, and vehicles on the nearby road. We are thankful that he also loves reading books and has gotten to know and love our Rwandan friends that work in and around our home.