Kayenzi Church, Pastor Damour

New Land

Preparing the new land for building.

Having now worked closely with Pastor Damour, his wife Gloria and their ministry for three years, I can say that all who know him say he is one of the most godly and humble men a person could ever meet. This is one of the reasons I felt led to work with this friend and fellow-laborer. Pastor Damour was born and raised in a village where few travel. Those who were not born there have no reason to go. Virtually no foreigners ever see this part of the country. Few on earth are likely to know of Pastor Damour or his dedicated and faithful service to his Savior, but he continues faithful to his calling.

As shared previously (click here), Pastor Damour has a testimony of being saved from a life of alcoholism, and making a drastic change to becoming a pastor. After faithfully serving and growing his first church, Pastor Damour felt led of God to begin a new church plant about an hour’s walk through the hills in the area of Kayenzi.

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Church Congregation with new Bibles.

 

This church was officially opened in March of 2016 with 12 believers. In the past year, this church has grown to a membership of over 40 saved, disciple and baptized members. As they have grown, they have transitioned from a small house they were formerly renting to a plot of land., purchased for them by donors of Love Alive. In the spring of 2017, the church began preparing this land for building. At this time, this congregation continues to meet outside until the time when God will provide them with a physical building to meet in together.

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Church service.

 

Please pray with them and consider partnering with them as they trust in God’s provision for a physical place of worship. Rwanda has two seasons, that of intense sun, and the other of daily rain. Neither bodes well for regular meetings outside without shelter.

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Children’s worship choir.

Pray also for Pastor Damour as he oversees this church as well as for the teachers, members of Pastor Damour’s congregation who assists in the teaching and shepherding of this congregation.

Pray that God will raise up a pastor who can tend to this church and give sound teaching. Pray that they will continue to grow spiritually and, as they share the gospel with others, they will grow in numbers as well.

Pray for daily provision for the members of this church. On my last visit I noted that not only were there children attending barefoot, but adults as well. Soil erosion is strong in the hills of this area, and crops grow sparsely. These families work hard to grow enough to survive. They rarely see actual money as their living is by farming for their families.

ACTS: Pastor Emmanuel Gatera, Word of Life Church, Kamembe, Rwanda

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Pastor Emmanuel Gatera  

WORD OF LIFE CHURCH (WOLC)

Africa:Rwanda, Western Province, Rusizi District, Kamembe Sector

Pastor Emmanuel Gatera is the pastor of Word of Life Church, and is married to his wife Jane Niyonsaba. Together they have three children.

Emmanuel's family

BACKGROUND AND TESTIMONY

Pastor Gatera was born in on December 25, 1972, and born again in Christ on August 21, 1982.

Born into a Catholic family, it was his brother’s radical freeing from demon possession that led to Gatera’s entire family coming to faith in Jesus Christ. As he says, “My older brother was possessed by the sickness of demons. My parents took him to different hospitals, but he didn’t get the healing because they didn’t know his sickness. After long time they went in Pentecostal Church. There intercessors prayed for him, and received total healing. At that time, my family of 4 people including me discovered the supernatural power of healing, and decided to repent and accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour.”   After his salvation, Pastor Gatera was baptized, and continued to grow in the church, and was active in the worship team.

In 1992, at the age of 20, Gatera felt God calling him to serve God as evangelist. The same year I went to Bible college. He finished 6 years full-time at Bible school in Democratic Republic of Congo, 2 years full-time at Bible College in Kigali, Rwanda, 2 years full-time at Bible College in Kenya, and 4 years at Word of Life Bible College of Canada through online courses. He holds a BS Bible Studies and Doctorate in Practical Ministries.

As a Pastor of WOLC in Kamembe, Rwanda Pastor Gatera continues to minister to orphans, elders, sick, the poor, and widows. He teaches Bible school students every Saturday. He has assisted in the planting of churches in Rwanda and the Congo. He is blessed with his wife and family who stand by and support his visions in the ministry.

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WORD OF LIFE CHURCH

OUR MISSION:

Word of Life is a church intent on connecting people to Jesus and His church through our lives, our words, and our deeds.

OUR VISION:

Making disciples by providing them efficient Christian education that will help them to grow spiritually (Matthew 28:19-20), and to build local churches that will transform cities and nations.

OUR SLOGANS:

Love God! Love People! Love Life! Everyone needs JESUS,

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At the link below, you can see an interview of Gatera discussing his experience during the Rwandan genocide, his testimony, achievements in the ministry, and goals in the ministry.

Video Testimony

Our current prayer items and visions for the Church:

  1. Financial miracle to purchase land and build their church in order to meet with government requirements in order to open their church. They currently share facilities with other churches.
  2. God’s continued provision for my family and our needs.
  3. School fees and materials for school of Orphans and Vulnerable Children we have in the church.
  4. Financial sponsorship for teachers of Bible school. Pastor Gatera currently teaches classes every Saturday voluntarily, but with other teachers or funding, the students could obtain more resources and further studies.
  5. Paying Health Insurance of those in need in our church and community.
  6. Financial miracles for helping church members who live with HIV/AIDS.20170312_111253

 

July 2016 Update

July 2016 Update

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                July 6, 2016

Greetings from Rwanda. In this season, our weather is comparable to yours, sunny, dry, and hot! We do not expect any rain for at least another month, and have seen no rain in 2 months. Needless to say, it is a bit dry, but, laundry sure dries fast! There is also the advantage of never having to cancel or postpone programs due to heavy rains. In a land where few have cars, and most roads are dirt, rain tends to shut down many events.

I am always amazed how much time has elapsed since I last wrote, and then I am reminded of all we have been doing, and the many ways God is working & blessing. When I returned last September, I moved into a small house of 380 square feet. Within the last few months, my household of one turned into a household of 6! Three young boys, who stay with me during all holidays, having nowhere else to go, were here for the 3 months of Christmas holiday. In March, we learned that 2 of our vocational training students were walking 6 hours, round-trip for school each day. They moved in with me. In April a young boy needing physical therapy stayed in my home for a few weeks to have access to the hospital. The very day he left, I was walking home late in the night and found a 7-year-old boy, sleeping in the street. He saw me, and called me by name, having recognized me from coming to our Saturday Bible club. In short, JP is orphaned, and had been sleeping in the streets since his mother died. JP now lives with me, attends school, and considers himself a permanent family member. Only 2 days after JP came, a mother of some of our sponsored children who has consistently tried to give me her children once again asked me to take her kids to live with me. This time, I found out they were again living in the streets. We met with local authorities, and those 2 children ages 5 and 8 also came to live with me as a temporary solution. After a one-month stay, Jennifer and Randall graciously opened the annex of their home for these children to come and live together with their mother. It is our prayer that the mother will be able to obtain work and soon be able to support herself and her children. Please pray for this family, as there are many steps that must be made before that can happen. As two other situations have come up in the last week of others needing a place to stay, I am moving into a new house!

Hospital Care: We are delighted to continue our partnership with the local hospital, where we are able to provide treatment of many patients each month. We continue to visit regularly to pray with patients and bring gifts. Love Alive was able to provide care for yet a third baby this month, as the baby was in this hospital, the mother in another hospital about 2 hours away, and no one else was able to care for the child. Mother and child have now been reunited. In addition, we have helped in several personal ways as two children of our Sewing Center students needed emergency care, one after swallowing and pen cap that lodged itself in his intestines, and another after falling 35 feet into a hole, fracturing his skull and breaking his femur. Both are in recovery at this time.

Goats and Chickens: In May, we gave several goats to a group of women wanting to raise goats for income, but also to give goats to others. I am told these goats are already expecting offspring. Just last week, Randall helped us implement a program of providing 200 chickens for 20 families in an impoverished village. A spokesman for the group of recipients asked me to share the group’s gratitude, and to tell you that the same way that they have been helped, they hope to use the gift they are given to help others in their community. The purpose of the giving of chickens is to provide nutritional and income-generating opportunities, while teaching small-savings and sharing the love of Christ.

Bible Clubs: Our two weekly Bible clubs are near the conclusion of their 20-week curriculum. We have weekly seen 120 children at our Gako location, and 170 each week at our Kinamba location. We have already selected another location to begin our next Bible club in the same town as our sewing and salon centers, and plan to begin that this month. Please pray that we will see children trust Jesus as their Savior through this program.

Salon & Sewing: Our Salon students absolutely love the days their guest teacher Jennifer comes to teach. These students are nearing the completion of their certification, and will soon be finishing their program and seeking jobs. Our sewing students continue to amaze me with their zeal and joy in learning. They have begun staying after school to take on small jobs already, though graduation is still 5 months away. Most of these students had written out prayer requests for me back in May. It has been wonderful to see several answers to these prayers and be able to rejoice with these ladies and remind them that God is watching over them and He cares.

Sponsorship: In June we purchased annual health insurance ($5 per person) for all sponsored students in our program. Without insurance many of our students stay sick for long periods of time, and miss much school. With insurance they can easily see doctors and get the medications they need to restore health. We were blessed to be able to help them in this way.

Upcoming Events: We are hosting a 3-day youth conference later this month, and we are also planning a pastors’ conference in August as we greatly desire to enhance the local church with biblical training. My dad, Bob Yockey, Randall Smith, and a Rwandan evangelist Mbanzamugabo Aminadab are preparing now for this conference. We greatly appreciate your prayers for this event.

In May, I was introduced to a group of young unwed mothers, who have literally been cast-out of society. “Their scarlet letters” have caused them complete rejection by family, the church, school, and any potential of friendship and advancement in life. I am greatly burdened to reach out to these young girls, and shine the light of Christ to them. I am praying now about the ways we can potentially help these young ladies in the near future. Please pray with me.

God bless you and keep you!  Laura Yockey

Mission Team 2015

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Earlier this month a joint mission team led by Poplar Grove, and joined by members of Steven’s Street Baptist Church and Vine Branch all of Cookeville, TN blessed me with their time, their love and compassion, their hard work, and times of Bibles study with hundreds of Rwandans in many locations.

This team was a blessing last year, and they were just as much of an encouragement and support to the people and ministry this year.

The first day, the team ministered to one of our sewing centers, visiting with current students and graduates. As these students shared their testimonies there was a repeated theme: “I had no ability and no opportunity for improving my life, but God opened up this opportunity through this sewing center of Love Alive, and now I have a chance to make a better life.”  The students blessed the team with hand-made gifts and fruits from their gardens, while the team shared Bible teachings and practical gifts. Former graduates invited us to their cooperative to demonstrate for us how they are working together and producing good work to sell in the markets.

The team spent the next 3 days in a village church, ministering both to the church and the community. The goal was to develop a friendship between the local Rwandan church and community and the guest churches. The team held daily services of Bible teaching, Bible study groups of men and women, and children’s classes as well. They visited many families in the community to read Bible passages and pray together, and saw 2 people accept Christ as personal Savior. One of the most unique things the team participated in during this 3 day-partnership of churches was “mudding” the church’s newly constructed building. This mudding process consists first of gathering large quantities of dirt, manure and rocks, mixing them thoroughly together, and coating the outside of the building in order to seal it and protect the building from erosion.  Due to gifts given through donations to Love Alive, we also presented this church with funding to add doors and windows to their facility. They were so grateful for this gift that they had the doors and windows ordered to arrive the very next day.

Before leaving this village, the mission team was able to meet a nearby church in the same community, and provide 60 Bibles to adult believers there. In this church of over 100 adults and children, only one member in addition to the pastor owned a Bible. It is a great privilege to be able to give God’s Word and encourage His people to read and get to know Him better. As I sat in this little church only half constructed of unfinished mud brick, but happy believers actively worshipping, I could not help but contemplate the dissimilarity of the average American church in priority and desire to serve and worship against all odds.

The following day, the team visited our second sewing center of 30 current students and several graduates who came to thank the team and tell of how they are now succeeding with the tools they have gained. It is often difficult to know who is gaining the greater blessing, the team in hearing the testimonies of persons assisted, or the beneficiaries we meet. That same day the team traveled to the hospital with which Love Alive works closely in providing funding to patients in need. After a brief meeting with the staff who welcomed us to openly share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the team went to each room, visiting each patient to pray with them, and bring small gifts to aid in their recovery, remind them they are loved, and that God, our Great Healer, is watching over them. The final stop of the day was visiting 100 sponsored students in this area to share a Bible lesson and play games together. The children were in awe and full of enthusiasm to see and play with the colorful parachutes, something they had never seen before.  Several of our team members were able to meet some of their sponsored students. I cannot imagine that any other experience could make more real to these children and their families the love and compassion they are receiving than meeting the sponsor who loves them enough to enter their world and give them assistance. I imagine that nothing makes the necessity of the gift given more real to the sponsor than seeing the dire needs of these children and their families, and meeting the beautiful lives they are touching and impacting daily than a face-to-face meeting.

The day before leaving, the team visited recipients of one of our most recent chicken projects, delivering more food and nutrition supplements for the chickens, and sharing Bible teachings with the group. After this, the team visited two different churches in this same village. The first church had received Bibles from Love Alive in July, and the visit was to encourage the local believers and strengthen our friendship. It was a blessing to see so many Bibles in use amongst this group. At the next church, the team was able to give Bibles to about 75 believers. Most of these recipients had never in their lives owned a Bible. With each church that is given Bibles, it is our desire to go back and share in Bible teachings and reading to encourage the daily use of God’s word.

Before leaving on their final day in Rwanda, the team was able to visit some of my favorite children, a group of children living in the worst conditions I have ever seen in this country. Love Alive began sponsoring these children after they repeatedly would find me in the streets as they begged for food. They quickly claimed themselves as my best friends, invited me to their home and became some of our first sponsored students. As there was nowhere else to meet or play, the team played soccer and taught a Bible lesson in the midst of heaps of trash and ditches filled with sewer. These children were so excited to have visitors come and see them and play with them. While their living standards are lacking, I could see the effort they had put into making themselves and their homes ready for special guests.

As soon as I see any of the men, women, children and churches visited by this team, their first question to me is and will continue to be, “How are our friends? When will they return to see us? Please tell them we love them and miss them. We are waiting for them to return.”

Mission teams have a way of impacting lives, building friendships and encouraging local communities and believers in a way that no other thing can accomplish.

I thank each member of this team for their love, compassion, their time, efforts, vacation days given and exhaustion from long flights and travel that is not always smooth in this continent. I also thank each church that was involved and supported its members in this journey.

God bless you.

Allow me to take this opportunity to assure you that you have a standing invitation to come to Rwanda and join us in the ministries and see God working. Whether you would like to come as a church mission team, as a family, group of friends, or an individual, you are welcome. Please feel free to contact me via our contact page and let me know what you might be interested in. We can work together to craft a trip according to your desires for ministry and international experience.

Needs here that can be addressed through short-term trips include:

Bible teaching to pastors, church leaders, teachers and lay-persons.

Children’s ministries through sports, play, Bible Clubs, Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday School Trainings to church leaders, and teaching children in schools.

Encouraging and supporting local trade, and increasing creativity and ingenuity. If you have a passion, a talent, an art form that you can teach, it may be very valuable to come and teach that.

Ministering to individuals in hospitals, prisons, and homes, sharing encouragement, prayers and friendship.

Wrapping up 2014

Wrapping up 2014

Dear Friends & Family,

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I have just returned from 4 days in a rural village a few hours from here where we saw several visitors come to Salvation during the Sunday morning service. Monday through Wednesday, we held a Children’s Bible school. While the church normally has about 60 children in attendance we saw 200 each day for Bible school. Our emphasis was on Jesus, His miracles, His love for us, and His great Salvation.

Last month I was thrilled and blessed to have our first mission team come to visit. The team made up of members of Poplar Grove Baptist Church and one member of Stevens Street Baptist Church, both in Cookeville, TN participated in a full week of ministry outreach from children’s programs in local schools and churches to encouraging believers in the church and in their homes. Upon visiting a rural church and learning that only 5 of the 60 adult members owned a Bible, the team provided Bibles for this church. The team was certainly a blessing wherever they went, and I am so grateful for their visit. If any individuals or teams are interested in visiting here, I will do all I can to arrange accommodations and help you plan a great trip.

After being in the US for several weeks, I was glad to see that both of our sewing centers were continuing on well. Our first sewing center will have its graduation in December, and a new class of women will begin in January. We have already had more than 20 women apply to be part of our next center. Many of those applying are parents of our sponsored students who realize if they had a skill they would have the ability to provide for their own families. We will also expand our second sewing center in January with an additional class added there.

Many of you may have seen my recent post referring to a young boy I had met in a hospital who was suffering terribly, but unable to receive treatment due to lack of funding. As he has the social healthcare here, the cost for his treatment was $1.65. As a result of meeting and helping this young boy, I was able to meet with doctors and other staff at this local hospital where we have begun a fund where people who are unable to receive medical treatment will be treated through this fund. The hospital was very grateful for our help, and I am grateful that we are able to be the help to alleviate suffering for many.

I wish to give a special word of gratitude for all who have contributed money for Bibles. We have been able to give almost 200 Bibles to individuals requesting them just in the past several weeks. A couple weeks ago, I had stopped in a store to make a purchase. As I went to pay, a worker in the store saw a Bible in my bag and requested it. When I gave it to her, she began shrieking with delight, causing a second worker to request a Bible. These two young girls fell on their knees, arms lifted heavenward, praising God, and then called to their friend to come see that they had Bibles. The friend requested and took the third and final Bible I had with me that day. I continue to see these girls frequently, and they remain thrilled with their Bibles. Thank you. Next week, I will be able to give Bibles to each adult member of a second church congregation where only a handful have Bibles of their own. Imagine the church growth that can come as a result of each member having a Bible to learn and study God for himself.

As a new month approaches, I continue to meet daily with persons desiring sponsorship or vocational training. In the month of December we have scheduled another Vacation Bible School, and a Sunday school training of various churches, graduation of our first Sewing Center, and Christmas projects for children.

Each time I write an update, I am reminded of the wonderful things God is doing here, and I am grateful to be a small part of this work. That said, in the past 2 months, I can tell you that Satan has been fighting on many levels working to defeat me, and the ongoing ministry. I appreciate your prayers for the power of the Holy Spirit here and that we would see God work in marvelous ways. 

May God bless each of you as you remain faithful to Him. Enjoy this season of Christmas.

With gratitude,

Laura Yockey

Sick of his Tricks

I’m sick.  In the depths of my being I ache, and I’m angry at how Satan is fooling the masses.

I’ve been asking God to increase my zeal to see souls brought to Him, that I would not be so focused on the temporal physical needs that I would lose the greater vision that each has an eternal soul that needs the Salvation of Jesus Christ and the fullness of a life lived for Him. Furthermore, I have begun praying for God to give me discernment to understand when someone is being used of Him and when they are simply empty of His spirit and used by Satan to distract from His truth.

Oh, my friend, in answer to my prayer, God has allowed me to become nauseatingly ill out of complete repulsion for some of Satan’s greatest tricks.

You see, when we see Evil in its most despicable expressions, we are easily repulsed at such heathenism. I think the devil would far rather come in beautiful disguise, in false mirroring of what is good and pure (II Cor 11:14).

Here, we don’t really have witchcraft practiced. It is certainly not practiced openly, and for the most part is looked on with disdain.  (This varies in surrounding countries as witchcraft is very prevalent still in many areas.) Most Rwandan citizens would proclaim to you that they are Christians. There are strong beliefs in God, and all-day prayer meetings are held weekly at most churches. Fasting is widely and frequently practiced. Church attendance is regular. Nearly all businesses are closed on Sundays.  At first glance it seems evangelical missions is hardly needed, rather we could learn much for them and their dedication to God. They have the Good News it seems. Everyone claims Christianity (Matt 23:27).

These claims of Christianity and religious displays can easily be misinterpreted not only by you and me, but by the very ones practicing them.

You see, I believe that being a “Christian” means more than being a good person and doing all of the above. I believe a “Christian” is bought by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, has accepted Him alone for salvation, desires to serve Him and grow in Him and deepen his relationship with Jesus Christ his Savior. I believe that being a Christian has to change me from the inside out. It isn’t about the outward displays of religion, but about my relationship as a child of God, that causes me to yearn to follow Him and walk in His ways. (I Cor 6:20).

Now allow me to explain what is making me downright disgusted. Satan isn’t displaying himself here in brazen heathenism. He has sneaked into the church, and has bewitched the multitudes (Gal 3:1). Repeatedly, I am seeing here in so very many churches, that pastors are completely misleading congregations. Whether they themselves are true believers in Christ or simply puppets used of Satan to promote a false gospel, I cannot say. I can tell you what I have observed and why it eats at me in the core of my being.

In so many pulpits across Rwanda, authentic Bible teaching has been replaced by opinion preaching, false prophesies, and hype that has nothing to do with sound Biblical teaching, the blood of Jesus, salvation, the Great Commission or furthering the cause of Christ (Matt 7:15).

Just to clarify what I’m talking about, let me give you a few examples:

The pastor of a prominent church here in the capital city proclaiming God has told him the continent of Africa will one day be one nation, live in prosperity, other nations will depend on Africa for wealth, “the United States of Africa’s first president will reign 4 years. He will be a believer.  One day all cell phones will be free.”

Yet he has not one Bible verse to back any of this up. But no one questions, because he is “God’s anointed.”

Some of what is preached here is prosperity gospel, such as “God is going to give you a new car. Your income is going to triple this year. Singles this is your year. God is going to bring someone into your life who will meet your every need within 6 months. The days of wondering where your next meal is coming from are over.” The teaching continues that if they have enough faith, all of these things will come to pass.

I sat in one service where a woman in the final stages of AIDS was made to stand and the preacher declared by the time we all came to church the next week, she would be healed and living in health for many years. It didn’t happen.  For reasons, I absolutely cannot understand, except that Satan has completed blinded their eyes from seeing truth, the people do not question. They don’t come to church the next week, and say, “But he said, God would heal her, and God didn’t.” I would have lost my faith long ago, if these things were preached to me and this is what I believed.  I would believe someone was a false prophet to prophesy to me healing, or that I would finally bare a child, or that I would drive a new car and none of it every happened.  Yet this happens week after week in so many churches. And the people continue to go.

Lastly, some of what is preached in churches is just nonsense.  Things that have no scriptural basis, have no connection with any spiritual qualities, and are simply what the speaker felt like proclaiming. Yet the congregation screams “Amen” and “Hallelujah” and such.  The preacher will repeat the same jargon many times, the congregation will shout louder, some will stand and scream. And it is so empty.

At times I have tried to kindly question the matter, “What do you think about what he is saying?” “Do you believe everything he is saying?”  They look at me in disbelief and do not answer (I John 41-5)

And this is what utterly vexes me: While all of this nonsensical rubbish fills listener’s ears each week, and congregations leave just as hollow and disillusioned as when they entered, guess what they are not hearing? While this false religious hype fills the pulpits, no one is teaching them that the blood of Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation. No one is teaching repentance from sin, and how the Bible tells us to walk in holiness, God’s instructions on how to live, how to be Christ-like, how to strengthen one’s relationship with Christ, to fulfill the great commission, to put on the full Armor of God, the need of  Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, or awareness of false teachings.

This matter has impressed upon my heart the greater need to get Bibles into the hands of the masses. You see, if one has no Bible of his own, he has no means to discern whether what he is being taught is Biblical; however; if he can read a Bible, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he can know the Truth (John 8:32).

My friend, pray with me, that the Holy Spirit will lead the hearts of men to truth (Luke 24:45). Pray that we will be enabled to spread Bibles throughout Rwanda. Pray that the Lord will open doors for me to be able to share Jesus.

 

Sponsorship FAQ

Sponsorship FAQ

For many who now have a sponsored child, you may have questions specific to your child and his/her information. I have tried to list some questions I presume may be frequently asked and provide answers for you.

Why does my child not have a birthday listed?
While dates, including birthdates, are extremely important here in America, most Africans give little attention to time including details such as dates. Birthdays are also not celebrated or recognized in any way for most. Most children do not know their birthdays, neither do their parents. Frequently even confirming the correct year of birth is difficult. For example a child may state he is 7 years old and born in 2009. Obviously one of these two statements is false. Furthermore, if there is documentation such as a birth certificate or other identification, the date was likely made up.

My child appears to be in a school uniform in the photo. If he was already in school, does he still need my help?
Yes! Your child needs you! Some students were sponsored to attend school in 2013 by Love Alive International, but were not matched with a specific sponsor. Others may have been admitted to school on the understanding that their fees would be paid at a later date; however, when the fees are unpaid, the child is removed from school. Finally, some students have come to us specifically with a specific need or situation warranting their need for help. Never doubt that your sponsored student needs you and is greatly blessed by your support.

Some of the students are young, but I also notice that many are older teens. Why do older students still need sponsorship?
Very young children are the first to find sponsors. They are adorable, innocent and helpless, and their need for help is easily understood. Sometimes it is not as easy to see that inside older students are the same children needing our help. They are still coming from rural villages where their families survive off of their family gardens, money for school fees is difficult to accrue, and this child still has no means of self-support. Education is still vital to her future and the potential of overcoming the cycle of poverty. One reason that it is vital to support older students is that they are so very close to the end of their secondary education. They have come too close to attaining that level of education to quit now. If a student is able to perform very well in lower secondary school, she can be offered a placement in a quality school for upper secondary. If a student is again able to excel in upper secondary school, the government often will award scholarships to such students.

My student is 15 and only in fifth grade, why? Does this mean he is unlikely to succeed?
While a student so much older than his grade level is almost unheard of in the USA, it is rather common in Rwanda. The reasons for this are various. Factors include poverty (inability to pay for school fees, uniform and supplies), family needs (children often work for the family fetching water, sticks for fire, cooking and washing for the family, tending the animals, or, in some cases, are sent to work for other families to provide income for the family), illness, or major changes in family systems (death of a parent, lack of food meaning a child is sent to live with another relative, thus leaving his school). All of these factors, prevalent throughout third-world countries, impact many students; thus it is not at all uncommon for children of widely-varied ages to be together in one classroom.

How can I contact my sponsored child?
You are welcome to email a message, family photos, and even request an update on your student at lovealive4africa@gmail.com.
Emailing provides a free way to communicate. There is no residential mail-delivery system in Rwanda, and at this time we do not have a specific post office for student sponsorship mail. I will personally deliver any emails and also see that your sponsored child communicates with you as well.

What exactly does my $35 sponsorship cover?
With the gift of your sponsorship, your sponsored student will be provided a uniform, school fees, and all necessary school supplies (usually consisting of various paper notebooks, pens, pencils and math tools). Occasionally, when a particular school’s fees are lower than budgeted, we are able to provide classroom resources such as a soccer ball, flashcards, classroom decorations or other materials that will enhance the learning experience of our students.

What else can I do for my sponsored student?
Please pray for your child. You will be considered a part of their family by them. If you send a photo, it will be hung on their wall. They will tell others about their American family who loves them. You give them the pride and joy of being cared about. If you ever have any questions about your sponsored student, you are always welcome to contact me at lovealive4africa@gmail.com, via the website lovealiveinternational.com or via our Facebook page Love Alive International.

The Flip Side of Sacrifice

Often when people think of missions they seem to equate the idea of sacrifice right along with it. While this can be true, I’ have personally always focused on the opportunity, adventure and potential in the mission God has given me.  I really cannot recall the great number of times others have lamented to me their pity for the things I live without. These things usually include ESPN, electrical appliances, fast food, hot water, and so the list goes.

I thought I should share some of the benefits of living in a third-world country with all of its “sacrifices,” randomly listed here.

While the thought of not owning a car is unfathomable to many, not having a vehicle means I don’t worry about the price of gas, I haven’t had a ticket in the time I’ve been in Africa, my mom doesn’t have to worry if I text and drive, I don’t worry about the insurance renewal bill coming in the mail or my tags expiring, and I get free exercise every day. No gym membership required.

Healthy, organic and all-natural foods are at my disposal. Sure, I live in a world without hamburgers, French fries, pizza, Oreos or ice-cream, but if you’ve done grocery shopping lately for your family you’d be excited about 50 cent pineapples, 15 cent avocados, and  10 cent bananas. Meat doesn’t get any fresher than picking your own live chicken or making your own selection of whole-cow.

Having no refrigerator, hot water heater, oven, microwave, air-conditioner or heater means a host of appliances that I don’t have to worry about repairing and replacing. It also means I don’t get frustrated with things that don’t work the way they’re supposed to, or technology that has to be reprogrammed. You’d be surprised what you don’t miss when it is not an option.

When the main concern of everyone around you is survival, no one has to worry about the latest fashion trends or “keeping up with the Joneses.”

In Africa, there are very few mirrors or scales. As a matter of fact, the only mirror in my home is a hand-held make-up mirror, and I haven’t been on a scale since I left the States. Any woman knows what a relief that is! There’s a certain freedom in not seeing your image reflected at you in every store, bathroom, bedroom etc. This means far less self-evaluation and deprication and more time to focus on the really important things. And, ladies, I haven’t seen a 3-way mirror since I landed in Africa. I think the benefit of that is self-explanatory.

So, the next time you start to pity the poor missionary without the zillion things you think you could not part with, remember the flip side. They get some pretty sweet benefits.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers!

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers!

I’m frequently asked about numbers. “How many people attended? How many people accepted Jesus? What is the total number of salvations you’ve seen?”
There’s really nothing wrong with numbers. I think it is part of our American culture to measure success in numbers. We like tangible things. We get satisfaction in facts of what is being accomplished. In the business world, performance is measured in numbers. The trend of finding security in numbers of attendance, conversions, memberships, baptisms and so on is also prevalent in the church. We judge the effectiveness of a pastor or a local church by their growth. Sometimes it even happens within the church that a pastor or leader is removed because there is not enough growth in tangible data.
I’ll be honest, I like numbers too. I’m a Type-A personality. I want to see accomplishment. I need to know something is happening to prove that my efforts are not in vain. That said, I’m trying courageously to let go of numbers when it comes to ministry-related functions. This is for many reasons. For one, when it comes to persons accepting Christ, this is difficult for me to answer. You see, I live in a culture in which conformity, peace-keeping and doing what makes someone else happy is expected. Therefore, if an invitation is given to accept Christ, nearly everyone present is going to join in and state they are accepting Christ. I could count them all and give a report that would sound full of “success and accomplishment,” while in reality, I would have no idea the hearts of the persons responding. I can honestly say, that after showing the JESUS film over 50 times (You know you needed a number!), thousands have responded in a prayer, but whether this prayer was truly an acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, repentance of sin and desire to be a Christ-follower I cannot say. For that reason, I’ve had to refrain from numbers. I don’t trust them.
Furthermore, when I look at the life of Christ, I don’t know that His ministry was based on numbers. While he sometimes taught to “Multitudes,” and we know he fed “Five-thousand men besides women and children;” we also know He was the Shepherd willing to go and search for the one lost sheep, to go to a home to raise one little girl from the dead, to converse with one woman at the well, and spend the majority of His time investing in 12 guys. None of the latter activities would have helped his performance ratings on a numbers report.
Moreover, we serve a God who is far more concerned with the heart quality of man than quantity within church walls. Our God is not judging his servants based on the persons who show up on Anniversary Sunday, by the attendance at a conference, or by who has the biggest congregation. He never said, “Whoever gathers the biggest crowd wins.” Throughout the Bible “success” is measured not by results seen, but by the service given, by the fruit of the spirit displayed, by the measure of steadfast devotion, by the evident working of the Holy Spirit and by the glory given to the Father. I often wonder if He is not most glorified by the unknown humble ones who are faithful to the few He has called them to regardless of the statistics.
So, despite my instinct to count the attendance of children in Sunday School, of the audience when I am speaking, of numbers professing Christ, I intentionally refuse to count. While contrary to my desire for gratification of outcome, refusing to look at numbers allows me to place the entire outcome in His hands, to rely on the Holy Spirit’s working and to know that what God asks of me is my heart. He asks for my service and my talents. He never asked me to graph chart the number of results. He told me to follow Him.
I’ve come to the conclusion that He is in charge. If I simply follow what He has commanded and do my part, He can take care of the rest. God never instructed me to “Go into all the world and get results.” He asked me to go and to tell; He has the power to handle results.