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

 

ACTS Ministry Pastor Profile: Pastor Patrick, Agape Church, Rugende Rwanda

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Pastor Patrick’s Personal Testimony:

I received Jesus as my Savior at the age nine, and from then I continued to attend church services. However, at the age of fifteen, I was left the only living member of our family of five, the rest of my two older brothers and my parents having died. I started to be discouraged. Later on I came to my senses and recognized that whatever case it may be, God is good all the time. So i started going to church again, and in 2002 I was sent to Kenya to attend Bible school. There I met men of God who heard my testimony, prayed for me, and I really found deliverance. From the Bible School I served the Lord with all my heart until I committed myself to be ordained as a Pastor in 2017. I am leading the local church branch of AGAPE AEPC in Rugende not far from the capital city of Kigali. This local church came into existence after we saw that most of the people living in this area were vulnerable, some are orphans, widows, HIV/AIDS victims to mention but a few and according to my calling, I am very much concerned with such kind of people. I believe I have an experience so my strong desire is to see such people being delivered through the Word of God. I started work there while I was still an associate pastor, but now I am full pastor and God is using me.

Introduction to AEPC-Rugende

Agape AEPC- Rugende is a local church which began on 5th September 2014 in Nyakariro sector, Rwamagana district, Eastern Province, Rwanda. Its head quarter is in Kanombe, Kigali-Rwanda. This church is responsible for carrying the message of purpose, potential and leadership to the nations.

Vision

Our vision is to declare, effectively communicate, and apply the Biblical message of the good news of the kingdom of God in its present and future dispensation to our society with the views to impact the present and future generation with the ministry of reconciliation to our creator God.

It is a vision of AEPC-Rugende to establish a network of ministries, agencies, projects and opportunities to provide for the declaration, and effective communication of the good news of the kingdom of God and the restoration, development, training and release of Christian leaders and worshippers to impact every sphere of human existence.

Mission

The mission of AEPC-Rugende is to exalt Jesus Christ as Lord, obey his Word, and encourage, equip each believer for the work of ministry. We are called to build the church from house to house, city to city, nation to nation through small groups. This local church is built through prayers, reaching the lost and making disciples. Our mission includes reaching adults, youth and children for Christ.

Purpose

The purpose of AEPC-Rugende is to provide for the recruiting, restoration, development, training and release of mature, intelligent, refined, skillful, principled, spirit filled, free individuals within Rwanda to take their rightful place of excellence and responsibilities in their communities and generation through embracing a personal relationship with God the father through redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ and application of biblical principles of the kingdom of God.

Prayer needs

  • Church building
  • Sound equipment
  • Materials and Bibles
  • Pastors’ support
  • God’s provision for children and widows who are homeless in Rwanda
  • Care for orphans
  • Peace of God to prevail in every nation
  • Students financing

Join us in destiny

I strongly believe that AEPC-Rugende is raised by God to provide millions of effective people like you, with opportunity to impact their generation and unborn generation with the life changing good news of the kingdom of God. You are most welcome as you join us on this great adventure into destiny as we fulfill God’s appointed mandate for us.

Support

AEPC-Rugende is totally dependent on God to anoint, lead, protect and provide for all that it needs. All support that is received whether it is prayers, financial help or a practical commitment is extremely valued. You are welcome to support the work of God.

The joy of serving God

As co-workers with Christ, we are not serving alone. God has been very careful to see that we continue serving together with him. The field is ripe but the laborers are still few. Jesus said when we serve through his Word; He comes and confirms it with signs and wonders. When the fruits are ripe, very soon we shall stand before Him and the work we did for Him shall follow us. It is our responsibility as believers to find a position to serve Him.

Witnessing about his kingdom and his love is a basic responsibility for every believer. People will never hear about Him unless there is some body to tell them. The result of our total commitment in serving Him is joy now and eternally. He is ready to use you, just surrender yourself to Him and you will really enjoy serving with Him.

Pastor Patrick in Rugende, Rwanda

If you would like more information or photos of Pastor Patrick’s church in Rugende, Rwanda, Please contact us at lovealive4africa@gmail.com

The Scarlet Cord

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Let me tell you about the Scarlet Cord!

We have established our vocational training center for women this year in Kagugu, Rwanda. This area is particularly known for women in the sex trade. The objective of our center this year is to provide a place for counseling, Bible teaching, healing, friendship and community support for these women. Not only will they be learning to sew, in order to have a fair trade by which to improve the lives of them and their children, but they will be learning to work through the traumas and difficulties of their pasts which have led them into prostitution as a way of survival.

“She tied the Scarlet Cord to the window.” Joshua 2:22

The name The Scarlet Cord, of course, comes from the Bible story of Rahab. Rahab did not know the one true God, She also was a sex trade worker. Yet her scarlet cord was a symbol of her faith. She had seen the power of God, and was keen enough to fear Him and put her faith in His power to save her and her family. This cord represents that faith.

Like Rahab, many of the women joining our center, do not know God; they have not seen His power in their lives; they have not encountered the salvation He so freely offers. Yet, in their willingness to come to our center, they too hang their scarlet cord in the window, with the smallest bit of faith and hope.

No doubt these women have faced unbelievable hardship in their lives, and have reached a place of moral destitution and shame in society. At Love Alive, we are honored to be able to wrap arms of love around these women, and show them the hope found in Jesus. I dream of them finding forgiveness, restoration, and their true beauty in Jesus Christ, and watching them walk in dignity as daughters of the King.

I beg you to join us in prayer for each of these women. Most of them have not even an elementary education. A dozen can neither read nor write. The majority have no living parents. None have husbands. Almost all have children for whom they want to provide a better situation in life.

We are blessed to have a skilled seamstress as our teacher who loves each student as her own child, and pours guidance and counsel into them daily. She begins each day in a time of prayer and Bible reading. I will be heavily involved in Bible teaching, individual and group therapy, and assisting these women in their individual needs physically and materially as they see change in their lives.

The Scarlet Cord is woven in threads of hope and faith that each of these women can see their lives drastically changed through Christ. We need the Holy Spirit’s involvement and your intercession on their behalves. If you wish to assist one of these women or this center financially, you may do so at the link below.

https://lovealiveinternational.com/donate/sewing-machines/

Spring Update

Spring Update

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                                     5/4/2017

Happy Spring! I trust you are all doing well. I’d like to share a brief update on Love Alive ministries in Rwanda.

Quick Trip: The last week in March, I was able to fly to the USA to take part in a mission-emphasis week at my home church in Tennessee. During the time I was home, I was able to visit area churches and mission partners as well as family and friends. This was certainly a refreshing time for me and beneficial for the ministry. Now back in Rwanda, our ministries continue to grow and expand.

New Ministry: Our most recent ministry project is one that I am excited to share with you. This year, our women’s vocational training center has been strategically positioned in an area known for sexual exploitation, namely prostitution. I met with many women in the sex trade months ago, and began a conversation with them about the potential to see their lives changed through Jesus Christ, and their willingness to give up their current form of living to pursue an honorable vocation. Since then, these women have pursued us, asking why we have delayed to begin the program. My number one reason for the delay was that I was not about to embark on this endeavor alone. I know full well that the Holy Spirit will have to be very present and active for real change to come about. Last week, we held our registration with nearly 100 women applying. We plan to officially open “The Scarlet Cord,” on May 15. This will be a vocational training center as well as a counseling center, and center for Bible teaching and mentoring. I have moved my office into the center to be there on a constant basis. Please bathe this ministry in prayer. I have been researching what other similar ministries world-wide have found effective, various counseling strategies and success stories from around the globe, and I’m relying heavily on my own therapeutic counseling background; however, I do not underestimate the need for the power of Christ in this center and in the life of each participant. There are so many ways that I can already share with you that we are seeing the powers of darkness work against this ministry, but we hold fast to the knowledge that these women can find true hope and change in Jesus.

Church Partnerships: As we support local churches, it is exciting to watch them grow. One particular pastor Damour, whom God saved from a 19-year alcohol addiction, changed him and led him to start his first church in his own hometown several years ago, is being greatly used of God. When I met Pastor Damour 3 years ago, his church was in need of building a larger facility to house their congregation, and their current facility was literally leaning over, soon to fall down. Since that time, We have seen that congregation grow largely, build the facility they were praying for and start 2 new church plants. He is a true soul-winner and is efficient not only in seeing people brought to Christ, but seeing them disciple, baptized, and become active members of their congregations.

Baby Delisia: I would like to ask for prayer for this precious little girl. Delisia is the 2-month-old daughter of one of our sewing center graduates. She has been hospitalized for 6 weeks due to a congenital heart issue. We are doing what we can to provide for her care; however, we learned this week, that there is no heart surgeon in this country. Her soonest opportunity for a surgery is if she can survive until October when she can be one of many on a waiting list for surgery by visiting foreign doctors. Her case is a reminder of how much quality physicians and nurses of all types are greatly needed here, and how greatly we must rely on our Great Healer.

I thank you so much for caring enough to read this letter, for praying for this ministry, and for your encouragement and support.

With Gratitude,

Laura Y.

In the nursery –The Days I Don’t Talk About

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“Leave it! Just let her die!”

I jumped up off of the bench, Bella still cradled tightly in my arms. “No, no, you can’t say that!” I told the new mother who had spoken these words.

Her little girl was born the day before weighing 800 grams (1 lb. 13 oz.), and she was still fighting for life. I had never once seen the mother come near her child. Upon the hospital’s suggestion that her daughter be transferred to another hospital for better care and a greater potential for survival, the mother had responded in utter despair, willing her child to just die. This explained why the mother would not come near her child. She was already resigned that the child would die, and was preventing herself from further anguish by refusing to even hope for her child’s survival.

I held out Bella to the mother. “Look at her,” I said, “She’s beautiful, strong and healthy, but she was born as small as your own baby, in fact, within a few days after birth, she weighed only 700 grams (1 lb. 9 oz.), but she grew. Your baby can grow. God can take care of her, please believe in that.” Along with a nurse, I tried to convince the mother that she had to hope and do the best she could for her child. I walked over to her baby’s isolette, and opened the door. Your baby needs your touch, needs your love, the sound of your voice, the smell of your skin. You can help your baby.”

“Leave me alone and leave it to God to decide,” the mother replied, and walked out the door, leaving me with her child’s hand wrapped around my finger.

It’s hard to comprehend, but in a world of endless poverty and survival. This mother was refusing better care, because she knew she could not afford it, and rather than take a chance that the hospital would work to help her, she gave up. She simply assumed no care would be provided when she couldn’t pay for treatment; and she would rather God just take her child than have to deal with the stress.

I found her later in the hallway, sitting alone, and I tried again to console her and encourage her. When she told me money was the problem, I again tried to tell her to believe there could be a way. Though I would not and did not tell her, my thought was, that I or Love Alive would ensure the baby’s treatment was taken care of; however, once again, the mother told me bitterly, “If God can do all things, then let Him, and leave it be.”

I wish I could be shocked at this attitude. I wish I could say, I was calling the local Children’s Services Hotline to inform them that this baby was in danger of neglect, but I’ve seen too much in the neonatal unit of my local hospital in the past months.

You see, in the months of daily visits, holding sweet Bella, I’ve seen a lot, I’ve heard a lot. Sometimes I don’t know if God brought Bella into my world for me to love Bella, or to bless my life for this time with Bella, or to bring me to a new window, to gaze through, and see a whole new demographic desperate for love, nurture, counseling, medical advancements, knowledge, and care.

5.

Five.

F-i-v-e babies died that day.

There were 8 infants fighting for life when we started the day, and by nightfall, there were only 2 very worried mothers (alongside me) wondering how their own babies had made it through the day, and if they could survive the next.

Our hospital is not large. Our community is semi-rural, full of dirt-roads, open-air markets, villagers who ride taxi-bicycles, and farm other people’s fields to make a living. The maximum capacity of our hospital is 90 people, so you can understand that the number of babies represented here is large for a small hospital, and speaks nothing of what is happening in more populated hospitals in this country.

I walked into Bella’s room, and there was a dead baby lying on the counter. A nurse looked at me and said flatly. “I think its dead.” The oxygen tank was still feeding oxygen into the little body, but I placed my hand on the baby’s chest, held his tiny hand, and stroked his cheek. Cold. Still. Lifeless. Gone.

“Does the mother know?” I asked. No, she didn’t. They would tell her soon. “But she’s expecting it,” the nurse shrugged.

I looked around the room, “Where is Baby Costance?”

“She died this morning.”

I had felt that death. Day after day, I would walk by that little one’s crib and stroke her cheek, hold her little hand and sing to her as I sang to Bella. I never once saw the mother in the two weeks the baby was alive.

“That’s because, she was preparing for her baby to die. We told her not to get attached, because the baby might not make it; that’s why she never came in and held her,” the nurse responded to my contemplations.

Talk about a cultural shift, from my own culture where every potential medical advancement is available, and when no cure is known parents and doctors and nurses fight for the best trials and any possible treatment to extend life and find health, where parents cling to every second with their baby, inform friends and even strangers through blogs and internet pages, and get national prayer chains going with every hope for the miraculous. Yet here, where medical treatments are limited, and death is as expected as life, the very opposite occurs. Rather than hope and risk the wound, stay away from the child, and wait and see what the potential for survival is.

I couldn’t help but think about neonatal development and the power of the mother child bond, the need for nurture, for physical closeness, for human interaction, and yet, my ideologies were continents away from my actual surroundings.

I knew, rather thought I knew, who the third deceased infant was.

“The twin, he’s gone too? ” I asked.

I knew each baby well, often answering for doctors who came in before the nurses could look in their charts to answer dates the baby was born or who the mother was. It was not hard to look around the room and notice which crib yesterday held a baby and now lay empty.

“Wow! He’s still alive?” The doctor had laughed as he exclaimed the day before upon entering the nursery and seeing the tiny twin still breathing.

“Why would you say that?” I asked? Shouldn’t we keep every hope of life?

“Eh, the other twin died at birth yesterday, this one will surely die now too; it’s just a matter of time,” he responded.

I watched the monitors flashing warning signs, “Warning, temperature dangerously low!” “Attention: heart beat abnormal.” “Low oxygen.”

Aside from the oxygen mask, the other warnings were unheeded. Whether we have no capabilities to address the problems being shown on the screen, I do not know. I only know that as the warning lights and beeps kept flashing, the doctor and nurses continued about their work and charting. The heart line going flatter.

“The twin? Yes, him too, but we didn’t count that one. We knew he would die, so that didn’t count”

Make that 4 babies today then.

By the end of that night, one more of Bella’s nursery fellows died, leaving the nursery quiet with three babies clinging to life, and leaving me with no false-expectations that in this country a baby should be expected to survive.

I’ve inquired as to why in such a small community, we should have so many babies born with birth defects, malformations, severe prematurity, and poor heart and lung development. The local physicians attribute the problems to four specific causes. 1. Poor nutrition. 2. Lack of prenatal care and awareness. 3. Attempted self-induced abortions via poison, and 4. “traditional medicines,” a term that encompasses traditional roots, herbs and concoctions passed down through ancestry and including witchcraft. Often the treatments given to expecting mothers are actually harmful to the developing baby rather than helpful, yet people are more prone to believe what families and locals advise them rather than what is medically or scientifically proven.

I don’t really have answers. I don’t have solutions. I don’t have even a solution. This is why the days like these well up in my heart and seep out in my frustrations and become my accepted realities of all I am powerless to change.

But tomorrow, I’ll wake up, and when the daily activities the “musts” that need to be done are finished, I’ll walk to the hospital, open the little isolette, and cradle that beautiful little miracle in my arms, and breathe life, and songs and love and prayers for blessings, angels and God’s favor on her, all the while watching, and when I can, I’ll provide diapers, soap and lotion for another baby whose mother has no ability to obtain such simple necessities, I’ll show a mother how to use a disposable diaper, share some of Bella’s clothes with another preemie mom whose baby has been naked, and tell another mother how important It is to hold her baby and talk to him.

Maybe, just maybe a little sun shines through.

Women in our Sewing Centers: Their Stories.

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Marie: widowed with 2 children, third grade education.

Fabiola: Single, 20 years old, 5 siblings, sixth grade education.

Jeannette: mother of 4 children, abandoned by her husband, sixth grade education.

Joyce: married, two children, husband seeks day-to-day work, she has a first grade education.

Gloriosa: Mother of 5 children, husband has difficulty finding work due to handicap. She has a third grade education.

Sephora: One child, no husband, no parents, no siblings, no support systems, fifth grade education.

Florence: Married mother of three, disabled from a severe accident, third grade education.

The list of women with mirrored socio-economic situations continues for each of the sixty students currently enrolled in Love Alive International’s sewing centers.

Of our 60 students this 2015 school year, none ever had the opportunity to complete high school. The strong majority never advanced past elementary school, with some only having 1 or 2 years of education, and one never having been able to attend school at all.

While Rwanda continues to make steady progress in recovery post-genocide, and continues to be seen as a leading country in African development, it also remains among the poorest countries in the world.

The per capita income is still under $1 per day, while those deep in rural villages see far less money than that. It is often hard to fathom their survival. Three of our students are physically handicapped making their ability to find work such as farming and hard labor far more difficult, as few have interest in hiring them for the day.

As these ladies educate themselves in our sewing center, their challenges for survival also continue. Understanding their ongoing struggles, this year, we began a “helps,” project specifically for the neediest women in our program. We provide monthly groceries and also pay housing for several of these women so that they will not have to drop out of the program and thereby give up their opportunity and hope for advancement in life.

I recently sat down with each of the women in one center simply to know them more personally, and also to screen who might be most in need of assistance to continue in the program. I asked one of our students if her children were eating each day.

She looked aside and replied, “When my husband is able to find work, he brings money home for food.”

I then asked, “Are there days you have nothing to feed our children?”

“Yes, often.” She replied. “When we have money, we eat one meal per day. Sometimes only 3 days per week.”

Most of the women in our centers work very hard during the half of day they are not studying. I often see them digging fields, cultivating, and harvesting. For a long day of hoeing fields, the pay is $1. With that dollar, they do their best to provide that day’s food for their children, usually a meal of porridge and beans. When sharing her thanks, one of our students, Petronia, told me, “I’m so happy, when I get a little work, I can even buy soap for my children to bathe.” Soap is a luxury she is thankful for.

I don’t share these stories to garner pity, nor to inflict guilt, but simply to share the realities of the level of need of those we are assisting, and to assure those of you who have a part in this of the impact you have in blessing these lives.

As our first class of 9 students graduated 4 months ago, we are now seeing the results of this program. Several of the women are working out of their homes with neighbors and friends bringing work to them, others have found work in the markets or in shops with other seamstresses. I see them from time to time in town, and I see them proudly wearing clothing they have made themselves, I see the brightness in their eyes, and I listen to their excitement in having a job and having an opportunity to provide for their children. I’m already looking forward to the success stories of our next graduating class of 13 students this July. These students already have plans for forming a sewing shop together, selling their wares in local markets and have already been to local schools to advertise their ability to sew the school uniforms for all students next school year.

Thank you for being a part of blessing each of these women with skills, with hope, and with the Love of Christ.

Rwanda News, July 2014

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Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

 Dear Friends,

We’ve been in a whirlwind of activity here, and I’d like to share with you a few highlights.

Sunday School Training

Last week, Love Alive hosted a 2-day seminar training church leaders on how to organize teach children’s Sunday school programs. Emphasis was made on the importance of children in the Bible, learning styles of children, effective teaching so that children enjoy learning the Bible and desire to know more. We have also established a small curriculum library so that local churches can come borrow flannel graph and teaching materials to engage the children. We had 26 churches participate in this event. In follow-up surveys, they stated how overjoyed they were at this training, how greatly they had benefited, and were greatly excited to go back and teach their children with their new ideas and resources.  To give you a small understanding of the lack of materials and resources many have here, of all of the participants attending, over half did not own their own Bible. Imagine having the desire to instill in children the Word of God, yet not even having your own copy to study and learn more. Due to gifts sent to purchase Bibles in the local language, we were able to furnish every teacher with a Bible in addition to Bible story books and other necessary teaching materials.

Sewing Center #2

Yesterday, we opened our second women’s sewing center in a rural village (no electricity or water and all mud buildings). Twenty students are now enthusiastically studying. These women told me, “We prayed to God for help, but did not know how God could improve our state, but He has heard us and blessed us through you.”  Nearly one year ago, Crosspoint Church in Georgia donated a sewing machine for a lady named Consore, who was needing a means of earning income that was both upright and legal. Little did that church or I know what God had in store. Consore is now teaching this new women’s sewing center!

You may wonder how projects such as sewing centers are “missional,” or how they fulfill the work of Christ’s church. I believe the Bible clearly tells us that we are to love no-strings-attached, and that to effectively live a Christ-like life, we often need to show compassion simply because it is part of who Christ is. The sewing centers were designed simply to help families in poverty have a means of support; however, it has been amazing to see God work through simple love. You see, of the dozen ladies in our first sewing center, 5 women have now come and joined the local church affiliated with this center.  The formerly alcoholic and abusive husband of one began coming to church with his wife. Two weeks ago, he accepted Christ as his personal Savior.

Bibles

Last month, due to funds sent to purchase Bibles, I was able to purchase 100 Bibles.  I use these Bibles to give upon request to persons who have no Bible.  I have only a few Bibles left, as so many persons request them. A few weeks ago, I gave a local shop boy a Bible. Seeing his Bible, the co-worker requested one. A week or so later, I returned to bring her a Bible, taking a 5-year-old girl with me. When the young girl saw that I gave this lady a Bible, she said, “My mom needs a Bible.” Her mom is one of our sewing students, so when I gave her a Bible, I inquired as to whether our other students had a Bible. Nine of 10 women had no Bible. Once these ladies all had Bibles, word quickly spread that I had Bibles available to persons who had no Bible. Several of our goat recipients have now come and received a Bible as well as our music leaders and choir members, and the Sunday school training participants. These Christians light up when they finally have their own copy of God’s word.  What a privilege to help in this way.

 

Wrap-up

In three weeks, I will be returning to the USA for a few weeks for my sister’s wedding. During this time, I’m looking forward to seeing many of you and updating you on how God is using you here in Rwanda. Before I come home, Love Alive will host a 3-day Children’s Bible school in the same rural village as our latest sewing center, we will also host a showing of the Jesus Film there.  With thanks to those who have donated funds for chickens and to the children of Poplar Grove in Cookeville, TN, we will be purchasing 100 laying chickens to improve the nutrition of elementary students in another impoverished village.

 

Thank you for your prayers and all you do to share Christ’s love here in Rwanda.  God bless you abundantly!

 For His glory,

Laura 

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Eyes to See

Eyes to See

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” St. Augustine
She was one in a mass several hundred children that turned up for Bible school. I noticed her, in fact, I hugged her, patted her head and talked to her, but I didn’t really stop to see her. Sometimes the needs and want in the communities I engage in become a haze. It becomes easy to shade my eyes, and narrow my focus in order not to become completely lost in the desperation.
My sister did see little Diane, really stopped to see her. As the little girl sat on her lap and clung to her during Bible club, my sister pondered her need, saw her “misery and want,” heard her sorrow, and reacted with compassion.
“I wish there was some way to help her,” Julie told me.
“Sure,” I replied; “but I just don’t think it’s feasible. There is too much effort and follow-up involved, and chances are it could all be of no use.” I listed off many reasons, including village setting with lack of proper hygiene and little understanding of the ongoing treatment necessitated, a parent who may not be able to maintain care, and the possibility that after much time, money and effort, it may be to no avail.
Vivacious, spirited and feisty, 4-year-old Diane had a severe strabismus of her eyes. Some may refer to her as “cross-eyed.” In her case, Diane’s eyes were severely out of alignment, causing this irregularity to be the most poignant thing one noticed about her at first glance. Having had some experience with this condition in other children prior, I knew that often years of eye patches, glasses, drops, repeated trips to doctors, and possible surgeries often ensued, yet sometimes bearing little improvement. It seemed like too much of a mess to get involved with. I chose to catalog her need as one of the millions of things I cannot change.
My sister didn’t say anything more about it, but that Sunday Diane spotted Julie in church and jumped up into her lap where she clung tightly to her. I snapped a photo of the two of them, and Julie kept that photo with her, still seeing Diane’s whole being with compassion.
A few weeks later, I moved to a new neighborhood. Much to my pleasant surprise, Diane lives in my locality. She spotted me one day and came running fiercely, barreling into me full-force with a strong hug.
I later mentioned to Julie that I had again seen Diane. Again Julie wished there was something that could be done. I agreed to meet with Diane’s mom and offer to take Diane for an initial appointment only, just to see if there was any possibility of helping her. Diane’s mother agreed and soon we were visiting doctors, receiving positive news and scheduling Diane’s surgery to correct her vision and appearance.
Diane is fortunate in that in her type of strabismus both of her eyes still see, they simply alternate which eye does the looking. Because both eyes were active, there was no need for years of patches and corrective lenses, but a corrective surgery could be scheduled at any time.
Three months ago, Diane had her surgery and has recovered remarkably well. Doctors state that as she continues to mature, her eyes will fully correct by adulthood.
Diane comes to visit me several times a week. The first thing she always wants is to see Julie, meaning via Skype or simply reviewing all of her Facebook videos and pictures. Every time I see Diane, I am reminded what a difference love can make. When we take the time to stop and truly see the people, the human souls around us and choose compassion, lives are changed. When I see Diane, I see how much confidence she has gained, how loved she feels. How proud she is to have a friend far away who sees her and loves her. Diane recently told me, “Julie loves me. You love me. My mom loves me. Everybody loves me!” This is not the voice of the same little girl, scorned and ridiculed and turned away from by peers and adults alike. This is a little girl who has felt and known love and it has changed her world.
Lord, give us eyes to see and the compassion to make a difference in Jesus’ name.
He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he gives of his bread to the poor. Proverbs 22:9

***Diane’s mom confided to me that since Diane’s infancy, it has been her prayer that God could heal her daughter’s eyes, though she never even had the money to take her to a doctor. One person’s choice to see the needs of another became an answered prayer from a mother’s heart. ***

So, what exactly is Love Alive?

So, what exactly is Love Alive?

I thought it might be time to explain.
I’ve received checks written to Love the Life, Love is Life & Love of Life. We received tax documents addressed to Love Alice (surely to goodness it was a typo).
Most recently a man commented to me. I like that you emphasize Love Alive. It is better for people to love while they are alive. Dead people cannot love. Had he not been fully serious, it may have been mistaken for stale humor.
That’s when I realized maybe this name makes sense only to me. While our website explains clearly the meaning of the name, let’s be honest. Who has time for that?
When I first began envisioning starting a non-profit, I thought of so many names. Most were already taken. So much for originality. I tried putting together numbers of Bible references. They had no ring. I tried taking words from inspiration, Bible verses, even meaningful words from the local language. Either they didn’t make sense, were impossible to pronounce, or again, were already taken.
As I thought about what I really wanted as the foundational purpose for this ministry, I knew I wanted it to be a way to make Christ’s love known to others. I’ve seen enough “love” that shakes its head in pity, then changes the channel, or clicks the browser to a happier story. We have experienced too much “love” that says, “Oh, I just wish there was something I could do,” with our hands contentedly stuffed into our own pockets as we return to our own personal matters.
I wanted to people to have a way to demonstrate love in a way that would show that the love of Christ is real, it touches lives, it changes the way we live.
Hence after weeding through various groups and songs already taken by similar thoughts, I arrived at Love Alive.
And wouldn’t you know Love Alive is a song by a group called Heart. It is a rock band in Ohio; it is a marriage and family program in New York. After that I quit looking at the thousands of matches on Google. Now, if you Google Love Alive International you will find a small faith-based non-profit working in Rwanda to demonstrate Christ’s love.