- Johnny Tuyishimire
Discipling Nations: One Person, One Household, One Village at a Time
Knowing our passion for ministry, TRN offered to take us [Francine and me] both as translators in one of their mission trips in the village. This trip changed our life. Before this trip, we knew that God was calling us to ministry, but we were yet to know where or how we can be involved. Arriving in the village to work with the team from the USA in evangelism, God opened our eyes to the need for discipleship workers in those communities. On our way back, we couldn’t stop from daydreaming about the difference it would make if the people we had reached that day were effectively discipled and Christian leaders were raised among them to repeat the process in other villages.
There was not much we could do about our dream, apart from praying that one day God will make a way. Fortunately, sometime later we met the Koellings to debrief about the mission trip. We shared our dream and learned that there will be another mission trip of the same format in four months. Another mission trip meant an opportunity to see our dream come true. It was a chance to disciple our fellow Rwandans who wouldn’t have that chance otherwise. We started thinking together about ways to make the outreach more effective culturally and to establish an effective follow up ministry.
Four months later, the follow up ministry started. On top of the joy of serving together as a family was added the adventure of ministering in a different subculture. It is in a village while both of us were born and grew up in the city. The majority of the people we were reaching have not finished primary school and can only speak Kinyarwanda while both of us are college graduates and a large part of our discipleship training has been in English. It was, in its own way, a cross-cultural experience for both of us. Luckily, the lessons we had learned from the Koellings about cross-cultural ministries were still fresh in our hearts. Therefore, through commitment, humility and meticulousness we managed to penetrate the subculture and made friendships that are still flourishing until today. By God’s grace we have even seen some conversions and Christian leaders are now being trained. Praise God, through TRN the dream is becoming true.
Three days after the outreach we went back to Kayumbu for follow up. It takes two hours to get there by public transport. When we first arrived the people were surprised to see that we kept our promise and came back. They welcomed us in their homes. We shared the Gospel and some encouragement. However the excitement did not last for long. On our second visit they asked if we have plans to plant a “Bazungu church” (meaning a white people funded church where they give material support). We responded with a resounding No. And, we soon realized that many of the people on our list had not said yes to the Gospel but to the hope to receive some kind of material help in the future. When they realized there is no material support on the way, they simply left. However, some people still wanted us to come back even if we would never give any material help. One old lady in her sixties, Mukantabana, said “Me I don’t care if you are giving things or not. Just come back and teach me the word of God. When you teach it makes better sense than all I have heard before. However, you should know that I am not joining any new church. I have my local church and I have been attending for a long time. I cannot leave my church. Just come and teach me the word of God. You are always welcome to my home.”
Their leaving reduced the number of people, but the work was intensified. The people who continued with us were more open and willing to learn. As the Gospel shed more light in their lives, they started sharing their stories in a deeper way and we began tackling some life changing questions. One day we discussed about what they expect from God. While some were expecting some kind of miracle by which they would receive a lot of money and buy a house or piece of land and others expecting to get a loving husband some day, Claudine’s expectations were different. Claudine is a mother of five children and her husband left her for another woman taking all their belongings and leaving her in an empty house. Reacting to her neighbours’ expectations she said “all of those things you can have them and still feel empty and unsatisfied. Beside you can never be sure whether those things will last.” Building on Claudine’s reaction we challenged their expectations and shared the Gospel redirecting their focus on things that last instead the temporary ones. One of the ladies was so offended by our teachings and left before we could finish the discussion. However, after the discussion Claudine and two of her neighbours, Cecille and Emmanuel, asked if we can come back again next time to tell them more about this.
The following week, we found Claudine and her neighbours waiting for us. We shared from John 1 and when we reached verse 12, they were surprised to know that simply by believing in Jesus one can become a child of God. After the explanation, Claudine raised her hand and asked “So, what does it take for God to hear my prayers then?” We answered that if you believe in Jesus you become a child of God. Then we asked her What it would take for her to hear her child’s cry. “Wait a minute” she replied, “you mean, if I believe in Jesus, I don’t have to go to the mountain for God to hear my prayers?. God can hear me as I hear my child when he cries?” We responded with a resounding Yes and you could see joy in her eyes. That day, when we took time to pray, she bursted in tears of joy knowing that God can hear her anytime now that she is his child. It was the begining of a new era for Claudine and her neighbours.
The following week, she had shared the good news with two of her friends Floride and Jacqueline. They both received Jesus as their Lord and Savior in our Bible study meetings. From that day, Claudine has been hosting an adult Bible study in her living room every week. Later on, we decided also to start children Bible teachings with her children who also invited their neighbours. Currently, it is a vibrant ministry that brings together about 5 adults and more than 15 children to consistently study the word of God. And, Claudine has shown some leadership inviting new people to the Bible study and following up on them after the Bible study!