Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The dictionary defines a hero as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
Our world clamors for heroes. We have a strange fascination with those who do the extra-ordinary. Grocery stores check-out counters are filled with magazines that tell us the stories of celebrities. Maybe they just scratch a hunger for a life substance beyond food. Political columnists banter between seeing political leaders as either a contemporary messiah or demon. The sports industry thrives on our hunger for heroes. Yet heroes require more substance than physical prowess.

A few of us discovered far too late that we were surrounded by heroes who preferred to be ordinary. Church may have had an old man who faithfully did ordinary tasks. Only late in life did we discover his untold stories of heroism in a war he preferred to forget.

Missionaries are hero makers. Our business is to tell stories. At our best we tell stories of a carpenter turned itinerant preacher whose resurrection 2,000 years ago changed the world. As the stories continue we tell stories of our carpenter’s followers who spoke with conviction, served with compassion, suffered with dignity, and blessed following generations with their hero’s vision.
The marketing game we participate in encourages us to make the ordinary extra-ordinary. Sometimes at our worst moments of just shameless promotion we turn either ourselves or those gathered in faith with us into heroes when the season of accounting for the substance of one’s life has yet to arrive.

For the last 2 weeks I have been moving to a new office. I’ve changed offices 8 times in the last 4 years to try to be where it appeared God most needed me. It’s been exhausting. However, I think I’m finally settling into the long-term role and place where I may most show the Lord’s honor.

As I’ve unpacked I found an old prayer journal from 2006. I don’t often journal my prayers. However, in seasons of desperation I do journal. Finding an old journal has convicted me that I labor with and for a true hero. He is Yahweh God, Sovereign Lord, Creator of the Universe, Redeemer of Humanity, our Provider, our Protector, and our Friend.

Heaven forgive me for making men heroes who have yet to be held to account for the substance of their lives.

Dave, Ruth, & Sophia with Aloysius Iga, Isaac Sanyu, Andrew Lwere, & Joy Kifuku
In early 2006 our family had spent 6 months in Rwanda. We came to Rwanda in weakness. God had removed from us all that we held as comfortable. Our years in Uganda had changed us into people who were no longer compatible with our past. We had a dream to church plant among Rwanda’s thought leaders. Our dream left us isolated from our past community. Yet, we were struggling to even secure the most basic government documents. Rwanda was very expensive. Our kids were struggling and we saw no school option for them. A few friends and we decided to educate our children in a couple garages with parents as teachers. We dreamed of starting a school. All we had was our Hero.

On January 6, 2006 I wrote, “Thank you for the many friends you are bringing to us here. May our home be filled with the blessing of visitors … The financial costs continue to be greater than I could anticipate. My ability to fundraise and communicate is very limited. We need your providence in a mighty and miraculous way. Give us our daily bread… I see options of ministry. May we have your vision. May you give us favor from government officials. May we have a great measure of your wisdom. I ask for you to let us see what we are to do – Disciple? Gather? Seminary? Church plant? Community Development? Please help us process a registration with wisdom and divine timing…. Help us to find the right place to locate. Give us property that will place us in a position to make the greatest impact for you on this city. Let it all be in your timing… But greater than these questions, give us you. We want you most… Thank you for our kids – Their joy, abilities, and insight. May you bless them immensely. Help their school go well next week. May teachers rise up for our school. Use these years in Rwanda for their development. May they find memories of joy here.

Another season of prayer in a younger day at Queen Elizabeth Park, Uganda
On February 7, 2006 I wrote, “Lord, I come to you groping for guidance and wisdom. It appears we are being hurried and redirected…. I see opportunities, but don’t know all that you intend to do. My dreams in Uganda rarely materialized. What went wrong? Was it me? … Or did you intend to do something I could not perceive? Were you preparing us for something we did not see? For another time or place? Part of me hungers to church plant. Part of me fears to church plant. I hunger to preach and see you change lives. I fear the responsibility and countless failures. Give me your wisdom.”
Today I sit in my office and remember our hero. The events of the last 5 years are not the results of man’s plans or labor, but the results of our Hero. On occasion we have been able to participate with Him. While we struggled in weakness our Hero:

Sophia's Baptism with Vital Byabushi and Fred Ssenkumba
Gave us many treasured friends from many denominations, nations, and organizations.
Always provided for our needs. We were never hungry or without a place to sleep.
■Our finances have yet to make sense, but huge debts have been paid. Most recently $1,356,000 was given to purchase our current church and school facility.
Used our past and present to build relationship wealth among our region’s government, media, academic, and business leaders.
Clarified our task was to plant a non-denominational church for Rwanda’s thought leaders. He continues to gather in ways we cannot imagine. Some Sundays now see as many as 350 people attend Christ's Church in Rwanda (CCR).
Caleb's Baptism with Gasangwa Family
Used many diverse people from fellow believers to agnostics to refine our thinking about how our faith community should build in Rwanda.
■Facilitated the completion of our church documentation.
Gave us one of Rwanda’s most visible properties for church planting in an estate that represents Rwanda’s vision for the future.
■Allowed us to be the boots on the ground to bring over 200 of Rwanda’s brightest young people to the United States to study (Rwanda Presidential Scholars Program.)
Filled our hearts with peace and joy.
Gave our children many diverse friends. Kigali International Community School (KICS) has over 200 students from over 30 nationalities.
Gave our children a school and made their years in Rwanda a joy.
■Provided teachers time after time, year after year in response to prayer when we had no idea how it all could come together.

■Pressed us hard like a coach who loves and believes in His team. We thought we would surely brake. However, He was always there at our lowest and loneliest points.
Ethan's Baptism in a Baptistry we did not build
■Took us through past seasons that were much like Joseph’s and Esther’s. We came to conclude our past disappointments were needed for the Lord to prepare us for such a time as this.
■Stilled our fears of failure and losing the favor of man while reminding us that we must ultimately fear the Lord more than all else.
■Allowed us the joy of preaching and seeing Jesus change lives

Ruth Baptism with Hixson, MacGruder, and Rossington Girls
Thus we conclude our thanksgiving to our Hero. Our short list does not give Him adequate honor. We are privileged to serve in Kigali.

Also, you may see why in our best moments we ask for you to pray and labor with us. Our Hero is amazing.

Imana ikurinde (May the Lord Stay with All of You),


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