I live in Kimihurura between the Papyrus Restaurant and Cadillac Night Club. Between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights I see women who appear to be prostitutes outside my home. They are scantily dressed. My Saturday morning usually starts with a run. My Sunday morning usually starts with leaving home early to prepare for worship at CCR. Many times, I have short conversation with the women who appear to be prostitutes. They call me sweet names, try to initiate conversations, and some even try to touch me. I am 44 years old. I have never been described as handsome. I have a bad back, five kids, and a missionary salary. A young scantily dressed attractive woman who has a romantic interest in me is either mentally deranged or a prostitute. I am a husband. I am a father. I am a pastor. I am a runner. I am not a loaf of bread. When a prostitute calls me, I keep running. They leave me after less than 100 meters.
I am a Muzungu. I at times appear to have money. I sometimes attract religious conmen. They find me at all hours of the day and a multiple of times per week. Their dress is either immaculate or shabby. They try to make me either feel sorry for them, or be amazed by their spiritual power. I have learned not to trust them. However, some of my Bazungu friends will listen to their stories. They speak sweet Kilokole. However, like the prostitute they only see me as a loaf of bread. When the religious conman calls me I keep running. I am not a loaf of bread. They leave me after a few pastoral running strides.
On my morning runs sometimes the children of Kigali choose to join me. We run together. They make me laugh. They seem to know who I am. Sometimes, they chant, “Jesus,” or, “Imana ishimwe.” They follow me kilometer after kilometer. They make me a better runner. They enjoy my friendship and seem to know I seek the bread of life.
At Sunday mornings at CCR and throughout the week, seekers choose to join me. We pray together. We share. We laugh. We cry. Sometimes, we dance. They find my failings and still follow me kilometer after kilometer. They make me a better pastor. They enjoy my friendship and seem to know I seek the bread of life.
As the children join me on a run I notice some are girls. I wonder if the prostitutes who follow me for a few meters once were little girls who shared a run with me for kilometers. Something went terribly wrong.
As the seekers join me for prayer I notice some are hurting. I wonder if the religious conmen who follow me for a few meters were once honest seekers who shared life with me. Something went terribly wrong.
I don’t like prostitutes or religious conmen. I don’t like being treated like a loaf of bread. However, I find that both suffer from the same disease. Prostitutes and religious conmen thrive in a world of non-literacy and poverty. In a way they are victims.
I do enjoy children and seekers. I think they follow me for the much the same reasons. We both seek friendship and the bread of life. Life may have struggle, but we refuse to be victims. We thrive in a world full of love, hope, and joy.
Prostitutes economically thrive by finding those who are sexually unfulfilled. Religious conmen economically thrive by finding those who are emotionally unfilled. I find the prostitute’s and religious conmen’s clients to be more repulsive than the prostitutes or religious conmen. Some like to rant at prostitutes and religious conmen. Some intend to police them out of existence. However, let me propose a few solutions to make Kigali a more pleasant city. Let us build schools and businesses. Let us build a literate and wealthy population. There will always be a portion of our city that is poor. However, let us make the options of prostitution and religious conmen much less financially advantageous.
Next, let us find a way to police the financiers of prostitutes and religious conmen. If we dry up the money the prostitutes and religious conmen will go somewhere else. Maybe, we would be well served to run internet photos of both prostitute’s clients and religious conmen’s financier with a short story?
Prostitutes and religious conmen, I feel mercy for your situation. However, I am not a loaf of bread.
Children and seekers; let us continue to run. Together we can find the bread of life.