Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The Harambee is over. We are still receiving pledges and donations. As we write our Rwanda community has given over $4,900 and friends in the United States have given over $2,300. Of the $22,000 we anticipate we need to get Sophia through her first year at Wheaton we now have in hand $7,200. To honor God, our heritage, and our community we must tell the story of this Harambee. Enjoy.

Our most read blog post is a sermon Dave preached on 27 March 2011 from Leviticus 25 on the Jubilee entitled “Audacious Forgiveness Must Be Institutional” (To read it check out our blog at http://jenkinsinrwanda.blogspot.com/2011/03/audacious-forgiveness-must-be.html.)

In this sermon Dave argues that at least once per lifetime our community has been so traumatized that the only way that our community can become what God intends is for the community to use the strength of her network and institutions to practice audacious forgiveness. Jubilee calls us to the paradox of justice and mercy. Rwanda’s history of carrying the debt of a genocide regime calls for forgiveness from the world’s creditors while it also calls for contemporary Rwanda to be a leader in generosity. This is a great theory, but the details of living get tricky.

How do we practice Jubilee Economics? Practice Harambee Economics. What is a Harambee? Allow us to tell our story.

During previous furloughs our family has looked at many different universities as possible places for Sophia to attend college. Of the many possibilities Wheaton College rose to the top. (To read about Sophia’s thought process check out http://thoughtsofthewanderingchild.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-wheaton-decision.html?spref=fb.)

Dave’s morning runs this last year focused on prayer for Sophia to be admitted to Wheaton. He begged God for this opportunity. Sophia’s admission was delayed, but when it came we were ecstatic, told all our friends, and celebrated.

Then the process began of seeking scholarships and applying for financial aid. By mid June we had gone as far as we could go and were still lacking $22,000 per year. In 2008 as our missionary support was good and Jana was employed by Gladney Center for Adoption our family could have afforded Wheaton. Then the global financial crisis cost Jana her job, Dave and Jana both became sick, and our support took some dips. We spent our life savings on a year of medical leave with the belief that God had called us to Rwanda and we must do all within our ability to pay our bills and serve in Rwanda until God called us to another place or season. We returned to Rwanda in 2010 and it has been a journey full of spiritual harvest.

In prayer Dave told God the message of patriarchs and prophets, “God I have helped over 300 Rwandan students attend university in the USA. Can you help my daughter go to Wheaton? Remember, your servant.”

The next morning, Dave felt compelled to host a Harambee.

For those new to our region, allow us to tell about our heritage. God’s word teaches that when we go through seasons of uncertainty and struggle God remembers us (Exodus 2:4). Our response should be that we remembers all that God has done for us and give Him honor (Deuteronomy 7:18). In June 2005 we came to Kigali with the God led dream of starting a non-denominational English language church with a good children’s program. We had a few friends in the USA who made this possible by their support, and a few Rwandan friends who made this possible by opening doors. God has done amazing things through a simple network of praying friends. We should never doubt what God will do when friends gather, pray, and celebrate.

God’s word also teaches our enduring presence in a location is the result of honoring our heritage. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12),” has resonated repeatedly in our minds. Our heritage of faith comes from the American Restoration Movement. We must always seek unity and revival to honor this heritage.

Our family’s ministry heritage comes from Gaston and Jan Tarbet (Jana’s parents) who served in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. Their longest tenure was in Kenya (1968-1976; 1979-1980; 1988-1989). Kenya’s tradition of Harambee called us.

As Kenya gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, her first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta began the Harambee tradition. The country must pull together and organize. The past must be forgiven. A fresh start was possible, but only when the individual resources were pooled in a community of good will. Kenyatta said, "There is no society of angels, black, brown or white. We are human beings and as such we are bound to make mistakes. If I have done a mistake to you, it is for you to forgive me. If you have done a mistake to me, it is for me to forgive you. (For more reading on Kenyatta’s Harambee from 1963 check out http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,875094,00.html.)

From Kenyatta’s vision Harambee developed so when a community faced a struggle a celebration was called to gather resources to overcome. The Jubilee of the Old Testament lived in Kenya’s Harambee.

Our family journeyed west from Kenya to Uganda, and now to Rwanda. Many in our Rwanda community share our region’s history and Harambee tradition. $22,000 divided by 300 contributions is $73.33. Four years of this is $293.33. Could friends be gathered who could make enough contributions that in our season of uncertainty our daughter could study at the university we had prayed for?

On Saturday, 6 August the Harambee in Kigali was celebrated. We invited every friend in the world. One Kigali friend sent us a sms on Saturday morning to inform us that due to some unforeseen family financial difficulties he could not attend. We responded that our Harambee required no donation. Our earthly wealth is our family and friends. All we requested was their prayers and celebration as we sought to discover resources for Sophia to attend Wheaton.

Our guests ranged from university students to fellow missionaries to CCR members to Rwandan leaders in government, business, and academics. From the beginning the Harambee was a community endeavor. For days we passed out invitations and our friends gathered ideas and resources to make the Harambee a success. We knew we would need more chairs than our family possessed. Our old friend, Paul Jabo volunteered to organize renting chairs and then paid for the chair rental fees. We were cooking assuming that we would have 150 to 200 people in attendance. Our old friend, Shakira who has cooked for KICS and the Day Care at CCR (First Impressions) volunteered to cook.

We decorated our home, put up CCR tents, gathered refreshments, started a bonfire, and had the CCR band plus violinists scheduled to play.

Then the crowd began coming. It was more people and diversity than we could have expected. Some of our African friends had not grown up like us in Kenya. Others from the USA, Canada, or UK were unfamiliar with the Harambee tradition. Thus Dave explained that a season had come to celebrate and organize together. We are thrilled at Sophia’s academic success. We are thrilled at her opportunity at Wheaton. As this was a matter of prayer we must pursue it to the end assuming that God will open up each door at the appropriate time.

We explained that a basket was on the side in which people could place their contributions and pledges. As the night finished we began counting. Some came with not a coin, but graced us with their joy. Others gave only a few coins. However, many gave more. Most contributions were in the range of $40 to $200. The Rwandan community gave as much as the expatriates. In fact, the night’s largest contributor was a Rwandan family that gave $500. Our total now stands at $7,194.33 that family and friends have now given to Sophia’s education at Wheaton. Of this $2,200 has been contributed by family and friends in the United States while family and friends in Rwanda have contributed $4994.33. We are very blessed by our generous community in Kigali.

Dave and Sophia are scheduled to fly out of Kigali for the U.S. on Thursday, 11 August. The Lord has used our community to gather enough money to make Sophia’s initial payments this year at Wheaton. We still have about $14,905 to go to get Sophia through her first year at Wheaton.

We remember. In June 2005 we came to Kigali with the hope of starting a church. We later found out that registering one would be difficult. In May 2006 CCR was registered. In October 2005 we realized we could not survive as a family in Kigali without an international school. We gathered with friends and in September 2006 Kigali International Community School (KICS) began. As these opportunities began we realized the need for property and were shown an ideal facility that cost $1,356,000. By February 2007 we negotiated a deal to make payments and the building is now completely purchased. With each major decision we’ve bathed our dreams in prayer and then moved forward believing this was the Lord’s leading of our community. We feel exactly the same about Sophia’s choice to attend Wheaton. God is the hero of this story. He has been faithful.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

If you would like to make a graduation gift to help Sophia attend Wheaton please write a check to Sophia Jenkins and mail your check to:

Bluestone Federal Credit Union,
1252 Yankee Doodle Road,
Eagan, MN 55121.
Bluestone Phone Number: 651-452-3131

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

Dave and Jana

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