Saturday, December 31, 2011


As 2011 comes to a close one word stands out – unforgettable.

We sensed Christ’s Church in Rwanda’s (CCR) future was to be found through investing in Rwanda’s youth. We prayed and moved forward assuming God directed our thought process. Dave in the spring of 2011 lectured to over 600 university students in ethics. Later Dave facilitated the Rwanda Presidential Scholars program with 20 of Rwanda’s brightest students beginning their undergraduate career at some of the top liberal arts universities in the United States. On Friday, 23 December over 300 young people gathered at CCR as we celebrated God’s goodness through music. Unforgettable.

We sensed that CCR must find a way to serve Rwanda’s most vulnerable children. God’s word and the best of Christian theologians resonated with the theme of adoption. On May 13, Mugisha Gabriel entered our lives. He has brought new joy and discovery to our home. On 17 November Mugisha Gabriel began having seizures. The seizures have decreased in frequency and intensity, but still remain. We do not know the future, but belief in God’s call. Unforgettable.

With a few others families in 2005 we began the dream of Kigali International Community School (KICS). We began with 26 students in a 4 bedroom rented home. In April 2007 KICS moved to her current home. The number of students has grown to over 200 from over 30 nationalities. KICS empowered investment and made Kigali livable for many families. On Friday, 27 May Sophia graduated from KICS. It was one of our most rewarding days since we arrived in Rwanda. She was accepted at prestigious Wheaton College. She began her college journey on Thursday, 18 August. Unforgettable.

We sensed that we had entered a season to seek God’s will for the future. Dave spent 40 days outside of Rwanda as we settled Sophia into college. It appeared doors were opening for a year furlough in Chicago to be near Sophia, serve Great Lakes Diaspora, and pursue further education. Then the ROC leadership asked if we would consider returning to the USA for a season to mature ROC as a missionary sending organization. We believed this was the call of God. Nineteen years of missionary service in the Great Lakes Region of Africa is coming to a close as we begin a season of serving in the Great Lakes Region of the United States. Unforgettable.

Our African missionary tradition is to celebrate the Christmas Season with all the strength and joy the Lord gives us. Just before Dave began his Christmas Eve Sermon, news came that our friend, Major Eustache Nsinga had passed from this life to another. Rwanda lost one of her brightest minds in ICT at the young age of 38. His sense of justice, loyalty, hope, and joy is irreplaceable. Our community’s loss is immense. Unforgettable.

Our CCR numbers were high over the Christmas Season. Over 200 attended our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Approximately 350 attended our Christmas Day Service. We faced paradox on Monday 26 December as over 650 from our community gathered for Major Eustache Nsinga's funeral. We remembered his life and our hope of a resurrection. Unforgettable.

Rwanda’s missionary tradition from the days of the East African Revival in the 1940’s is to gather on the Kumbya Peninsula on Lake Kivu to rest and reflect. Sophia is home with us for Christmas. Our family is together for a few days in Africa before we begin our newest transition to the United States in 2012. We again are at Kumbya. This morning Dave remembered 45 years and 4 recovered back surgeries as he swam 2400 meters in Lake Kivu. Unforgettable.

Through these journeys old truths remain. Our hope is in the resurrection. On this earth our greatest joys are in family and friends.

Many of you have sacrificed deeply to make this journey possible. Your sacrifices have blessed many. Our December financial report showed that giving was down in 2011. Yet, God has done the surprising through friends and family for 19 years. A year end gift would greatly ease our transitions in 2012. However, God chooses to shape us in 2012 we trust it will be unforgettable.

May your yearend reflections also be filled with joyful memories of the Lord’s goodness.

Imana ikurinde (May God Stay With All of You),

Dave and Jana

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Our Father Who Art in Heaven,

Our Lord taught us to pray with this address. Somehow, we are not struck by the wonder of our Lord’s simple description. You are the God of All. You are the God of Heaven and Earth. You are Sovereign, Creator, and Redeemer. You are our Father.

When you chose to disclose the intimacies of your intent you spoke through prophets of the Old Testament; your Son, Jesus; and the Apostles of the New Testament. They all proclaimed you as Father. They had many illustrations of your love. The most striking is of adoption.

Our sin has made us like children abandoned in a field. You have adopted us. You are our hope, protector, and provider. You love us with the intimacies of a Father. You laugh with us and cry with us. You cheer for us. You discipline us. You run to us when we return. To dwell in your house is our greatest desire.

Father, for two years some of us at CCR prayed for you to disclose your will for CCR and vulnerable children. We listened. We wrestled. We tried a few things. Then like a flood you spoke. We should have heard sooner and clearer. Yet, we heard. Children belong in a family.

We repent for substituting activities and projects for your intimacies. Adoption is awe inspiring and consuming – just like you. May our love to vulnerable children reflect your love to us.

Thank you for bringing this blessed messenger – Gabriel Mugisha to our lives. His name states your intent. Gabriel is the Mighty Messenger of God. Mugisha is The Blessed One. We have been blessed by his message.

Father he has survived the unthinkable. Father he has captured the hearts of our family, church, and community. We cheer for him. Throughout Kigali as he enters a room we hear, “Mugisha, how are you?” He teaches us to hunger for you.

Father, thank you for his joy, laughter, hope, and endurance. May you bless all of him.

Father, we vacillate between weeping and anger when we see him in a seizure. We ask for you to touch him as your son touched children years ago. Please heal this child.

Father, we thank you for the counsel of doctors and friends in Kigali and Nairobi. We believe like they that Mugisha’s future is a mysterious hope. We thank you that the seizures have decreased. We ask for you to remove them completely.

Father, we love Mugisha as our own child. We recognize he is your child first.

Father, we ask that you take away our temporary status with Mugisha. Please place him in a permanent family.

Father, on my birthday be with the Rwanda judge who we hope to rule today. If Mugisha has a biological family who can be found to care for him with your love please reunite them. If Mugisha’s family cannot be found please clear the way for another.

Father may your glory be seen through Mugisha.

We come to you in the name of your son, Jesus.



The word of God in James 4:14 proclaims, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears a little while and then vanishes.” Eustache Nsinga has passed from this life to another far too quickly. Most of us are still in shock. This seems unbelievable.

Eustache Nsinga was born on 4 August 1973 to Emmanuel Basomingera and Marianne Mukasarambuye in Bujumbura, Burundi. He passed from this life to another on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2011 in Kigali. That day will remain unforgettable in all of our lives.
On Christmas Eve 2011 I was performing the Christmas Eve Service at Christ’s Church in Rwanda (CCR) when I was asked to step outside of the assembly for an urgent matter. Gatete, Eustache’s housekeeper came with the news that Eustache Nsinga had passed from this life to another. I thought, “Surely not. This must be an ugly rumor or a big misunderstanding.” I returned to the assembly and sat with my wife, Jana; and told her, “There is an awful rumor going around that Eustache Nsinga has died.”

Then my phone rang. I rarely pick up a phone call during church, but as I looked down I saw it was from Eustache. I stepped out and answered the phone expecting to hear Eustache’s voice. Instead it was his brother, Innocent confirming the news. Eustache has passed from this life to another.

I imagine I am not the only one who has felt shock over this Christmas season.

This morning as I checked emails I received one from a relative of Eustache in Canada. She had seen the dialogue on Facebook and thought this was just a really bad joke. She wrote asking, “Pastor, tell me what is true.”

It is true. Eustache Nsinga has passed from this life to another.

Another word besides unforgettable fills our discussion of Eustache’s passing. That word is irreplaceable. How can we face life without Eustache? A man’s days on this earth are fleeting. We are all just a mist. Yet, the principles of a man’s life endure. There are principles those of us a bit older teach to younger generations.

Many of you are fortunate to have known Eustache longer than the 5 years I knew Eustache. In my interactions with Eustache there were 4 principles in his life that are enduring characteristics. These 4 principles are the substance which makes the memories of Eustache irreplaceable.

The first principle I remember from Eustache’s life is justice and equality.
Eustache befriended me in the early days as we started CCR a little over 4 years ago. From the beginning he never treated me different from others due to the color of my skin. He made me feel as at home in Rwanda as I would feel in the village in the United States where my parents live.

God’s word proclaims in Leviticus 19:33-35, "When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don't take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God”. Eustache lived this principle.

When I asked him why he was so kind and treated people with equality he told stories. One was of his early years as a refugee in Burundi. Another was his early days as a student at La Roche University in America. I remember him telling me of traveling to the United States when French and Kinyarwanda were his preferred languages and his English skills were just beginning. He told me of going to the university cafeteria, looking at food, and struggling to explain what he wanted to eat. Those memories stayed with Eustache and empowered him to treat others with kindness and equality.

The second enduring principle of Eustache Nsinga’s life was his faithfulness to his covenants. God’s word proclaims, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. (Deuteronomy 7:9.) …. If you listen to these regulations and faithfully obey them, the Lord your God will keep his covenant of unfailing love with you, as he promised with an oath to your ancestors. (Deuteronomy 7:12.)”

In my early years in Rwanda I was fortunate to be part of a small project called the Presidential Scholars that helped some of Rwanda’s best young academic minds study in the USA. The program has grown to over 300 students and Eustache was one of our key early advisors. He shared with me his story of attending La Roche College and upon graduation being one of the few to return to Rwanda while others just disappeared in America. Eustache was faithful to his covenants. He loved Rwanda and could not imagine breaking faith with his covenant to return. As years passed he pointed out that those who thought they had found a better path through broken covenants had become irrelevant while his faithfulness was rewarded.

What gave Eustache the ability to persevere and keep his covenants?

Two more enduring principles of Eustache’s life stand out. The third enduring principle of Eustache’s life is joy. God’s word proclaims, “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (John 16:22.)” This is the joy we speak of today. Loss of life on this earth does not endure. Another day is coming. On that day we will rejoice. Our joy cannot be contained by the circumstances of today.

That joy is given by the fourth enduring principle of Eustache’s life, hope. “And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (Romans 5:4.)” Eustache’s character was one that could endure great difficulties confident in eternal hope.

As we say goodbye to Eustache from this earth some questions come to mind. His death was far too early. He had given much and still had much to give. He was young. He was talented. His dreams for Rwanda had not yet come to pass.

Why this tragic and sudden loss? Death is not God’s intention. His intent is to bring us full and abundant life (John 1:4; 3:15-17; 6:40; 10:10). In the beginning as God created the earth everything He created was good (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Sickness, death, and suffering were not God’s intent. Death entered into the world as a consequence of sin (Romans 5:12-20). With the entrance of sin into our world everything changed. Yet, God knew this would be the story. He knew that the world and people He created would betray Him. The only way to restore creation to God’s intent was for Him to offer His son to die in our place. God made this choose before the beginning of time. He was a Redeemer before He was a Creator (Ephesians 1:4, 5). The illustration of God’s love is one of an Adoptive Father rescuing an abandoned child (Ezekiel 16:4-6). This is what God has done for all of us.

Where is this going? We will go to Eustache (2 Samuel 12:23). He will not return to us. King David as he grieved for his sick son stopped his grief when the son died. He recognized in the passing of life that now the season had come in which he would go to his passed son. We are now in that season. We will go to Eustache.

Some may ask, “Where is God when we suffer? He is not distant. He sees our grief and is filled with compassion (John 11:33-35). The stories of Jesus in the New Testament use an English word that is translated compassion. Those of us that speak several languages know that sometimes there is a word in one language that cannot be adequately translated to another. Splaxna is the Greek word usually translated “compassion” in English bibles. It literally means that when Jesus sees another suffering it made him hurt inside. Jesus literally felt “shaky guts.” This is part of being human created in the image of God. We feel one another’s pain. Then as we go to them and physically touch them we are physically healed.

We experienced that the last few days. The news of Eustache’s death was shocking. It left us confused and disorientated. It made us physically in pain. Then as we met and embraced we were comforted and healed.

I have a small genetic misfortune. My dad, brothers, and uncles all have portions of the cartilage in our spines that will deteriorate. As the cartilage collapses it causes severe pain that radiates down our legs and arms. I have had 4 seasons in which this pain came to my life. During the first season I was very angry with God. Yet, a friend told me is it ok to be angry with God. He is a big enough God to receive the anger. In the midst of the anger God healed my spirit.

The last time I experienced this pain just before I went into surgery I saw a phone call coming into my mobile phone. It was Eustache Nsinga calling to encourage me. He was like Jesus to me. He had lived through pain. He knew what it was like to suffer. He came close to encourage and suffered with me. In the process I found courage and hope.

Ultimately, Jesus answers the question of where is God when we suffer by his death upon the cross. Our sin has caused great suffering. On the cross the consequences of sin are taken away (Hebrews 2:17-18).

What can we expect? The Resurrection is coming. Let me close by reading God’s word.

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die (John 11:25).”

“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him (1 Thessalonians 4:14).”

“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever (
John 14:16).”

Friday, December 23, 2011


Dear CCR Family and Friends,

I imagine most of us are now scurrying to make our final preparations for Christmas. We are looking for every possible coin, contacting family and friends, enjoying our holidays, and planning celebrations.

Yet, in the midst of our busyness many of us also struggle. Those who keep statistics on the human spirit note that the Christmas season for many is the loneliest of the year.

Even as we read the stories of the Son of God’s entrance into our world we see He came during a time of great economic and political turmoil. His own family was going through embarrassing situations (Matthew 1).

Yet, with the birth of every child comes promise.
He was given two names. The first, “Jesus” predicted that He would take away our failings so that we could discover all the wonder of life. The second, “Immanuel” told us that God himself would come close to us. We would live in community with God and men.

I hope your entire family will discover again the joy of living in community with God and men this Christmas. We are making special plans for this weekend at CCR.

• Tonight, Friday, 23 December we will host the Youth Dance Festival Of Da Year - Round 3 AND 4 ( Finals). We will start at 6:00 p.m. God’s Army Dance Troupe from Uganda will be our guest performers.

• Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, Saturday, 24 December we will host a Christmas Children’s Party at 4:30 p.m. Father Christmas will make a special appearance.

• This will be followed by one of our yearly highlights, the CCR Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6:00 p.m. where we use candles to symbolize the entrance of the light of the world into our dark world.

• For Christmas Day, Sunday 25 December we will have just one worship service at 10:00 a.m.

We hope you will be able to join us as we celebrate community with God and men.


Friday, December 16, 2011


It seems our Nigerian conman stalker is at it again. For the last year, someone has been using Craig's List to rent pseudo-property masquerading as us. He's attempted to rent property in New York and the East Coast of the United States. We've done blogs, Facebook statuses, and twitter. Also, I've dropped notes to Craig's List and yahoo plus tried to go through law enforcement internet reporting mechanisms.

His story is that he is us, will be out of the USA for several years, and would like to rent his home.

It is not true.

Please don't fall for this scam.

If you are able to ever meet this individual face to face please place your hands upon him, pray, and contact your nearest police station.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Today is Jamhuri (Independence) Day in Kenya. 48 years ago, our Kenyan brothers and sisters began their journey as a nation free from colonialism.

Today our home nation of the USA rests on the calendar between American Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a season of remembrance, joy, thanksgiving, and community.

Today is the 26th day that we have struggled with our foster son, Mugisha Gabriel’s seizures.

We have been in Nairobi for 12 days seeking medical expertise. Our son, Timothy is with us. Our old oldest daughter, Sophia is finishing her final exams at Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois, USA; and plans to join us in Kigali for Christmas on Saturday, 17 December. Our other children; Caleb, Ethan, and Ruth remain in Kigali – attending school and living at home. Through a season of difficulty our family is in three different countries, but united in hope. We trust we will shortly be together face to face.

Over the last 12 days we have done EEG, MRI, X-rays, and blood tests for Mugisha Gabriel. We have seen a pediatric neurologist, Dr. Osman Miyanji at Aga Khan University Hospital. The diagnosis seems clear. Mugisha Gabriel had a brain injury at birth. The cyst is his body’s attempt to protect and heal. The seizures are the results of the injury. We are adjusting medicine and doing occupational therapy. We do not know Mugisha Gabriel’s future. God knows Mugisha Gabriel’s future. He instructs us that every child deserves life in a family.

We have learned to trust our faith community. Some have written us. Ann Rugege, a CCR member wrote, “He has endured so much. He is a survivor and will overcome this too. What a challenge, but God is still in control. May His message or lesson be revealed.”

Another, Annik Rudakemwa wrote, “Don’t worry pastor. I know that God has a good plan for Gabriel. Let’s keep praying for him. Thank you. Be blessed.”

Kenya is the nation of Jana’s childhood. It feels familiar yet foreign at the same time. Arriving in Nairobi feels like arrival in Kampala, Uganda; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; or Abilene, Texas. These are cities filled with good memories. Yet, our arrival at each city requires a fresh start. All cities change. Since our last visit friends have come and gone from Nairobi. Also, traffic seems a bit more hectic. At times these fresh starts feel quite lonely. An arrival brought on by crisis increases the sense of loneliness.

Christmas is the season of wonder. Matthew introduces the story of Jesus with theological clarity. Jesus is the Messiah (Christ, Anointed One, Fulfiller of our Hopes). Jesus is the descendant of Judah’s ideal king and father (David, the King; and Abraham, the Patriarch of the Nation) (1:1). When we are tempted to take pride Matthew reminds us our humanity. Our ancestors just like us have many failings (1:2-17). Into humanity’s paradox of chaos and hope God enters miraculously, comes close, and rescues us (1:18-25).

Dave’s first Christmas in Africa was as disastrous as memorable. (For further reading see

The consequence was learning to embrace and celebrate paradox, unity, and wonder. Through our journey in Africa we expect God to do the profound and unexpected each Christmas season. We create traditions that empower discovery. CCR embraces these traditions of discovery.

It seems each Christmas in Africa God provides an earthly reminder of His care and sovereignty. On the second day of our Nairobi medical journey we stopped at Uchumi Supermarket at the Sarit Center to buy some supplies for Mugisha Gabriel. Then from behind us an old friend called. It was Mona Zikusooka. We had not seen her in seven years. God put our paths together again for such a time as this.

During our years in Uganda we had a delightful season in the mid-90’s in which we served a group of university students and young professionals with a ministry called UP (University. Professional). Jacob Zikusooka and his romantic interest, Mona were part of our core. The ministry vision was simple – provide a Saturday evening alternative to discos and bars. With Uganda’s raging AIDS crisis at the time it was a matter of life and death. Out of weekly party opportunities to mentor young people grew.

As Jacob and Mona decided their romance would grow into marriage they asked for us to do pre-marital counseling. We spent six months meeting weekly and sharing the wisdom God had given our own young marriage. It was one of those ministry seasons in which we found great joy. We’ve counseled other couples since then, but never for the amount of time with Jacob and Mona.

As time went on Jacob and Mona graduated. They had three beautiful daughters. Mona had a good job with Save The Children. Jacob worked with a clearing and forwarding company, and then had the courage to launch his own business.

We moved to Rwanda in 2005 from Uganda and lost touch. We on occasion traded an e-mail once a year or so, but beyond that had little contact.

The Zikusookas matured in life. Jacob served as the Chairman of the Elders board at a local church in Uganda. Two months ago, unknown to us Mona took a job with Save The Children’s Somalia Project in Nairobi. Jacob opened an office in Nairobi. The Zikusookas became Nairobi residents.

We had lunch with Jacob on Mona the first Sunday we were in Nairobi. A few days later, Nairobi guesthouse living became too difficult. We needed to be in a place that felt like family. We moved in with Jacob and Mona. A few hours later, Gabriel had a seizure. Their family gathered with us quietly around Gabriel, touched him, and gently prayed.

God had placed our lives in just the places we needed to be.

2011 marks 18 years in Africa as adults. Of these years we have spent 13 Christmas’ in Africa. As we matured to embrace African Christmas traditions God showed us the wonder of Immanuel. He is near. He displays His care many times through friendships that arise in surprising ways. Christmas is a season of wonder.

Some will use words such as “mentors” to describe our influence for the Lord in our Great Lakes Region. We’re quite hesitant to take titles that portray us in light that looks heroic. God is the hero of this journey. We have gone where we were called, spoken good words for Jesus, and done the work of each day. Sometimes we have juggled seasons of chaos. All the chaotic seasons transitioned to a place of thanksgiving for God’s providence.

Now, it seems we are nearing the close of a season in Africa. We sense God is calling us to return to the USA. We sense we must return to honor our parents and nurture our children. We sense we must return to mature ROC as a missionary sending organization. This call is more painful than the one that brought us to Uganda 18 years ago.

Where will we be on Kenya’s Jamhuri Day?

With whom will we dance on October 9 to celebrate Uganda’s Independence?

On July 4 as we celebrate America’s Independence with who will we also thank God that Rwanda’s Genocide was brought to an end?

When we are in a foreign city and in crisis will we find an old friend? Who will offer us shelter, food, and prayers for our children?

Christmas teaches us that the answers to these questions rest in the nature of God. He will be near. His care is expressed through His people.

18 years have happened because family, friends, and churches have shared in our call. They have listened, heard, and made painful sacrifices. Those sacrifices have changed lives. Those sacrifices have been Immanuel like gifts.

Our support usually increases during our furloughs. Then about one year to 18 months after returning to Africa it starts a gradual decline. We hold our breath and hope for the best. Each Christmas season it seems we receive a few gifts of wonder that continue the sustenance of God.

We request that this season you join us in making a donation. We are a faith mission dependent on God’s providence expressed through free will offerings of family, friends, and churches.

Thirteen days ago, we reserved tickets to come to Nairobi to seek medical care for Gabriel with no money in hand. A few hours later two friends surprised us. We also came not knowing which old friends we would discover in Nairobi.

We thank God for his providence.

If you would like to make a yearend donation, please make a check to ROC Partners with Jenkins Memo, and mail it to:

ROC Partners,
3007 NW 63rd Ste 205
Oklahoma City, OK 73116-3605

Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

Dave and Jana

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Dear Family and Friends,

Ten days ago was American Thanksgiving. Our home was busy. We had over 70 guests. American holidays in Africa are treasured memories. In a certain way they come with more intensity and purpose. The number of American missionary, development workers, and business people in Rwanda has grown significantly in the last 6 years. Our home is one of those gathering points of celebration and thanksgiving. We count it a sacred joy.

Yet between celebrations we ran back and forth to King Faisal Hospital to be with our foster son, Gabriel Mugisha. He began having seizures on November 17. There is a cyst in his brain. We remember our faith, love Gabriel, and pray.

After spending 11 days at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali we decided to travel to Nairobi, Kenya to see a pediatric neurologist. Last Thursday, we had our first appointment with Dr. Miyanji (The Senior Pediatric Neurologist at Nairobi’s Aga Khan University Hospital.) He has ordered more tests. We will have our follow up visit with him on Tuesday, December 6.

We ask that through these holiday seasons you join us in the holy paradox of faith and prayer. Thank you so much for your prayers, support, and encouragement through this season.

Imana ikurinde (May God Stay With All of You),

Dave and Jana

P.S. If you would like more details about our journey with Gabriel you can check out our most recent blog postings at

P.S.S. The story of Gabriel has captured our community’s attention. Dave’s most recent Focus column can be read at