Thursday, January 26, 2012


When one is called the community is in a crisis. The crises cover all sorts of community problems. This week we’ll look at a timeless community crisis (just a few weeks before Valentine’s Day.)

Sometimes there is a single young man in our community who cannot find a wife. He’s educated, handsome, and likable; but for some reason he cannot find that special young woman. We worry a bit about him. We sense something is holding him back. We don’t know what to do.

Sometimes there is a single young woman in our community who cannot find a husband. She’s educated, beautiful, and socially gifted; but for some reason it seems the young men in our midst don’t see all she has to offer. We worry a bit about her. We wonder if we need to help a young man have the courage to ask her out on a date. We don’t know what to do.

The substance of life has not changed in thousands of years. Our human future depends on young men and women falling in love, marrying, and having children that fill our community with joy and hope.

Thousands of years ago, a called man named Abraham was looking at his son, Isaac with the same concerns. He called his servant to go find Isaac a wife. This week we’ll look at the call to be a matchmaker.

We need you bzee and respected wise women to guide our youth.

We need you young people to listen well. We believe in you. We trust the best for you. We believe the best of this earth is marriage.

We are called to be a matchmaker.


P.S. Thank you to those who follow me on twitter as this week I was ranked the #9 Best Rwanda Twitter in 2011 in

Monday, January 23, 2012

A master road builder’s vision

A month ago I was in Nairobi to seek healing for my foster son, Mugisha Gabriel. We arrived at approximately 8:00 a.m. for a 2:00 p.m. appointment at Aga Khan Hospital. It should have taken 45 minutes to reach Aga Khan. Instead we barely made the appointment. Something is horribly wrong with Nairobi. It is the roads.

Whenever a friend from Nairobi visits me it seems our first adjustment question concerns the roads of Kigali. Something is right with Kigali. It is the roads.

Metaphors are dangerous commu­nication devices. They turn the pro­found and complex into a simple sym­bol. Yet they resonate. The tragedies of our Great Lake’s history are most clearly seen in our roads. Our hope can be found in a master road builder’s vi­sion.

I’ve spent years complaining about Nairobi traffic. Is it corruption? Is it poor planning? Is it poor maintenance?

A month ago a new thought crossed my mind. Nairobi was designed to be the perfect city for British colonial ad­ministrators. It had a pleasant climate, good churches and schools, theatres, a railroad, low labor costs, and proxim­ity to abundant natural resources. The only problem was the city designers had no idea where Nairobi was going. The road builders had no vision. Nai­robi refused to be contained.

The seemingly irrelevant, but trou­blesome missionaries were starting schools and preaching that all men were made in the image of God. Knowl­edge coupled with dignity could not tolerate a shortsighted vision of Nai­robi. The road builders had no vision. Nairobi refused to be contained.

The lower caste Asians who built a railroad saw an entrepreneurial oppor­tunity. They went to work. Commerce thrived. With economic gain again came the calls of dignity. The road builders had no vision. Nairobi refused to be contained.

Independence came in 1962 with ap­proximately 250,000 living in Nairobi. With independence all roads led to Nairobi. It became the city of destiny for the ambitious. Today approximate­ly 4,000,000 live in Nairobi. Yet the old roads remain. All complain. The root problem is the founding road builder’s poor vision. He never foresaw the con­sequence of faith, education, business, and ambition.

A wise mother was once asked how she succeeded at raising her sons. She remarked that she caned the older ones with the younger watching. Little brother succeeded by not making the mistakes of his big brother. My meta­phor is too strong if we interpret Nai­robi to be Kigali’s older brother. Let’s interpret Nairobi as our caned brother with historic vision mistakes. Our task today is to build a city that holds mil­lions and represents the hopes of a re­gion.

In order to reach these hopes we need a master road builder. Approxi­mately 2,700 years ago a man gifted with profound moral insight and ex­ceptional powers of expression named Isaiah spoke of a master road builder’s vision,

“I form you and use you to recon­nect the people with me, To put the land in order, to resettle families on the ruined properties…For the Compas­sionate One guides them, takes them to the best springs. I’ll make all my mountains into roads, turn them into a superhighway. Look: These coming from far countries, and those, out of the north, these streaming in from the west, and those from all the way down the Nile!” (Isaiah 49:8-12, The Mes­sage.)”

History’s great prophets recycle themselves time after time. What will a Kigali built by a master road builder be like? First, no man or woman gets the glory. When it is a master piece the designer is God himself. Second, God will use the humble who by the coin­cidences of history realize they are the ones entrusted with the tasks of the day. The human master road build­ers will be remembered in history by phrases such as “I just got lucky. I just went to work. I worked with a group of heroes. This was about much more than me. This was a call from God to our community.”

Next, the human road builders know the emotions of empathy and compas­sion. They remember what it is like to not have a home to call their own. They grieve over each loss. They labor for the love of future generations in their community. Their greatest desire is for the success of our families.

With this compassion comes cou­rageous vision. Mountains that seem impassable become roads. Then as the road matures it becomes a highway that gathers a region.

What gathers? Nairobi’s failings provide some answers.

First, we come to seek healing. In­vestment in health care brings rewards. Inefficiency in just traveling across town to find healing is unacceptable. We need roads with a vision for ease of movement so we can be healed.

Second, education provides inspira­tion. Our roads must connect schools on the top of Kigali’s hills.

Third, business builds not only wealth but dignity. Our roads must sustain ease of commerce transport.

Lastly, our roads must do for gen­erations what Isaiah predicted. They must call us to journey in discovery.

Something is wrong with Nairobi. It is the roads. Something is right with Kigali. It is the roads. Our hope is in a master road builder.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Three months ago, we announced at CCR that my family sensed God was calling us to return the USA to mature ROC (Rwanda Outreach Community) Partners as a missionary sending organization. We spent several weeks deeply wrestling with the sense of call. (To read about the wrestling see

In five months we will transition to the USA for a season. Throughout the Old and New Testament there is a familiar pattern to a call. First, a community is in crisis. Second, God speaks to an individual who has long been prepared to be part of the answer. Third, the individual objects to the call. He would rather God ask someone else. In fact, the individual is sure God can find someone better prepared. Calls are never easy. Then God reassures the individual. Finally, the called obeys. Then the journey begins.

Rwanda is a country in a hurry. Our basic institutions are young. We need so many more businesses, schools, churches, and institutions beyond measure. Many of us describe our lives compared to our peers with words like, “I just got lucky.” We can’t explain our good fortune of education, professional skill, relationship networks, and opportunity with just coincidence. We wake in the mornings aware of just how much work is needed. We are “called.”

Most contemporary Kilokole teaching on “calling” misses the basic biblical process of calls. Kilokole can be far too focused on individual ambition, talent, and opportunity. Biblical calls ask an individual to hear God through the needs of one’s community, see the tasks are far bigger than our individual ability, and step forward trusting God.

For the next three months at CCR we’ll go on a journey looking at stories of God’s call. I hope you can join us as we begin OUR CALL series this Sunday at CCR.

Imana ikurinde,


Friday, January 13, 2012


Almost nineteen years ago, I hugged my parent at the Minneapolis St. Paul airport and with Jana and Sophia flew off to a new life in Uganda. My parents were in tears, but we left in hope.

Seventeen years ago as I went to work my daughter, Sophia stood on our front porch crying, “Don’t leave me daddy.” I knelt down, looked her in the eyes; and said, “I won’t leave you. You will be the one to leave me someday. You will go to college. You will marry, and leave me.” Somehow, the tears left and we giggled at each other.

Our lives have had many such farewells – tears, separation, and distance. At times it was thousands of miles and years. At times it was only a few miles and hours. Yet for each farewell a reunion came.

Jana has remarked that it these farewells are often the most difficult for the one left behind. The one who leaves enters into the world of anticipation becoming reality. The one who stays grieves the loss.

The easiest thing to do is to avoid the farewells. In fact, I’ve become a master at loud celebratory “Welcome Homes,” and quiet drift away goodbyes.

Life demands that we wake up each morning and step out of our house door to find the hope of a new day. Hope springs courage. Reunion brings joy.

A few weeks ago, startling news came on Christmas Eve. Our friend, Eustache Nsinga had passed from this life to another. I’ve lost a few family members whose life was full and well lived. With their passing though full of loss there was also a sense of content fulfillment. I’ve lost a few friends whose presence on earth has never been replaced. They left this earth at a young age when our shared future was one of great promise. Eustache was one such friend. A temptation is for the grief to be full of anger as we ask the question of, “Why?”

Yet, Eustache and I share a faith in the Resurrection of Jesus. With that faith comes a hope that a new day is coming. On that day our bodies shall be free from the wounds of this earth. We shall have a resurrection body.

I only knew Eustache after an accident left him walking with a cane. The next time I see him he will walk with the vigor of youth. The cane will be no more.

The hope of that day allows me to giggle. Our farewell was one of hope.

Eustache’s funeral had speeches that I will never forget. He was a man who served and loved deeply. His principles remain eternal.

There was one moment in our farewell that made me giggle. Eustache was a big man. His large body contained an extra large sense of joy. He was a soldier by profession. The men he served with physically strong. I stood at the entrance way to CCR as his body was carried into the assembly. As his comrades lifted his body for a brief moment their faces lost the sense of calm grief and were filled with the looks of physical strain. Quickly they balanced themselves, restored their demeanor, and with dignity carried Eustache’s body for our viewing.
I imagined in heaven, Eustache looked down upon our grief and attempts at dignity and laughed hard. I giggled silently in memory of his joy and our shared hope. The last acts of Eustache’s old body would bring us giggles. The next time I see him we will dance in new bodies. Laughter trumps grief.

It is this silly hope in the resurrection that wakes me each morning. I pray. I run. I labor. I love. I laugh.

On this earth, the hope of the resurrection motivates me to build. I want this earth to be filled with the Lord’s goodness. Families should thrive. Children should go to school. Our lives should declare all that God created is good.

For the last 17 years, Sophia and I shared our giggle. “You will leave me,” one of us would say. The future of each day had a moment of separation. Who was leaving who? Yet, we would reunite.

Last year as we pondered Sophia attending university while we remained in Rwanda an illogical thought crossed my mind. When I say goodbye to Sophia it could be the last time. Yet, logic and humor overcame. Our separations of this earth are only temporary. With each one we separated because of new hope.

Sophia would go to Wheaton College. We believed her future there would be good.
On Friday, September 9, I had lunch with Sophia, took her to her dorm, and we said, “Goodbye.” I was about to walk to the car. She remarked, “I was right. You did leave me, dad. I’m standing here. You are leaving for Rwanda.” We giggled. We may have shed a tear, but they were tears of hope. Laughter trumped grief.

Over the Christmas holidays Sophia was with us in Rwanda. This was our farewell together to our home in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. We worshiped. We celebrated. We grieved. We rested at our traditional retreat on Lake Kivu. Then we said farewell. Sophia left on a plane. We were the ones who remained. Yet we giggled.

Another day is coming. We are full of hope.

God willing in five months most of our possessions of this earth will be sold. I will preach sermons, teach classes, worship in vernacular, and perform the rituals of humanity in Rwanda with all my strength before our sojourn to the Great Lakes Region of America begins. I will leave home. I will return to home. I will long for a home where I dance with my grandparents, Eustache, and my Lord.

My parents will meet us at an airport. We will embrace and cry again.
A new journey will begin. Our call requires for us to serve in America while our hearts are in Africa. My heroes of faith have walked the same path before. We are entering a season to call others to our lives in Africa.

There will be tears. They are tears of hope. Our farewells are temporary. We live in hope for a new day.