Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Letter in the Mail

Dave and Jan walking in the Fall in Wheaton
Fundamentally, missionary callings are very personal.    God speaks.  He asks for us to go.   The call is tested in community.  Friends and family send.   The missionary arrives, preaches, and lives are changed. 

Sometimes the changes come so fast it is almost impossible to communicate back to the senders in a personal way.   We’re in a season that though “overwhelming" has given us time to reflect and communicate more personally. 

The last week, we’ve done something we have not done in years.   We did it because all of those involved in our African journey are important.   We’ve hand addressed, stamped, signed (and frequently wrote a p.s.) to our entire snail mail postal mailing list.    

If you are on the mailing list you should get the following letter with our prayer card.  If you are not on the mailing list and would like our prayer card please send us your postal address. We’re in a season where we need your prayers and support as much as we did in 1993 when we entered Uganda and in 2005 when we entered Rwanda.  

Thank you for sharing this journey with us,

Dave and Jana

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement that sustained us for 19 years in Africa’s Great Lakes.   Enclosed is a magnetic prayer card.   Please place it in a visible place, and remember to keep our family in your prayers.

One word that can describe our call to return to the USA is “overwhelming.”   An older and wiser missionary than ourselves, Alan Avery described his feelings of having his young family scattered on 2 continents as “it felt like death.”   Our last year in Rwanda felt that way with Sophia being in the USA.  It was a season in which God opened our spirits of the need to return to the USA so that we may best nurture our family.

As we returned it caused us to pause and remember God’s goodness.   Again it was overwhelming.

In 19 Years in Africa's Great Lakes we experienced 2 nations of day by day labor, 2 church plants, 1 school start, 3 1/2 years at Monitor FM, 6 years writing for FOCUS, 200 children sponsored by Christian Relief Fund, 300 Presidential Scholars, 2,000 university students in lectures, 10 adoptions facilitated, volunteering with Kampala Kids’ League, a difficult to remember  numbers of baptisms, baby dedications, weddings, and funerals;  countless friends, and ONE SOVEREIGN PROVIDENTIAL MYSTERIOUS GOD!!

Many spoke blessings on our transition to the USA.  

Leila Merritt Sewell wrote, “Congratulations on closing out this chapter of ministry… Looking forward to seeing what's in the next chapter ...”

Dwayne Guthrie wrote, “You guys will be in our prayers as God turns another chapter in your Christ following journey. I'm sure it will be an exciting read just like the previous chapters.”

Stan Paregien wrote, “I have an idea your most productive days are still ahead of you. But you have certainly made a great contribution to the church in Africa and to the kingdom of God in general.

Missionary colleague Rebekah Donaldson wrote, “Now to see what He does with you for the rest of your time on Earth! God Bless you all!”

Younger Cashes and Jenkins in mid 1990's at Kampala Church of Christ
Missionary colleague, Cheryl Cash wrote, You were the very first smiles I saw when we pushed through the Entebbe airport doors.  Two very white faces in a sea of Ugandan community in October 1995. Your hugs were warm and welcome was enthusiastic…. We honor the treasures you’ve tucked away. Memories. The overcoming. The gifts… We pray with joy.   Confident.    That the doors you push through next will bring you to spacious, blessed places.  God promises this.  His abundant provision awaits those who trust in His Name.  It is an honor to serve around His throne with you.” http://www.gentlyled.blogspot.com/2012/06/pushing-through-doors.html

Missionary colleague Brett Shreck wrote, “Today is a time to mark the ending of your ministry here at Christ’s Church Rwanda and the beginning of your ministry in the Chicago area… Together we have served the Lord and shared in each other’s joys and sorrows… You will take comfort in the knowledge that His plan is one to prosper you  His plan gives you a hope and a future…   Your family will be blessed with righteousness by faith from generation to generation forever more.”

Isaac Sanyu with a young Ruth at the Kampala Church of Christ
Our Ugandan colleague Isaac Sanyu wrote, “And those seeds will keep growing for generations to come, the journey is just beginning. God is good!!!!

Rwanda’s Director General in the Ministry of Local Government and good friend, Fred Mufulukye wrote, “As the Word of God says, "there is time for everything", this is indeed true, we are going to have time without you, without your wisdom and guidance, without surprise calls and door knocks, without, without.... We shall miss you …. May God's love, guidance, grace, providence.....be with you wherever you will go.”

One of Rwanda’s newest Senators, and our friend and CCR colleague, Marguerite Nyagahura wrote, Thanks for your beautiful words and indeed your prayers... I feel so honored and humbled to be in such a great position to serve my country. …  I truly believe my meeting with both of you was not a mere coincidence. I have now confirmed more than ever before that the Lord sent you to prepare me for this moment. Dave - when I returned to Rwanda you were the first person that put a microphone in my hands and pushed me on stage when I had no confidence in myself… Jana - thank you so much for being such an inspiration and role model, but most of all for being my friend and loving me as I am…. Praise be to our Lord!”

John Osborne the ROC Board Chairperson and friend wrote, “Dave, Jana, and their children continue to see God’s blessings as they discover new friends in the Chicago area.  … In the near future, the ROC Board will be hosting a special reception for the Jenkins to express our appreciation to them for their faithful service.  Please join the ROC Board in expressing our heartfelt appreciation for the Jenkins family.  We bless you Dave, Jana, Sophia, Caleb, Ethan, Ruth, and Timothy!  You mean more to us than you’ll ever know.” http://www.rocpartners.org/_blog/ROC_Blog/post/September_with_ROC/

Alexis Hixson and Ruth
The season of grief as we left Rwanda was so overwhelming that at times all we could do was sit still.   Communication escaped us.     Thank you so many for your memories and blessings upon our family as we transition to the USA.

We are still missionaries.   We are still with ROC.   ROC is a new organization.   Yet it is based on the historic “faith missions.”   There is no endowment.   There is no guaranteed salary.   ROC’s personnel are dependent fully upon God for our sustenance.    God is the master creator so we many times also create.   Yet, there is a principle that where one’s treasure rests is where one’s heart rests (Matthew 6:20-22).   Thus we ask for others to share in meeting our family’s financial needs as a way of investing in the kingdom of God through the ministries of ROC.

In 2010 our family depleted all of our savings and retirement to pay for our medical expenses when we both had surgeries.   A little over 4 months ago, we sold all of our earthly possessions except our most treasured memories to pay for our settling in the USA.   After we used the proceeds of our sale to pay bills in Rwanda, and bless our community we had $7,000 in pocket.   We estimated we would need $30,000 to settle.  We now could use your help.

Jan, Debra (Carr), Jana (Jenkins), and Wade in Kenya in 1970's
We are moving forward believing God has called us to be a missionary in the USA.    Can you help us as a financial partner?   Can you make a one-time gift to our settling expenses?

If so write a check to ROC Partners with Jenkins in the memo and mail it to

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

Thank you for sharing this journey with us.     
 Mungu akubariki (God bless you),

Dave and Jana

Friday, October 12, 2012


Two matters have captured my attention that last few days.   First, the American election is upon us.   The banter is the most partisan I can ever remember.   Two, our friend, Marguerite Nyagahura, was just appointed to Rwanda’s Senate.

                Our missionary calling is to be an outside in voice.   That means we know other cultures well enough that we can speak to places in which the Gospel must speak.   It also means that we have enough initiative to move past words to actually get things done.    All of that makes most nod their heads.    Yet, it also means us missionary types will never fit completely within any culture.   Heaven is our home.

                Because God has placed a missionary calling in our hearts we must speak.    American partisans you are off base.    If you are willing to listen I propose you look to older more enduring ways for an answer.   My friend, Marguerite’s journey is an example of that older more enduring way.

                There is nothing wrong with politics.    One of my friends during our Rwanda season was Dr. Paul Kaiser, who worked with USAID in promoting civil society and good governance.    He defined politics as “affiliation based upon policy preference.”   The definition is neutral.   It implies that it politics is a process in which individuals form community around their beliefs about what is best for their community.   In fact, the definition calls us to the best of humanity as we seek to display what it means to be made in the image of God.

                When most of us complain about “politics” what we are really complaining about is “partisan” behavior.   The dictionary defines partisan as “a fervent, sometimes militant supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.”

Our friend, Honorable Marguerite Nyagahura taking Oath of Office
                A little over two years ago, a friend of mine from seminary (grad school) days at Abilene Christian University, Todd Bouldin noticed that I was frequently discussing a theme of the Christian’s place in the development of institutions.   At the time I was struggling to find a contemporary Christian writer who was discussing the same issues (though I could find abundant bible, history, political, and economic writing.)   Todd suggested I read James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2010).   It took me a year to pick up a copy, and several months to read through it with all my highlights, questions, dog ears, and rereads.   Thank you Todd for pointing me in a direction that gave me philosophic tools to explain what had been years of intuition meeting frustration.    (The following is mine, but a plagiarism check would see I’ve been heavily influenced by Hunter.)

                I have voted most of my adult life.   If you follow my voting patterns you will note I usually vote for the Ducks Unlimited (DU) endorsed candidate.   That means my vote usually goes to a political conservative who wishes the best for children in a world full of clean rivers, forests, and wetlands.   Usually it is Republican, but I’ve voted Democrat when I thought it was in my kid’s best interest.   My contemporary problem is that the Ducks Unlimited (DU) favorable candidates are getting more difficult to find.   Facebook and twitter banter among my believing friends is no help for my DU leaning agenda.

Ducks Unlimited Jenkins' Slough Winter Board Meeting '89
                The most prevalent evangelical partisan position seems to be the Christian Right.    I agree with its emphasis on personal responsibility.   I agree with its emphasis on the sanctity of life.   It also fits well with how casual observers first place my tribal affiliation – educated, white, male evangelical.   Yet, I’m troubled.    I don’t see a contemporary Howard Baker like figure who when caught between party loyalty and love for the USA constitution can say, “What did the president know and when did he know it?" (http://www.wate.com/story/16933998/howard-baker-explains-the-views-behind-his-key-role-in-the-watergate-hearings.)   I also note how difficult it is for my evangelical clan mates who don’t share my skin color to feel welcome among the Christian Right.  This becomes particularly troubling for me as I hear the banter about immigrants as I’ve been a “foreigner” most of my adult life.    The comfort I find in Bible narratives that affirm refugees, sojourners, and aliens is a rarity with the Christian Right.   Lastly, I can’t fit the Christian Right’s views of the environment into a compatible thought system with my reading of the Pentateuch.   

                Another less prevalent partisan position is the Christian Left.    Here my clan mates who do not share my skin color feel greater welcome.    Here my concerns for balancing justice and mercy to immigrants are met.    Here my application of the Pentateuch’s teaching on stewarding the earth feels welcome.    Yet, I’m troubled.   Too often to stir emotions the victim card is played.   In the process, personal responsibility is negated.   The list of concerns about personal responsibility and the Christian Left take many turns, but one of the most troubling ones for me in the contemporary world is all of the implications of same sex marriage.    Also, my views of personal responsibility are part of the theological reason I am so consistently pro-life.    I’ve got a history of loving all kids, in all their varieties including both born and unborn.

 I find myself with the Christian Left just like the Christian Right in an awkward place in which I conclude,” I cannot participate in your partisan machine and banter so help me God.”

A third option is taken by many of my evangelical clan mates on Facebook of Pietism.   It usually starts of by threatening to “hide,” or even “de-friend” their colleagues who wade into the partisan banter.   Then it takes the next step of labeling “politics matters of this world that Christians must rise above.”   Usually, the final step is a call to prayer, and “trusting in the Sovereign will of God.”   

Where are our contemporary prophets?
The only problem with partisan Pietism is that it is extra-biblical reasoning.    I once heard a wise missionary call this “pseudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo.”    If you quickly skim through the Old Testament you have Law in which God tries to bring order through policy to a dysfunctional extended family called Israel.   Then you get to History with such notable titles as 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, and 2 Chronicles in which we see the guidance of God upon Israel’s government.    The nation is full of both human dignity and depravity so we have 17 Prophets who fearlessly call Israel back to her covenant with God and one another.   When we reach the Gospels we see John the Baptist confront corrupt religious and political leaders.   We see Jesus teaching rise above the contemporary partisan debate, but He never rebels against political systems of His day.   Then as we read Acts it seems a big point is to show that Christianity is a legal religion.   The stage is set for Christianity in Acts 29 to be an unfinished story of transforming all elements of human endeavor until the Lord returns.  The Bible calls Christ followers to wade into the messiest parts of life which includes the poorest of slums, richest of suburbs, and most partisan political banter.

Pietism seeks to build an earthly utopia.   God’s word is clear.  Perfection does not happen until the Lord returns.    

Until then Jesus’ followers must be engaged.   Hunter calls it faithful presence.    My Facebook political stance is prophetic engagement.     My classic Bible example is Nathan rebuking David (1 Samuel 12).   Nathan was enough of a friend with King David that he could quickly get an audience and drew the king’s attention to gross injustice.   He was also enough of a friend that a powerful king was emotionally broken by his sin.   In this friendship, Nathan was a tool of God to restore what pieces of a fractured leader and nation could be restored.   Many of today dismiss the simple pastoral but prophetic tasks of befriending, praying, teaching truth, and ultimately healing wounds.    Prophet like figures frequently are out of step with partisan power brokers.

Now back to my friend, Marguerite Nyagahura who was just sworn in as one of Rwanda’s new senators.   (For further reading see http://focus.rw/wp/2012/10/president-kagame-appoints-new-senators/ and http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15142&a=59411, http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15143&a=59450.)

Honorable Marguerite Nyagahura, Rose Apolinary, and Jana Jenkins
Again, this is a story primarily of my wise wife, Jana who makes friends where ever she goes.    Her friendship with Marguerite started at a hair salon.   Jana, Sophia, and Ruth needed some care, and found a new hair salon in which Marguerite was a partial owner.   A quick friendship developed.   As both disclosed history we found that we shared many common experiences such as history in Uganda, and had many common friends.   Besides using the word prophetic friendship to describe their relationship, this is also a story of two African Diaspora women who consider skin color irrelevant to friendship.

His Excellency, Rwanda President Paul Kagame with Marguerite's family
As we prepared to launch Christ’s Church in Rwanda (CCR), Marguerite was one of the people Jana invited.   Her family was with us from the beginning.    Marguerite’s family’s journey is a rich one.   Her dad was a contemporary in college with Congo’s first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba.    Her parents, uncles, and aunts were in Gahini, Rwanda when the East African Revival began.    They also were those who fled Rwanda to Uganda during the first waves of Genocide in 1959.   When you meet the bzee (elder statesmen) in her family you quickly recognize they are some of the most humble yet influential individuals to have graced East Africa.   I count it one of my greatest treasures of earth that I met some of them, and they placed their hands upon me, and spoke blessings.

Yet, though Marguerite’s family has a rich heritage of faith her journey like most of her peers was a difficult one of refugee living that frequently bumped up against glass ceilings.    With the many failings of Rwandan churches during the 1994 Genocide many swore never to attend church again.   A few explored with caution.   Yet, the hardest parts of life called one back to faith.    Marguerite and her family joined our CCR journey.

When ROC first assumed ownership of her property the space was far larger than our capacity to use.   We arranged for Marguerite to begin First Impressions Day Care in the CCR basement.    It became a wonderful partnership.   

Marguerite’s journey as a returning Diaspora was part of our journey.   She was elected the Chairman of the 2020 Vision Estate (Gaculiro) Cell (Umudugudu.)   With this came all sorts of responsibilities from sorting out neighbor’s disagreements to maintaining security to monthly Umuganda (Communal Work.)     Dave as a local pastor felt he must attend each Umuganda thus our lives became more entwined with Marguerite’s wisdom.

As our final year in Rwanda became consumed with the Gabriel Mugisha Jacobs’ journey Marguerite was one of Mugisha’s aunties in the final CCR Hand Over of Mugisha to Mark and Chelsea Jacobs.   Marguerite was a key advisor and advocate through that year that nurtured Mugisha from a struggling abandoned child to a thriving child adopted into a forever family in the house of God.

Now, Marguerite’s faithful service to her community has brought the reward of being appointed one of Rwanda’s newest Senators.    She is in our prayers.   We trust that the God who has guided her path for generations will use this season of her leadership to bless many future generations.
Christ's Church of Rwanda newly elected Board of Directors

What does this have to do with contemporary American partisan banter?

I think it sets a model for prophetic engagement.   This is a journey where we human sojourners are not the hero.   If we have done anything good it is that we’ve repeated the paths of old.    Those paths called us to leave what was known and comfortable.   We refused to define our call or people by the easiest markers of humanity such as race, nationality, ethnicity, and denomination or political affiliation.    We befriended.   We did not judge.   We listened.   We taught.   We shared.  We labored.   We were blessed.

I suggest that it is time for America to rise above the failed attempts at utopia by the Christian Right, the Christian Left, and Pietism, and instead practice the old path of prophetic engagement.    Future generations need us to follow these paths of old.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Dear Family and Friends,

God has brought us through 19 years of adjustments.   One of the most shocking was in 1999.   Before 1999 we checked our P.O. Box almost daily for news.   If we needed to make a phone call we had to be in our office which was 30 minutes from home.   On special occasions we would either send a fax, or go to the only phone line in Uganda where after standing in a long line we would have an opportunity to call the USA.   Our communication options were very limited.

Then in a 2 week period of time we had mobile phones, a home phone, internet, and email.   Life has never been the same since.

We miss those old days with fewer distractions, and the warm feel of snail mail.   As we begin the process of connecting again with our friends in the USA we want to send out prayer cards.   (Card is the photo in this blog.)   In fact, it will be a magnet to easily stick to your refrigerator. 

Are you on our snail mail list?   If you have not received snail mail from us in the last year you probably are not.    If you would like to receive a prayer card magnet, please send us your contacts.    We hope to send out prayer cards next week, and look forward to connecting more.

Mungu akubariki (God bless you),

Dave and Jana

P.S.  Jana has started blogging again on One Women's Journey back to her Passport Country.   Her most recent blog on “The Call" can be read http://jana-joyinthejourney.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-call.html

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Catching up with missionary peer, Sam Gonzalez at ACU's Summit
                I have now been out of Rwanda for four months.   I don’t need to be tempered, moderate, nor politically correct.   This season will likely be short.   It is a season of prayer with the opportunity to be prophetically candid.   

                The twitter banter about Rwanda is almost a daily event.   About every two weeks some new expert weighs in.   It seems now is a season for me to speak.    What do I think of contemporary Rwanda?   Let me tell a story.

                During my last few days in Rwanda I had dinner with a member of the foreign diplomatic corp.   Both of us loved Rwanda dearly.   Both of us were nearing the end of our posting.   What did we think?    My friend used a phrase that resonated deeply.   He said, “Rwanda is a nation with 1,000 narratives.   You can assemble many narratives.   All can be true.   Many are contradictory.   Then you can draw the conclusion you want.”

                If we live in the world of shadows and rumors contradictory narratives are abundant.    Shadows are dangerous places and easy to manipulate.   Few of us can accurately know what happens in the world of shadows.    Yet, most of us get a moment where in our area of expertise light shines and we see full truth.

                An area I have seen up close and personal is university education and scholarship programs.   Allow me to construct two contradictory yet true narratives.   

Saying good bye to Presidential Scholar, Pie Fabio Ntagwabira

 I can document exceptional Rwandan university students.   Some come from privileged backgrounds yet many come from the poorest village.    They have succeeded under the most difficult of circumstances.     They come to school tired from poor sleeping conditions, hungry from lack of food, study long hours, volunteer any place they are needed, create ideas beyond their youth, start new businesses, and inspire me at every turn.  They refuse to see the world through the lens of race and ethnicity.   Words such as scholar and entrepreneur are fitting descriptions.   This is a true narrative that I can document.

I can also document rampant plagiarism and forged attendance lists.   I’ve caught students cheating on exams.     I’ve failed many (or at least told them to start over.)    When confronted I’ve been accused of prejudice due to race, ethnicity, heritage, and language preference.   I’ve heard rumors frequently of sexual favors and bribery schemes to get high marks.   A couple times I thought someone was trying to see what I’d trade for marks.   In problems they will choose the easiest possible route without considering the ethical implications.   Words such as conman and prostitute are fitting descriptions of some of these Rwandan students.   This is a true narrative that I can largely document, but you would need to trust me on matters where I did not have a witness.

One thousand true narratives exist in Rwanda.   The choice we face is which narratives are defining.   In every area of life in Rwanda you can find contradictory narratives.   Education, church, business, and government will all provide abundant contradictory narratives.   We can label individuals charlatans or shepherds; crooks or businesspeople; and leaders or thugs.   

Yet, I believe there are four defining narratives.

The first is Creation.    (I’ll avoid debates on science and evolution, and confine my discussion to the nature of man.)    We humans were created in the image of God.   We are full of agaciro not because of a government policy, but because of God’s proclamation.    We are all worthy of respect.   We are intelligent, gifted, creative, and compassionate.   We innately are born with a sense of justice, peace, and grace.   We can overcome any difficulty and forgive any wrong.    Dignity is our destiny.

The second defining narrative is the Fall.    Our dignity was sacrificed by our own choice.    We are totally depraved.     We are full of lust, greed, jealousy, and hate.    We destroy one another, ourselves, and creation.    We have all done things that we keep hidden from others.   Still, we are full of pride.     We are ashamed at who we are, what we have done, and what our future deserves.

The only way I can make sense of the contradiction of Rwandan university students who I can both describe as entrepreneurial scholars on one hand; and prostitutes and conmen on the other is through the defining events of the Creation and the Fall.   In fact, on any university (even Balokole ones) in North America and Europe I can find students with such contradictory narratives.    The contradictory Rwandan narratives are just part of the broad human story of history.   All humanity is full of both dignity and depravity.

The third defining narrative is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.    The only way to deal with our human depravity was for someone to be punished.   In fact, the punishment for such grave offense had to be death.    The UN and human rights watchers could not restore dignity without one being brutalized.    Yet three days after Jesus’ brutal death, He overcame death.   His body came back to life.   He went to heaven to be with our Father, and sent His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.   Only when we accept how depraved we are, but hunger for dignity, put our hope in Jesus’ resurrection, and have the Spirit of God living in us can we become full of the full human dignity God intends.

Yet, we don’t live in Utopia.   Followers of Jesus are still screw ups.    We wrestle every day with our contradictory dignity and depravity.    

Another day is coming that will make everything right.    The fourth defining narrative is Jesus’ return.    All will be judged.   We’ll be found guilty as charged, but then be totally forgiven.     All will be returned to God’s intent.   All will be right at that day.   There will be no sickness or death.   We will be filled with love and peace.

But, what about today?   We are still waiting for that final day.   We have yet to experience the fourth defining narrative.    Historians and pragmatists note that sometimes dignity overshadows depravity, and vice versa.

Maybe, the reason twitter is so busy debating Rwanda’s contemporary predicament is we live in a generational tipping point?    Intuitively, we all seem to know the actions of today’s generations in Rwanda will resonate for many generations that follow.    What will life be like for generations in Rwanda until Jesus returns?   The answer lies in how the scales are tipped from depravity to dignity.    

Two generations of Rwanda are essential.   There is a group that a few jokingly call, “Mzee kijana.  We landed well.   We may have excelled academically, worked hard, and gone through exceptional difficulties.  Yet, we know in the deepest places of our hearts others could do a better job.    We were able to lead because of grace.    We’re younger than our peers in neighboring nations who carry such prestige.   We’re in over our heads.    We work long hours.    The work never ends.    The institution has to be stronger than our charisma.   The temptation is to out of fear stake out our territory and defend it to the end.  

Instead, the mzee kijana has two tasks.   First, he must mentor.   Second, he must relinquish.    He must ask other to follow.   He must teach and model everything he knows.   He must correct with grace yet never leave a task undone.   He can tolerate no ethical compromises.   Then before it seems it is the appropriate time, he must relinquish.   He cannot build a personal kingdom.   

The twitter banter about Rwanda’s leaders until 2017 is just conjecture.   In 2017 we will know the character of Rwanda and her leaders.    Until then those of us labeled bzee must practice the paradoxical virtues of mentoring and relinquishing.    Coming generations of Rwandans leave us no other choice.   As bzee choose to embrace human dignity they mentor and relinquish.

Celebrating KIST 2012 Graduation with Ntabgoba Jovani  
The second generation of essential Rwandans can now be found in schools throughout Rwanda, universities in other nations, and are just now beginning their professional career.     Their task in the generational tipping point is to prepare themselves for leadership.     

There will be several temptations they will face.   For a fortunate few it is “spoiled brat syndrome.”   Their parents have landed well and are quite busy.   The spoiled brats squander their opportunities in academia by spending their evenings and weekends chasing the hottest party.    On the opposite economic spectrum are the “woe is me” syndrome kids.    Their parents have not economically landed well therefore the “woe is me” kids spend their time complaining and nurturing their “victim status.”  If they land well enough to get a twitter account they spend their creative energy complaining instead of building.   However, they share common pastimes with their peers on the other economic spectrum.    Both overdose on self absorbed leisure that does not build their bodies, minds, or spirits.   Both the “spoiled brat” and “woe is me” kids are incredibly dangerous for Rwanda’s future.   They represent the triumph of human depravity.

However, the Rwanda youth who I choose to make my defining narrative pursue human dignity with all the passion of youth.   They read everything they can find.    They get the most of each academic experience.   They come to class early and stay late to pick their professor’s brain.   They master several languages.   They make many friends.   They give of themselves at Umuganda, church, and every other situation they can find that offers them an opportunity to serve their community.    They work when they can find a job.   If they can’t find a job they start creating ones.   The really good ones take the role of mentor when they are still being mentored.   They teach at schools on their vacation, tutor younger siblings and neighbors, and treat knowledge as a treasure to be shared.   Their day to provide leadership is quickly coming.   Their time is spent in preparation.

So what do I think of contemporary Rwanda?   My diplomatic friend is right.   There are 1,000 narratives.    We choose the narrative that best fits our agenda.    My agenda is the dignity of man was part of God’s intention from Creation.   Our depravity at times triumphs.    However, Jesus’ resurrection restores us to God’s intention of dignity.   Now we’re at a generational tipping point.   The commentaries and twitter banter is premature.   The time now is for the bzee to mentor and relinquish.   The time now for the youth is to prepare.

Let’s leave today’s judgment to God’s future.