|Senator and friend, Marguerite Nyagahura with our foster son, Gabe|
There were many privileges the Lord gave us during our season in East Africa. One of the greatest ones was joy in our friendships with the African people with whom we served. We had a few furloughs where we returned to the United States wounded by religious charlatans. We know missionaries whose return to the United States came during a season of wounding that created Afro pessimism and spiritual bitterness. Yet, in our departure from Africa’s Great Lakes we had an immense sense of fulfillment. The institutions we labored to build were stronger than our charisma. They endure. Also, our friendships blossomed. Those we shepherded blessed us. We are immensely grateful.
Our missionary calling is a unique spiritual gift. We believe to be a missionary is to be one sent from one’s earthly home by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of making disciples and developing churches. That call means over time we become a cultural insider who is never completely at home. Thus we’re prophetic in holding leaders accountable while pastoral in building institutions that bless coming generations until the Lord returns. This calling is from the Holy Spirit. It is never about economic power, race, or national origin. Only a few will hear a missionary call. Yet, the call is never restricted to those from certain earthly privileges.
We believe all cultures need missionaries in their midst. We observed that over time the missionary vocation became a great source of social strength in East Africa. Our heritage not only developed churches. We built schools and scholarship programs. We counseled diverse national leaders. We helped the poorest of the poor and most vulnerable.
Our family believes our new call is to serve the Diaspora from Africa’s Great Lakes who are in North America. We believe we are doing what missionaries always do. The Lord is leading us to new niches that most do not see. A typical weekend for us involves going to social functions of Diaspora in Chicago. Sometimes we know someone at the function. Yet, sometimes it is simple beginning introductions.
We usually say these words, “We are very thankful for the 19 years the Lord gave us as adults in East Africa. He put a missionary gift in our heart. We believe we are still to be missionaries even when we return to the USA.”
|Paulin Byusa, Ame Ishimwe, Joseph Masengeshu, Joris Manzi at Commemoration|
“I went to a missionary school.”
“A missionary sponsored me and found a scholarship for me to study abroad.”
“A missionary baptized me.”
“A missionary performed my wedding.”
“A missionary prayed for me (or my child, nephew, niece, grandchild, etc…) when I was sick and I was healed.”
“A missionary counseled a difficult situation in our community and brought unity.”
“A missionary kept my mom safe during a season of turmoil and strife.”
We are immensely thankful for such a heritage. Yet this heritage is not one to hoard. It calls us to see new community needs, and initiate. In the process we make many mistakes. Yet, God’s grace goes far beyond our failings. Thus the Lord is glorified.
In April as Rwanda faced the month of mourning the tragedy of the 1994 Genocide we sensed it was time to pastorally initiate a commemoration. As it closed a few Diaspora told us thank you. The Chicago Rwanda Genocide Memorial would not have happened without a missionary in the Diaspora midst.
We then spoke something that our missionary elder statesman once said to us.
“Don’t give me any honor for this. It was just a missionary thing to do. The honor needs to go to the Holy Spirit which called us. All this call is about is discerning when the community has a need that can only be met by an outsider understanding enough to initiate.
You can be a missionary too. You are away from home. America needs you to be a missionary to them. You will return to your African home someday. When you return go as a missionary. Be a Holy Spirit inspired starter.”
To one thankful Diaspora mom we said, “Again this is no big deal. It is just a missionary
call. The Holy Spirit
may call your children to be missionaries too.
If so, bless your children in that call.”
|Diaspora kids - Christian, Zam, and Aisha sharing a meal in our home|
This is pure missionary joy. We empathetically understand these old missionary words generations upon generations have repeated,
"I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your family are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other (2 John 1:4-6, The Message with a little tweak.)"