David Stockwell Evangelistic Association
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Nations

2009 March 18-31 Kigali, Rwanda

Date: 4/5/2009 - 1/1/2015
Time: -

 

THOUGHTS OF RWANDA

As our van turned onto the rocky road and began the final climb to the crusade site at the top of the hill, shouts of “Muzungu!  Muzungu!” began to fill the air.  Children, young people, and young mothers began to appear, as they stopped what they were doing and came out to see the “muzungus” traveling up the hillside.  Pure joy filled the faces of scores of young boys, as they began to run alongside the van with us and tried to peer in to see our white skin and blue eyes up close.
 
Gatsibo Refugee Camp in northeastern Rwanda is home to over 10,000 people who were bused in from Congo to escape terror and civil war in their country.  Their homes now dot the hillside of this verdant valley, mud houses and huts made of dark red clay bricks they have fashioned themselves.  Roofs are made of thatch and tin sheeting, and some are surrounded with white plastic sheeting bearing the stamp of the United Nations, which provides this place for them, along with monthly loads of firewood and one water pump.
 
Many of the children, as well as the older men and women, show signs of malnutrition, worms, and skin disease.  Their eyes are bloodshot and watery.  They are gaunt and dirty.  And yet, as we continued up that hillside, they were smiling and laughing, waving, following us, wondering why the muzungus had come.  The Lord spoke clearly to me:  “This is why I have sent you here.”  Tears came to my eyes as I saw those little children running, laughing, shouting, following us up the hill.
 
Our “stage” was a crudely-built platform, made of sticks and rough-edged boards, with three boards more than two feet apart posing as “steps.”  Orange plastic sheeting had been laid to cover the floor of the stage. Thin tree trunks formed the four corners of the stage; between the two on the backside hung our banner “David Stockwell CityCelebration.”  Four chairs and a small table had been brought from town, and set for us on the stage.  The sound system had been brought in on a truck from more than three hours away in Kigali, and set up with a generator providing power.
 
We alighted from the van, with hundreds of eyes staring at the muzungus, trying to see and get closer.  Men from the camp had been given the job of “security,” and were using thin sticks as switches to hold people back from the roped-off area.  Still, little children were wandering in and about, looking, staring, playing, wondering.
 
We moved to the stage area; I handed off my iPod and sound cable to the sound technician, with whom we had worked the week before at our Pastors’ Conference – gratefully, I had already shown him how to “work it,” so I was fairly confident that he would understand my instruction.  As clearly as I could, I told him, “First, I will sing ‘O Magnify;’ then, I will speak briefly.  Then, let the next two songs run without stopping. No breaks. Okay?”  “Okay!  Yes!”  He smiled and disappeared into the crowd.
 
A church group from Kigali had come to the crusade site to join us in this effort to reach these people for the first time with the Gospel.  They were already singing and worshipping as we arrived.  The refugees had gathered in an orderly semi-circle around the stage area, most of whom had climbed the hillside, carrying their own wooden benches with them on which to be seated.  According to their custom, the men were on one side, the women on the other.  Children and young people were standing around the back and sides.  
 
We carefully mounted those ungainly steps to the stage area; two wireless mikes were handed to our host, Bishop Joseph Karasanyi, who oversees fifty-two churches in Rwanda, and to me.  Bishop Joseph began the introduction of David and me, along with our Staff Evangelist, Scott Nute, our NEST Uganda leader, Apollo Kabaale, and his brother, Joseph Kabaale, who had driven from Uganda with our DSEA Uganda vehicle, to join us for this mission.   
 
I looked out over the people and saw the women, dressed in their best, with brightly colored fabric turbans and wrap-around skirts; men dressed in jackets and ties, though ragged and torn.  A wave of regret washed over me as I remembered how frustrated I was the night before that there was no hot water for our shower.  What is that, in comparison to the way these people live every day?  I was ashamed of myself.  Our interpreter and new friend, Grace Kiiza, a young woman from Kigali, joined us on the stage.  Then, the microphone was handed to me.
 
As I stood there center stage and looked out over the people, I marveled at the beauty of the green and rolling hills surrounding us on all sides.  The sun was shining through silver and white clouds in the wide open sky.  It was hot and breezy.  I thought of the vision the Lord had given me as I prayed one morning about one month prior to our departure for Rwanda; myself, standing on this stage, looking out to the hills, seeing the small houses wrapped in white sheeting, and a white cloud or mist settling over the entire area.  The Lord had given me a glimpse of what He was going to do here – an outpouring of His Spirit in this place.  And here I stood, with that very vision before me.  
 
Do we doubt that God sends us forth for His purposes?  Do we doubt that we can be used for His glory?  Do we really believe that He has plans for people; that He sees every person, and desires that all should come to know Him?  Do we really believe that the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross was shed for all people, even refugees in a far-away camp on the border of a Rwandan hillside?   
 
Grace took the mike from Bishop Joseph, and began to interpret for me as I spoke.  
 
“We have come to tell you that God loves you.  He has a wonderful plan for your life.  God is the Creator; He made the earth, the moon and stars, the sun.  He created this beautiful valley, and He created you. You are special to Him.  His Name is Elohim, the Great Creator.  He is Mighty and Strong. His Name is Jehovah God – the Great I Am That I Am.  He is Life and Breath. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Before the foundation of the world, He knew you.  He loves you; you are His creation.  We are here to lift up the mighty Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!"
 
Then, I sang “O Magnify The Lord,” “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High,” and “Celebrate Jesus.”  We worshipped together, as I had the privilege of introducing to them some of our favorite and most powerful praise music, including, “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord,” “Breathe,” “How Great Thou Art,” “We Shall Behold Him,” and several others.  As Grace interpreted for me, I encouraged her to give them the words to the songs, before I sang as well as while I was singing.  They heard in their language the awesome words, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord – I want to see You!  To see You high and lifted up, shining in the light of Your glory!  Pour out Your power and love, as we sing holy, holy, holy!”  
 
I picked up the word for “holy” in Kinya-rwandan – Weda (pronounced weh-dah.)  As I sang, “Weda, weda, weda ….weda, weda, weda,” the power of God fell and moved through that place.  Weda, weda, weda – HOLY!  Holy, holy, holy!  God’s holiness and power is tangible and real!  The people began to sing with me, “Weda, weda, weda…weda, weda, weda…weda, weda, weda…”  Oh, what an awesome moment!  What an honor and privilege to be in that place!  God’s presence was there – so real, so mighty, so powerful!  
 
Then, David began to preach.
 
“God’s Only Son Jesus died on the Cross for you!  He was beaten, laughed at, ridiculed.  They tore the beard from His face and the blood of Jesus flowed.  They whipped Him, scourged Him, ripped the flesh from His back, and the blood of Jesus ran down His back.  They crucified the Only and Perfect Lamb, the precious and mighty Son of God, for your sin and for mine.  
 
“They took a nail and nailed the hand of Jesus to the Cross, and the blood of Jesus flowed.  They took a nail, and put it into the other hand of Jesus, and the precious blood of Jesus flowed.  They nailed His feet to the Cross, and the blood of Jesus flowed down.  They crucified Him – they killed Him – they crushed the Only Begotten Son of God.  For your sin, and for mine.  
 
“You may not feel like your life is very important…you may not feel like anybody really cares for you.  But my friend, God loves you!  Jesus Christ died on the Cross for you!  He paid the price for our sin – He paid the penalty for our sinfulness, our selfishness, our pride.  What a high price He paid!  For you, and for me!  Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God, hung on the Cross, between heaven and hell, because God loves you and God loves me!    
 
“Satan, the devil, thought he had won.  Satan thought he had crushed the Lord Jesus.  The first day, He was dead.  The second day, He was dead.  But the third day…oh, the third day!  The third day, in the most well-proven fact of all of ancient history, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose from the grave!  He conquered sin and death!  He rose from the grave, and Jesus is alive!  Jesus is alive!  Jesus is alive!  Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”
 
Shouts of “Hallelujah!” began to fill the camp.  Joyful faces and smiles began to break out.  The saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ began to sweep through the place.  One man on the front row stood and came to kneel on the hard, rocky ground at the front of the stage, his eyes and hands lifted up, trembling.  Others began to stand and come forward.  Men and women came to the front, all kneeling on the rocky ground, bowing before the Lord Jesus.  David continued the call to repentance from sin, and commitment to following the Lord Jesus, to opening the doors of their hearts to receive Him as Savior and Lord.  The response was overwhelming.  Bishop Joseph continued the altar call in their language, and led them as they prayed.
 
Hundreds of adults prayed the sinners’ prayer, and over the three-day period, the Gospel was preached to several thousand people, and untold numbers of children and young people.  Our team members witnessed, testified and preached to the crowd as well.  Scott gave his testimony and preached on the second day, as well as Apollo.  Scott also taught and trained them on how to witness and tell others about Jesus.  I had the opportunity to testify and share about some things God has done in my life as well.  Throughout the event, the Lord Jesus was honored and lifted up, and the Name of Jesus glorified.  
 
On the final day of the crusade, while we had hoped and prayed with Bishop Joseph that a church could be established in the camp - that maybe forty or fifty, maybe sixty or even seventy people would come together to form a church – we were stunned and overwhelmed to hear that twelve hundred people from the camp gathered that morning with the Bishop, saying they wanted to become a church.  The group was divided in two – one to meet on the east side of the camp under a tree, the other to meet on the west.  Six pastors from Kigali and towns near the camp have been given the charge under the Bishop’s leadership to begin teaching and training these brand new church members.  DSEA will have the honor of providing funds to purchase a plot of land in the camp where one of the churches will be established.
 
The crusade encompassed only three days of our fourteen-day mission in Rwanda.  How can I adequately describe to you all that happened?  How can I express the joy of our two-day Pastors’ Conference, where more than one hundred pastors were equipped and trained in evangelism, spiritual warfare, and worship?  Some of them came from several hours away, riding buses and public transportation to come to Ebenezer House Deliverance Church to learn and grow… they spent the night on mats on the ground and concrete floors of the church, and awoke the next morning to enjoy the treat of hot coffee and bread for breakfast, and another day of worship and training.  It was our joy, too, to provide a good, hot lunch and dinner for them on those two days.
 
We drove several hours on two consecutive days, across the mountains, to the northwest side of Rwanda to minister in schools in the Ginsenyi district.  We spoke to students about drug and alcohol abuse, about purity, sexual immorality, and AIDS, and preached the Gospel to them.  Many hundreds prayed with us to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  We also spoke to students in the Kigali area, and witnessed to many people in restaurants, taxi cabs, and other public places.  
 
We had the privilege of setting up our new DSEA NEST (National Evangelist Support Team) Rwanda team, which will be headed by Bishop Joseph, and will include Grace Kiiza, the first woman on one of our national teams, along with four other men who will evangelize and work in strategic areas of the country.  We left behind three Half-Mile Hailers (small portable sound systems), cords, batteries and microphones, for the NEST Rwanda team to use as they go forward in field evangelism.  DSEA will also provide funds for the purchase of sturdy mountain bikes, so that the evangelism team can transport themselves to some of these areas which are difficult to reach, and will begin sending monthly support, to help them with food, clothing, shelter, internet, transport, and other ministry expenses.
 
We also visited one of the genocide memorials, where more than two hundred fifty thousand people are buried.  We were stunned, sobered, horrified to see video, photos, press releases, testimonies of family members of those who had been so cruelly murdered, tortured, raped, killed, and maimed in the terror of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 of over one million people.  Anger, horror, and sadness welled up within us as we saw the evidence of the terror of those days in the forms of machetes, rifles, chains, ripped and bloody clothing, bones, and graves.  Even women, children, and babies were slaughtered with a vengeance.  Many family members of our hosts were murdered during those days.  Oh, God…what these people have endured.  Oh, God…how Your heart must grieve over the evil that men do, over the domain of terror that Satan wants to rule on this earth.
 
So…Mission Kigali, Rwanda.  You helped send us…you prayed for the people of Rwanda.  You gave, and made it possible for us to travel and to preach, to bring them the Good News of the love of Christ.  Your giving bought the fuel, paid for the transport and rental of the sound system.   You gave so that we could purchase, ship, and distribute 1,000 New Testaments and 10,000 salvation tracts throughout the country.   You gave so that Grace Kiiza could join us and travel with our team for nine days.  
 
Grace Kiiza…26 years old, as powerful and dynamic a speaker as we have ever encountered.  Grace…saved at 14 when a Rwandan pastor came to her school and preached about Jesus.  Grace, whose family rejected her when she gave her heart to Christ…who fasted and prayed for weeks, asking God to provide for her, and to help her family to come to know Him.  Grace, who prayed for a baby who was foaming at the mouth and whose eyes were rolling back in her head, who died in Grace’s arms, and was brought back to life as Grace prayed and asked God to give life back to the baby.  Grace, whose brother, uncle and five cousins were murdered during the genocide.  Grace…a Bible College graduate, attending university in the evening, and ministering and working wherever she can during the day.  Grace, whose fiancé will work for another nine months before he can provide the dowry of four cows, which he must pay to her family before he can marry her.  Grace Kiiza, a powerful woman of God, and my new daughter in the Lord.  We began calling her “Amazing Grace!”  
 
Then, there is the incredible story of how God raised up Bishop Joseph Karasanyi and his wife, Rose, to lead this team and to be such incredible spiritual leaders in Rwanda.  Both Joseph and Rose are Rwandans whose families fled to Uganda in the early sixties to escape a similar type of political situation as the Congolese refugees.  
 
Joseph was given away as a child to a Muslim judge, and was raised in the judge’s Muslim household basically as a slave.  At 17, he prayed a prayer one night, not knowing anything about God or Jesus except what he had learned under the judge’s tutelage as a Muslim – Joseph prayed one night, “God, I do not want to be lost.  Please, show me Your Way.”  Joseph had a dream that night in which the Lord Jesus appeared to him, looked at him with love, filled his mind’s eye with light, and reached out and touched his chest – his heart.  Joseph awoke from the dream knowing that he had been visited by Jesus, the One True God.  He found a Bible that someone had given him years before and began to read in John; he read the scripture for two weeks, and gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ.
 
Rose, his wife, was a small girl when her family escaped from Rwanda to a refugee camp in Uganda, and lived in a grass hut with a low door with fifteen other people for the first twenty-one years of her life.  She was introduced to Christ through the teaching of others in the camp.  Rose and Joseph returned to Rwanda in 1994, just a few months after the genocide, with a dream of planting a church there, and telling others about Christ.  It took them nearly four years to establish just one church of thirty people.  But, in the past ten years, God has miraculously allowed them to plant fifty-two Bible-believing churches all over Rwanda.  And, with your help and prayer, that number is now fifty-four.
 
What a mission.  What an adventure!  I am so grateful that God sent me, sent us, to Rwanda.  And I am so grateful for you, our friends, and our family…for the love and support you give us as we go forth in this ministry to which God has called us.  Thank you for helping us, for supporting our ministry, and for praying.  God did amazing, awesome, incredible, marvelous, wonderful things.  Only in eternity will we begin to see and know and understand all that He did during this time.
 
We love you, and thank God for you.  We are asking the Lord Jesus to bless you, to touch you, to fill you with His love and purpose, and to use you for His glory.
 
AMY STOCKWELL
APRIL 1, 2009
PSALM 149:1-4
 
“Praise the Lord!  Sing to the Lord a new song.  And His praise in the assembly of saints.  
 
“Let Israel rejoice in their Maker.  Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
 
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”
 
 
 

 

   

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