RWANDA WEEK/ “Dust to Glory”
God Gold of the Day
“He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s,
and he has set the world in order.”
-1 Samuel 2:8
“1 Then Hannah prayed:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong.2:1 Hebrew has exalted my horn.
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you rescued me.
2 No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.”
-1 Samuel 2:1-2
I ran across these verses from 1 Samuel earlier coming from Hannah’s prayer. Hannah was in a situation where she had no kids, she wanted desperately to have kids for her husband and it wasn’t happening. Her husbands other wife, (things were different in these days), she had many children for him but Hannah, facing all that pressure from this other wife, had zero. This prayer from Hannah comes after another prayer that she had spoke to the Lord. Even after many times of praying before, Hannah, in her desperation and dependence on the Lord cried out to God, offering herself and a lifetime of service for her child. Her faith shined so brightly as she gave up everything for her son to have this life, a son that which, from the looks of it, she will never have. But she had faith and here in chapter 2, Hannah is crying out in praise of the Lord and the child He has brought into her life! The answer of her prayers and the impossible being made reality from God’s mighty hand!!! What an awesome God we serve!!!!
Before my trips to Rwanda and even when we first got there, I was still somewhat clueless at all the background behind this school we were serving at and this organization we were serving, “Reach the Children of Rwanda International.” Also known as, RCRI. Over two trips I began picking up more and more of the story behind it all, how it got started and what RCRI stands for. I had the chance in my first moments in Rwanda to have a car ride with the leader and founder of RCRI, and to be honest I didn’t even know it was him. I remember the conversation with him and the other members of our team as we drove through the hills of Rwanda to get to where we were staying. I remember thinking mostly, “geez, this guy’s words are so wise, he speaks with so much kindness, love and humility.” The more he spoke, the more my ears perked up to listen. This is Ben. The guy who began this whole story and if you spend any amount of time with him, you soon realize that he is the type of person that you want to listen to because when he speaks, it’s more than worth hearing.
A lot like Hannah, Rwanda had faced many years of trial, pain, and desperation. I don’t know if you’ve heard much about the “Rwanda Genocide” or not? I hadn’t until this trip and it’s a lot. Over the week I’ll do my best to share details of what happened and I am going to post a video below of what took place so you can better understand where this country and these people of Rwanda had been. It’s the most heartbreaking history lesson I’ve ever heard. The death and darkness that took place there, the families torn apart and brutally murdered, there’s no way words could ever describe the magnitude of how bad the genocide was. Coming from the United States, I honestly had no clue that this kind of evil existed but unfortunately it did and still does in many places on this earth.
I remember another car ride with Ben on the way to the school that first week in Rwanda. I was with my new found buddy, Greyson, who was also pursuing a life serving the Lord in ministry. You best believe from the little we had already heard about Ben and from him, along with our desire to know more about Rwanda and RCRI, we asked a lot of questions. Ben opened up to us and gave us all the answers we could ever hope for and gosh, was it a lot. He told us some parts of his story, a school teacher in Rwanda for many years as he pursued to teach and spend time building up kids. He mentioned that there were so many “street kids” at this time, practically orphans, because their parents had been killed during the genocide. That alone breaks my heart to hear of kids having to live that way, no home, no parents, just the streets. He then, mentioned how everyday for a few weeks or months, sorry I’m going off notes I took while in Rwanda and I didn’t get all the details but just bare with me. He had seen these same kids for quite a few days consistently and began bringing them into his classroom to teach them after school. He saw they were getting no education, no food, but he went out of his way to do this all for no charge. Just out of love for these kids.
It’s obvious to see where Ben’s heart was and how God was moving. He mentioned in that car ride the vision God had instilled in him during those years. While seeing so many kids living desperate and hopeless lives with nothing or nobody to fall back on. God had given him this vision to help the children of Rwanda and what’s crazy to me is hearing this vision God put in his heart, I’m sure at the time it seemed so impossible but just wait til you see what God has done with all of that impossible.
Ben also spent time to tell us of his heart for missions. Every year there are different groups that come to work at the school, encourage the kids and their families and also go back home to advocate for support for RCRI and the work they are doing. Ben’s deep love for missions and this vision for RCRI came from his early years. He mentioned that his parents were killed during the genocide, being left with nobody, a missionary came and sat with him, and hugged him. In that hug, Ben was given hope. The love of Christ can bring hope to anyone no matter what the situation. If that sentence right just now doesn’t tell you of the importance of missions then I don’t know what can. It’s amazing how that hug from a worker for the Lord began a vision and passion in his young heart to help the struggling kids all around him in Rwanda. To simply give them HOPE in so many different ways.
After coming to the US for a few years and receiving his seminary degree, Ben went back to Rwanda ready to put this vision from the Lord into action. This is directly from my notes that day in Rwanda; “He said that his vision for the school and helping those kids was so big that sometimes he gets caught up in the bigger picture when the day to day decisions and actions are what really matters because every moment of every day leads to God building the vision of what is to come. With all of the struggle and back against the wall work Ben has to do he keeps moving, taking a leap of faith with the Lord that the needs and blessings will be provided and seeing the school from day one to now is what God has intended in building his vision and making others believe and eventually bringing together people from SC to help build with him.”
What an amazing story and example of how God works!!! How God has worked through Ben to bring so much joy, hope and love to so many children and families. Families that are currently in situations where there isn’t much reason for hope to be had, RCRI helps provide hope for the hopeless! The way God has worked through this organization is so cool! Families who don’t have the money for school and sometimes even food with the working opportunities there being so low, God has opened up the door to education for these children which brings them and their families hope for a better life ahead. Food for the children as many days a week that RCRI can afford to feed them. And the best part of all, the school and whole program centers around Christ, discipling each student and not only preparing them for a better life but the chance to bring the light of Christ to Rwanda as a whole! Ben has even been offered money at times to take Christ out of the school but faithfully He continues to trust in what the Lord has begun and what the Lord will provide! This is RCRI, this is the foundation of each trip to Rwanda, why this mission is so huge and impacts the lives of so many children and families, and will continue to impact people in Rwanda for generations to come! Without Christ, what would be the point of all this anyways? The work Ben and RCRI are doing is amazing and even more so it’s a huge testament to what a good and awesome God we serve!
I don’t know all the details but I’m going to share as much as I can throughout the week and I am going to add a link to RCRI’s website for you to see what God has done with one act of hope and a vision in one man’s heart.
So much like Hannah, these kids and the people of Rwanda as a whole faced impossible circumstances. Hopeless and desperate times. I can’t imagine all the resistance and hoops Ben along with others of RCRI has had to jump through to continue making RCRI better and bigger for each child. I could have easily compared Ben’s story, which is RCRI’s story to so many examples from the Word but as Hannah prayed faithfully, with the willingness to give up everything, so have many others done the same for RCRI. Hearing stories of how RCRI was and how the school was years before when my cousin Paige and her husband first began going, it is obvious how God has worked in such huge ways. You can see already so many prayers answered and so many leaps of faith being blessed and provided for. What’s even more exciting is just like God’s capability, power and love is limitless, so is God’s visions. RCRI, the children that are apart of that organization and the families involved, there is still so much need in a number of different areas so as God has written some of this story of hope already, there is still so much more to be written. Against all odds, hope came from above. Children who lived in the dust of the streets and the dust of the hills are being lifted up, through prayers, support and at the root of it all, God’s mighty, loving hand! As God has worked through prayer and faithfulness, it’s brought this impossible vision to reality! Like I said I could of picked a lot of other examples but this one felt right because it’s one we can relate with today. Prayer, asking God out of faith for support and help for these kids who don’t have much to lean on, this battle for Ben, RCRI and these kids can be fought with prayer so please join me today in prayer for RCRI and the work they are doing. Pray with me that God will continue to use Ben and all of the workers, missionaries and many supporters in a mighty way for the lives of these children! Pray for these kids, in every trial and tough circumstance they face which are many that God will comfort them, give them the strength to keep pushing forward and will continue to learn and grow in the love of Christ! Pray for hope and provision for all Rwandans! Prayer out of faith in who God is, makes impossible more than possible! I’m so excited to see how God continues to write this story, bringing those children there in Rwanda from dust to glory!!!!!!!
Students of RCRI
2017 Rwanda team with Ben on the far left, and our trusty sidekick/best buddy/ translator Kenny in the sports coat