The country of a thousand hills, stunning scenery, warm and friendly people, bursts of colour everywhere, gorilla paradise, jungles galore, winding rivers – these are all synonym with Rwanda. It is also very likely that your favourite coffee or tea originated from Rwanda – they are known for great coffee and tea; it is one of their prime exports.
“No country has ever influenced me as much spiritually and emotionally like Rwanda did. Rwanda is a very small country hidden in the heart of central Africa,” said Francois Rauch, Head of Regional Directors, Harvesters Ministries.
“On the 6th of April 1994 everything changed. As people woke up that morning and turned their radios they heard the words, ‘It’s time to cut down the tall trees.’ And with these words on the 6th of April 1994 a genocide of brutal ferocity and speed was afflicted upon the people of Rwanda,” Francois said.
Today Rwanda is a police state and is quite peaceful. Sadly, Rwanda has a dark history. In 1994 more than 1 million people were brutally murdered, in actual fact butchered, in 100 days with a deadly weapon – the machete.
“I’ve travelled all around Rwanda, but one cannot travel far without seeing a memorial that recalls those terrible days,” explains Francois.
Even though the world authorities were alerted before the start of the genocide – nothing was done to prevent these world horrors. Nothing! This excruciating genocide has a very real and lasting effect on the Church in Rwanda. Francois explains that the Church in Rwanda has not stopped weeping as several Catholic priests and members of the clergy were indicated in the slaughter. It is even insinuated that they directed the killing of people who were seeking refuge in their churches.
Francois further explains that the Church became a place of mistrust and suspicion after the genocide. It was a very general concept in Rwanda for people not to trust the Church.
Harvesters Ministries came into Rwanda more than 5 years ago – in spite of this terrifying and challenging background. It was Harvesters Ministries’ desire to introduce people to what Church is really supposed to be. Francois further explains, “Church is meant to be a place where we love God, we love people and we make disciples that makes other disciples.”
Harvesters Ministries used this opportunity to show the Rwandan Church how God sees His Church as the hope of the world. This was however a more challenging task than anticipated. Through evangelism and discipleship Harvesters Ministries teaches local pastors to plant and lead healthy churches. Harvesters Ministries also used this opportunity to teach pastors what the true Gospel was.
The true Gospel is explained in 1 Corinthians 15 verse 3 and 4, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”
Harvesters Ministries uses a well-designed theological syllabus to train pastors. Harvesters Ministries presents a three-year program which forms the foundation for pastors who wants to meet the basic requirements to become a pastor of a church.
In November 2019 130 pastors graduated from the Harvesters Ministries program. They did not only complete the program, each of them planted three churches. “After the graduation pastors came to me and they wept as they said to me if we only made true disciples of this Christian nation everything would have been different,” Francois remembers fondly.
The pastors of Rwanda have one desire – believers must continue to pray for them. Harvesters Ministries is continuing to plant churches with amazing men and women who loves God, the Church and their nation.