We have been attending the International Soul Winning Workshop at the Fairgrounds in Tulsa for the last few days. The ISWW is an annual conference of the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches.
Yesterday, I attended a session in which participants were informed about new mission work in Rwanda, the African country that was torn apart by genocide in 1994. During 100 days in the spring and early summer of that year, at least 800,000 people were murdered because of "ethnic" hatred.
Oklahoma Christian University President Mike O'Neal and faculty member Brian Hickson presented the following information about the new mission work:
1. Poverty---Rwandans earn less than $1 a day, but gasoline costs more than $6 per gallon. The nation has a 40% unemployment rate.
2. HIV/AIDS---250,000 people are infected.
3. Orphans---Genocide and AIDS have left 500,000 orphans. Twenty-six percent of the children are orphans.
4. Education---Only 7.5% of Rwandans have completed secondary school.
5. Loss of Faith---Public institutions, governments, families, churches, and neighbors have failed the people.
When Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Minneapolis in 2003, he met the Lawson family, a Christian family with ties to Oklahoma Christian University. They invited Mike O'Neal and Uganda missionary Dave Jenkins with them on a trip to Rwanda as guests of President Kagame.
Because of the friendship formed with President Kagame during that trip, the Churches of Christ have been allowed to enter Rwanda. In fact, the government has allowed a church to purchase some nice property in the capitol city. So, three weeks ago, Christ's Church in Rwanda had its first worship assembly. (The church is called "Christ's Church" in Rwanda, because "Church of Christ" had been registered with the government by a group without theological ties to the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches in America.)
Christ's Church in Rwanda has a great opportunity to help many people who have been turned off by the "Christianity" in their country that either condoned or encouraged the ethnic murders of a few years ago. Christ's Church has a opportunity to practice and promote genuine faith in Jesus Christ. "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27, NASB). I hope that the new church makes a great difference for good in an area that has experienced so much evil.
More information about the mission in Rwanda can be found at http://www.rocfoundation.org.