Putting the Finishing Touches on 2021
The year 2021 was very much like its predecessor – full of COVID-19 twists and turns. This led to lots of challenges for CBM and its partner in Rwanda, the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches (AEBR). Many activities were planned for this year through the different projects which CBM and AEBR do together. Unfortunately, as we all know, COVID did not cooperate. The months were full of lockdowns, restrictions, and COVID numbers going up and down. As a result, there have been a few plans which simply had to be written off, given the current restrictions. One of those activities was the assistance offered to AEBR’s five Regional Bible Schools. The protocols together with the negative economic impact of the coronavirus meant that none of the schools were able to meet even one time this year. Please pray for the 135 pastors and church leaders who are part of those schools during this difficult time. Another “casualty” of the pandemic has been SENT teams. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, there have been no teams come to Rwanda. That is an important part of the ministry here which has been greatly missed.
Thankfully, on the positive side, most of the project activities have been able to adapt and change in order to still take place in some form. Toward the end of September, a window of opportunity opened which allowed several projects to find a way to fulfill at least some of their plans. Here is a snapshot of the events in which I (Darrell) was involved.
Emerging Leaders Initiative
As reported in earlier newsletters, ELI is a leadership training program for up-and-coming leaders in AEBR who are 25-40 years old. It began in 2019 but COVID prevented any seminars last year. The Timothy Project is a leadership development effort coming out of the partnership of AEBR with the Danish Baptists. It is aimed at about 100 church leaders from a region in western Rwanda. For several years, I have been able to assist with that, serving as one of the facilitators. As the end of this year Teaching at ELI approached, both of these projects still had two modules left to complete with a significant increase in costs due to the coronavirus. For both ELI and Timothy it was decided to combine the last two modules into one final gathering. Praise the Lord that we were able to see 15 women and men graduate from ELI! And the Timothy Project was also able to finish with a great celebration of thanksgiving!
Integral Mission Conference
The challenges from the pandemic have also been felt by other CBM partners, such as CBCA in Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to border closures and restrictions, they had to reschedule a conference on Integral Mission a couple of different times, since several of us as CBM staff were supposed to lead sessions. They finally decided to organize it using Zoom so that we could participate from Rwanda. The added bonus was that their own people could join from numerous sites which not only saved money for transportation, but also avoided travel in areas that are often dangerous. It was wonderful that technology allowed us to join our Congolese brothers and sisters.
Family Ministry Training
The Family Ministry Training that I have been a part of for several years also faced challenges with the COVID restrictions. In the end, Laetitia and I had to redesign the project. Rather than doing trainings and then follow-up visits in five sub-regions, we could only manage to complete the trainings. This meant that none of the follow-up visits in 2020 or in 2021 were able to happen due to the coronavirus. So the new plan is to do those ten follow-up visits in 2022. And we are grateful that we were able to find a way to complete the trainings scheduled for this year. We know that there are many, many families who will greatly benefit from this time together.
So, as the year 2021 draws to a close, we are very thankful that the finishing touches have been applied to numerous projects, despite the great challenges and uncertainties. Thanks to all of you who stand with CBM as they embrace a broken world through word and deed. And thank you to everyone who supports us in the work that we are doing here in Rwanda.
Hopeful Gifts for Change
Since we are fast approaching the time of year for “making a list and checking it twice”, we would also encourage you to check out CBM’s Hopeful Gifts for Change Catalogue. It is a wonderful way to give a gift on behalf of someone you care about. These are gifts which will truly transform people’s lives. You can choose based on a preferred area or country, or look for a gift that targets a cause about which you are passionate. Find it at www.cbmin.org/hopefulgifts/.
The Power Centre: Connecting Through Prayer
Reasons to Praise:
- Our colleagues, Andre and Polisi, have just returned from a very positive visit with FEBAC, our partner in South Sudan. While there have been meetings in other countries with FEBAC leaders, this is the first time that CBM staff have been able to enter that country to visit this partner since civil war broke out in 2013. That is eight years! Pray that this time together was an encouragement to our brothers & sisters in South Sudan and that it will prove beneficial to the partnership.
- We are thanking God for the many individuals and churches who faithfully contribute to our ministry. Some are new supporters while others have been with us since the beginning in 2002. It is encouraging that the level of support we have received so far puts us in a great position to finish this year strongly. What that means in practical terms is that more of CBM’s funds are freed up to help transform the lives of those who are most vulnerable. “Murakoze cyane!!” (Thank you very much!)
- Since our last newsletter, there has been big news in our family. Caleb is engaged! He and Aynsley are planning on getting married next year. (More to come on that in the future.) In the meantime, we’re trying to prepare ourselves for this new chapter!
Ongoing Prayer Items:
- Some of you may know that Laura Lee has been dealing with some health issues since mid-August. She received good medical care, for which we are thankful. The doctors have concluded that she has been dealing with post-COVID symptoms after unknowingly contracting the virus at some point earlier this year. We are grateful that she is well along on her way to recovery after a couple of long months. We are praying for a full recovery as well as patience and wisdom.
- Please pray for partners here in Africa. These have been difficult days for them. For example, the seminary RIET which was partly run by AEBR here in Kigali has now been shut down for a year for various reasons. At the same time (as mentioned earlier), the five Regional Bible Schools have each only met one time in almost two years (rather than monthly). These developments have created a great deal of uncertainty in relation to church leadership training for them as a denomination.