The sky is blue over Nyamagabe, Rwanda. The land of 1,000 hills is quietly waking up as a small cluster of people makes its way to the little community that Newday Adventist Church in Parker has sponsored through combined efforts with World Vision. They sense that God is there.
A group of eight members of the Newday congregation returned from Rwanda on March 17. Reporting on this visit to Rwanda, Tish Jeffers said that in just over 12 years of partnership “progress has been made whereby we see very little evidence of chronic malnutrition or death from preventable causes.”
She further reports that the hospitals are operational and the rates of diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and waterborne illness have plummeted. “Small micro-businesses are popping up and, through the micro-loan program, these business owners can get their businesses going and support their families. They co-op and learn money management,” Jeffers comments. “Electricity is coming to more and more homes, though it may only be one light bulb hung from the middle of the main room.”
With the funds that were raised from running marathons with Team World Vision, clean water is becoming available to more and more people. The result of all this progress is a better quality of life: more time for children to do their homework, more time for family activities, more time for children to play.
For David Kennedy, Newday’s lead pastor, the recent visit was his seventh. He recalls his first trip in 2004 when he met their first sponsored child, Eugenie, one of three personally-sponsored children by David and his wife, Kim. “She was eight then. Through sponsorship, she is a thriving 21-year-old woman who has a new home, land to farm and cows,” he shares.
Eugenie was the first in her family to graduate from secondary school and, sponsored by the Kennedys, she will be attending university over the next three years to become a teacher.
Anyone would recognize this as a success story that is being multiplied by hundreds of children sponsored through partnership with World Vision by members of the Newday congregation. “Over these 12 years, church members sponsored more than 250 children. That’s more than the number of members in our congregation,” Kennedy says.
“As we made our way through the villages visiting our sponsored children, we were blessed with their ability to greet us in English. Some of them spoke [to us] for the first time. They were excited to show us their schools, their grades and their hope of moving on to higher education and university,” Jeffers adds.
Pastor Kennedy explains the relationship Newday has with World Vision and Nyamagabe: “The past 12 years has been transformation for us and for them. We have been so blessed to come to know the people of their community and to receive their warm hospitality. We have even welcomed many of them into our homes and to preach in our church. And to see the transformation that has taken place in their community through the holistic efforts of World Vision has been nothing short of astounding.”
Twelve years ago Nyamagabe was a community fighting to survive, says Kennedy. “Today, they are thriving. It is a testament to the power of long-term commitment and relationship.”
While reflecting on the involvement in Rwanda and other mission fields one may ask, “What can I do to change the world? I am just one person.”
Jeffers concludes that “there is still so much to do, and it is evident that it can be done! We have seen so much joy and faith in the evidence of God’s blessing on our giving in this area of the world. One plus one plus 101 equals many. Many can do this! Together, with God’s blessing, we can change the outcome of many lives.”