A sea in front of them, two steep mountains on their sides and pharaoh’s army closing on them from behind. And Moses cried to the Lord and the only answer he got was “tell the people to move on…” (Exodus 14:15). This was the kind of sentiment we all had when the corona virus pandemic closed in on us. The first active case in Rwanda was detected on March 14, 2020 and immediately a cascade of measures fell on us like a torrential rain. Social distancing, banning of public gatherings, interdiction of cross-border trading; closing of all businesses except those providing essential services, imposition of face masks in all public places, hand washing or use of sanitizers when coming from public places or going into public buildings. We were all in an imposed paralysis and then the Lord said, “tell the team to move on!”
Immediately ground assessments were made, proposals were written to respond to the many needs that arose from the different measures and you, our partners responded generously. That allowed our team to move into action without delay. AE International trained our staff in the new approach of Home -Based Evangelism and they in turn trained 313 church leaders in the approach and facilitated its implementation in two districts that were scheduled for mission outreach in 2020. Pre-recorded evangelism messages were sent to facilitators who helped the community members to listen to the messages in company of their invited friends. The messages are short but packed in such a compelling and convincing manner that they lead to repentance and commitment. We are yet to evaluate the results of the outreach but people were appreciative.
AE-Rwanda worked with partner churches and provided them with 2,860 non-contact infrared thermometers that are compulsory for churches to re-open. We also provided hygiene items like face masks, soap and hand sanitizers to 14,342 people from 3,570 households. AE provided food items like beans, rice, maize flour and cooking oil to 27,608 households. When the schools were planning to re-open, AE constructed washing stations for 32 public schools that cater for children from poor neighborhoods where parents could not afford to pay for that new infrastructure.
Schools have reopened, some churches that fulfilled the requirements are open but operating at 50% of their sitting capacity, buses are allowed 75% of their capacity, cases are going down. Life is slowly coming back but still under the impositions of the “new normal”. And AE-Rwanda is still moving on.
This is not a full report, just a short note to back up my deep and sincere appreciation to you all whose generosity has allowed us to remain relevant to our mission and helpful to the poor among our people. It’s in time of need that you know your real friends. May the Lord keep blessing you to remain a blessing to all those in need.
Together in the Lord’s service,
Written by Rev. Antoine Rutayisire, AE-Rwanda Board Chairman.
Ben Campbell (Sydney) is the CEO Africa Enterprise.