We left the baptism and made our way up a narrow dirt road to the Kibenga School, where 400+ primary students are enrolled.
The Kibenga School stands out for lots of reasons. A public school built by UNICEF after the genocide, it is one of the best physical structures in the area. But it takes more than a good facility to produce a successful school. That’s why, two years ago, the district of Bugesera asked Africa New Life Ministries to take over the operation of the school.
Africa New Life has a stellar reputation in Rwanda. Ten years ago they started a school in another community with a handful of impoverished children. Today the school hosts 1000+ children and has become the top academic school in the entire country. The Kibenga School in Bugesera is now an extension of that remarkable story.
The teachers and staff at Kibenga School believe they can change the world. How powerful is that? Each day, they come to their classroom on a mission. Their love, dedication, hard work, and faith are contagious. Now the children believe they can change the world too.
What about you and me?
Approaching the school, I was surprised to see several large posters on the exterior walls; each displayed a single Bible verse, printed black on white, and nothing else. Asked to pick a bible verse for children, I would go with something easy, like, “Let the little children come to me.” But here I found more intense verses, with truths like this: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is a verse chosen for children by someone who expects to change the world.
Evil is real. Every man, woman, and child in Rwanda knows it. The shadows, scars, and ghosts of the past are everywhere. “Overcome by evil” is a massive summary statement capturing the experience of a whole nation. But then – here comes the gospel of Christ. Evil is not the final word, nor is it the ultimate power. Evil can be overcome with good. Believe this. Live it. Remember: this is exactly what Christ did in his death on the cross and in the power of his resurrection. Let the story of the gospel shape your thinking and doing. “Overcome evil with good.” This is God’s word for the children of Bugesera.
What about you and me?
I came away from the Kibenga School with a deep conviction burning in my heart: It actually matters what we do in this world. It matters!
It matters that teachers bring the love and truth of Christ to the children of genocide. It matters that they serve with dedication and excellence, believing what they do will ultimately change the world. It matters that members of our church support nearly half of the children at the Kibenga School through sponsorships, allowing them to learn in a life changing, world shaping Christian environment. It matters that we partner with Africa New Life to plant a new, gospel centered church not far from the Kibenga School. And what if we don’t?
A comment in response to my first blog post said the Christian Church in Rwanda failed the people of Rwanda during the genocide as well as in the years leading up to it. It’s true. The church failed to teach the full gospel; failed to create true disciples of Jesus; failed to take action when it needed to; and ultimately failed to overcome evil with good. All of this matters, deeply.
There are lots of Christians in Rwanda right now who are determined to get it right; to DO what is needed; to overcome evil with good.
What about you and me? What about our own church, city, neighborhood, world?
In recent months I have become more convinced than ever of three things:
- Evil is Real
- The Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation
- It Matters What We Do
These are a few of the core convictions I’ll come back to often in this blog. To get the full picture, go back and read the last two posts if you missed them.
Next post: The Shape of Love.