It feels like forever. Due to our project in Rwanda and then a wedding in Virginia, I haven’t been able to worship with the Hope family for more than a month. I really have missed my connection to a Body whose heart beat is for you and your family and friends to find and know Christ. There is a lot that churches like Hope must do to keep that heart beat strong, but I especially hope that in this pre-Easter season that heart beat is front and center in all we do.
I know many of you heard the great report that John and Peggy Scudiere shared about Good Rain this past Sunday. I want to give you and update, request prayer and make an application. This past week the Government of Rwanda implemented new building and zoning standards for churches in the capital, Kigali. This led to 714 churches being closed in the city until they could meet those standards. This included 4 churches in our partner network, 3 of which we were in during the last month. The challenge of meeting those new standards will be formidable for all 4 of those churches…2 toilets each for men and women, certain sized land parcels, sound proofing in some circumstances and few more specs. The use of a tent is no longer permitted, which means one of the locations where we taught one year will be closed.
As formidable and likely show-stopping as that is, there is another new requirement that will prove even more devastating. The Government also adopted a policy that anyone pastoring a local church must have theological training. Our understanding is that the training ministry we started in 2011 is more than sufficient so our “guys” should be fine, but that is not true for 85% of those currently serving as Pastors. Even allowing for the governments concern of the illiterate being taken advantage of by self-proclaimed prophets and apostles or simply misled by the biblically illiterate leaders, this will still be a devastating blow to the Rwandan Church. Literally thousands of churches could be closed across the nation, especially in the rural areas. Prayers are definitely needed.
Now the epidemic of illiteracy in Rwandan might justify such “protections”, but not so here in our neck of the woods. Virtually everyone can read, and bibles are available everywhere. And yet we suffer from an epidemic of biblical illiteracy. So many people say they love God, but they never really read the Bible. For instance, most would say the believe in the power of prayer, but they have never studied what the bible teaches about prayer. The say they believe in the importance and power of the Holy Spirit, but they have never studied what the bible says about the role of the Spirit in their life or the world. Others are so grateful for salvation and new life in Christ, but they have never studied the doctrine of salvation or about how to live that new life. All that might not lead you to be preyed upon by unscrupulous “prophets” but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t leave a lot of spiritual riches untapped.
So why not use the next month, the “Journey to the empty tomb“, as the life event to really get into the bible. If you do, this Easter will be the most powerful ever.
Looking forward to connecting with you on Sunday.