Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31, 2013

 Ministry Partners,
Greetings from the IRM team in Rwanda.  by Terry Fillis

Today was another day when God truly was present.
 The team went  to the old prison at Gichumbi. IRM had never been there before so no one knew exactly what to expect.  When we arrived we had to wait for a while for the warden to arrive. They had a work party down the road from the prison that we had passed coming in. We waited for them to return to the prison before starting our crusade. There were about 250 inmates at the prison and the warden wanted them all to hear the gospel message.
 This has been the theme in each of the three prisons so far. IRM have found real favor with the Commissioner of Prisons and with each of the wardens. Today we were able to present the gospel message to all of the inmates as well as sharing the message of forgiveness and reconciliation. The majority of the inmates responded favorably to the gospel and we saw many come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When Arlene shared the message of forgiveness the response was considerably less enthusiastic but the Holy Spirit had her make eye contact with some of the inmates and they responded. After the first stood it was like watching a wave roll through the group. There were many standing as Arlene led them in a prayer of forgiveness of themselves and others.
We had enough Bibles to give one to each inmate as well a copy of the IRM Discipleship Pamphlet. There were many smiles and even a few misty eyes as they were handed out. There were even some from the inmates. Go figure. Since there were no female inmates at the prison we had a men’s conference after the crusade. Our women team members took a well earned rest in the van while Pastor Peter, Alfred, Pastor Jerome, Pastor Brian and myself led a the men’s conference. After the time of teaching and testimony we were privileged to anoint each of the inmates who desired to receive it for the power of the Holy Spirit to transform their lives.
There was such a feeling of electricity in the air as we watched the Holy Spirit move in those men’s lives. We feel truly privileged to see lives transformed. The men’s conference walks them through the decisions they have made and how they are made new in Jesus Christ by outlining the discipleship pamphlet. They are encouraged to seek fellowship with the other Christians in the prison and to not be discouraged when times are tough. There are local pastors and chaplains who have volunteered to do follow up visits who will help them as they learn to walk each day with the Lord. We shared with them that people in America put in money for the Bibles and also to help the American team members afford the trip to Rwanda. Pastor Peter shared with the inmates that we were not there to make ourselves feel good about doing a good work but that we truly were concerned that they would hear the message of love and forgiveness that God had put on Arlene’s heart to share.
As always, Arlene’s testimony and point blank presentation made a great impact for the Kingdom of God. Please continue to pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to draw the hearts of these men to our Father. God bless all of you who read of our efforts and please support IRM and the prisoners with your prayers.
Yours in Christ,

That none would be lost,

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30, 2013

Good Morning from Rwanda, 
by Leslie Yoder

WOW! There truly are no words to describe the way I feel.  I am amazed everyday as we walk by faith how God begins to open doors for the team. Though I have heard stories from Arlene back in Oregon, nothing can prepare you for what you come to here in Rwanda. I have been surprised from the moment we took off in our first airplane, how I was overwhelmed by peace. 

 Terry, Warden, Arlene, Alfred, Leslie, Irene, Jerome, Peter
Brian, Philbert

I thank you for your prayers; they are felt by all of us.  
The drive to the new prison, Gicumbi, was a long bumpy(African massage) three hours to be exact. The team enjoyed each others company. We had many laughs, followed by a spontaneous songs of worship and talking about how we have been seeing the Lord work in ways that just amaze, even our beautiful Rwandan partners are in awe of the doors the Lord has opened and the favor that is upon our team. I am so honored to serve alongside and serve the leadership of IRM.  Once we got to our new prison, we met with the Warden.  She was a beautiful women and it was amazing to watch Arlene, Alfred, and Pastor Peter as Arlene communicated her heart and why we were there and what the ministry was all about. The Warden extended her welcome to us and permitted us to do the crusade, along with the Spiritual Leadership Training and Women’s ministry. 
We entered the prison area for the Crusade and before us just a few feet away, tightly packed in were 1690 prisons. It’s always overwhelming walking into the prisons, not because I feel afraid, but because of what you see on the faces of the prisoners. You see the hard life they have lived. The anger, the sadness and hopelessness, you see the spiritual strongholds and your heart breaks. You usually walk in to a song being sung. Oh, the joy that wells up inside of me watching the way the Rwandan people but their whole self into worship, song and dance. And in those few moments of singing, you see on most of the prisoners a brief moment of where they are able to not think about where they are, but clap their hands and sing out and tell stories about God with much joy.
Then Arlene steps up. Again, not a word to describe what it is like watching her do these Crusades. She connects with the prisoners in a way that is so unique and it is clear why God has her here. Her testimony is a light in these dark places. Gods free gift of salvation. Watching those who when you walk in, with such hardness in their eyes, to prisoners receiving the  Lord as there Savior and seeing a look of hope and light in their eyes is indescribably a miracle that takes your breath away, puts tears in your eyes and makes you want to leap out of your chair in worship.
After the Crusade we walked up the hill to the women’s area and spent an hour with them, and the men went to work with the Men. We again were in close proximity with them, never fear. More than anything a love that wells up inside of me. It was the second time giving my testimony in sharing about the Lord. Unfortunately, Toni was not feeling well and stayed back at our guest house, so it was Arlene and I. I had the opportunity to see the Holy Spirit bring many of these women to the Lord. I knew the Holy Spirit was guiding me to lead them in a prayer of salvation. My heart pounded as it was a unique moment, and I prayed…LORD HELP. I have led people in the prayer of salvation. But this is a different situation. It’s not like sitting with a friend, or sharing Christ with a child as you look up and see the barbed wires above the walls. The armed guards, and the warden and you remember you are in a prison. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, lives were changed and it was hard to say good bye to the women. The day before last was amazing too and I feel such peace (after the first few moments of heart pounding out of my chest) with the ladies and sharing. I am looking forward to Thursday, as we will be doing a day of teaching with the women of Pastor Jerome’s church.  OH MAN!!! GOD IS SO GOOD!!! There is not enough time to share every detail with you, and it feels impossible to convey all that He is doing.
Thank you again for your prayers. It means the world to us. We are so so so thankful. Please continue to pray for our team’s health, and travels and that the Lord would continue to bless us with favor. We are off to breakfast.  
We love and appreciate you, our faithful prayer partners.
In His Name- Leslie

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013

  Ministry Partners,

Good Evening from Rwanda!
by Brian Youd

Today was a most unusual day. The team traveled to Mpanga prison and as is often the case here, plans changed. We had expected to come and have a couple of hours to do separate men’s and women’s trainings. Instead, we found out firsthand what the Bible means when it says in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has in store for those who love Him.” Rather than spending our time solely with small groups of men and women, we were requested to hold a crusade for the entire prison, and the warden, having been informed we were coming had the entire prison assembled. It was an incredible feeling to stand in front of over 6000 people and hear Arlene talk about Christ and the need we all have for Him in our lives!

 Leslie, Irene, Pastor Jerome, Arlene, Deputy Warden Albert, Toni, Terry
Alfred & Brian

After the crusade finished, we made our way back to the warden’s office since we had not yet met him. When he arrived and welcomed us to his office and to the prison grounds there was a sense that something was different about this man. It became apparent very quickly that not only did he have a heart for forgiveness, but that he was a Christian as well. We ate lunch with him and his staff, serving them peanut butter sandwiches, and were told that we had no time limit on our teaching sessions for the afternoon. Both the men’s and women’s sessions went well and we were able to encourage both the men and women’s groups in their faith in the Lord. No one expected what happened after the sessions though! The warden, whose name is Innocent, invited us to his office for a quick “farewell.” What it turned out to be was a wonderful dinner that he had prepared for us to share with him and his staff. Our fellowship over dinner was so sweet! God spoke through Warden Innocent today in mighty ways. He actually stood with our women in the ladies’ session and preached to the female inmates! He gave a short message to the men as well, and when it was time for us to depart, he prayed a great prayer of anointing over our team and the ministry IRM is doing in Rwandan prisons.

Arlene, Warden Innocent

 It was no great surprise when Arlene “adopted” Innocent as yet another one of her Rwandan sons!
God is doing mighty things here. He is stretching all of us as we acclimate to the Rwandan culture and how to communicate His love to the inmates here. Please join us in prayer as we seek His will for what to communicate and how best to do so. Pray also that the team continues to gel well and that we continue to exercise patience and grace towards each other as we do the work God lays before us each day. We love knowing that though you are not here with us physically, you are in prayer for us daily. Again, God bless you. Have a wonderful day and speak the Word boldly through your words and actions today!
Brian Youd

That none would be lost,

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28, 2013

Ministry Partners,

Today was the teams first Sunday in Rwanda and we were able to go to a Foursquare church pastor-ed by Pastor Jerome, a former prisoner who now has a church of his own and who is a partner with IRM
Following the service we went to Jerome's home to have lunch with him, his family and the church family.
The beautiful women at Pastor Jerome's church
It was a great service with villagers and released inmates, who stood in church and told of their genocide murder crimes and asked for forgiveness. These men were in Butari Prison for 15 to 17 years are now pastors themselves and they told of the work God and IRM had done in their lives.

The team is getting over their jet-lag, getting their "sea legs" under them and preparing to to to Mpanga Prison tomorrow.
Leslie having morning devotions overlooking the city of Kigali.

It's 11 pm and time for bed. I am sorry this is short but after preaching a full hour today I am so very tired.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ministry Partners,

Travel to and my first full day in Rwanda, by Toni Anderson - 

Going to the airport at 5 am and  David weighed my bag about 10 times to get it down from 67 lbs.!  The land of a thousand hills and a thousand smiles is so true.  Everyone has been extremely kind to us.

 Arlene is her usual detailed self, handling hundreds of decisions every day.   
The Portland to Dulles to Brussels to Kigali plane rides were brutal and we tried not to sleep for over 24 hours. We took turns taking naps on the floor in the Brussels terminal.  We heard every language as we waited.  Many were going on to Nairobi or Israel or Asia.   
Our accommodations are good and beds comfortable.  The guest house looks out over a valley where a slum was recently demolished.  There is a high contrast of the haves and have nots, modern buildings and bare existence.  We have a large deck to look out over the scenery. Today was the last Saturday of the month when no one can be on the road from 8 am to noon. 
 It is national cleanup day.  If you’re outside your home and not cleaning up your property, you can be arrested and forced to do cleanup elsewhere but you can be out walking with a tool box to do volunteer work elsewhere.  No driving is allowed and sometimes tacks will be put on the road.  There are dogs that some of the owners in the guest house compound keep and they were barking when we went to bed and barking when I woke at dawn.  Made me feel right at home and comforted.   
Our rooms are right next to each other and the five of us share two bathrooms so it’s easy.  There are two water tanks out back that supply the house.  We sat outside on the patio after a breakfast prepared by the cook of French toast and eggs.  Our discussion ran in 10 different directions and was such a blessing as found many common threads, angels and more. Prayers for each other are sweet and full of love.  


Our Toyota van today was a NOAH model! Visiting the open market brought many delightful sights, men carrying banana bunches that must have weighed as much as they did and women carrying platters of vegetables on their heads, babies on their backs or front.  One man had 5 cases of water balanced on his head and a vendor will pull a live chicken out of a box and butcher and pluck it for you.  I’ll have pictures to show you of all of this.   
The narrow aisles between vendor tables are about the width of an airplane aisle, NOT BIG, no passing.  Some Mom’s had their babies under their tables, even some were inside a cupboard sleeping.  Our exchange rate was 660 francs per dollar. 
Arlene helped us pick out a few people to each give out ties and scarves to people in the market.  We got some lovely smiles and were allowed to take photos.  They also received an explanation of how to know Jesus.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26.....

 Ministry Partners,

I just wanted to let all of you know that Leslie, Toni, Brian and Terry arrived safely at 8pm Rwandan time. It was so good to see these very special weary travelers.
  Pastor Peter, Terry, Toni, Leslie, Brian, Arlene & Alfred
The team members are all in bed as I write this and I will make this brief as it is 11:30.

Today, Pastor Peter, Alfred and I met with Datvia, Deputy Director General of Rwanda Corrections Services for 2 hours. Relationships in Rwanda are so very important and over time we have certainly become friends which was very evident from her warm greeting. She invited me to accompany her to Relima Prison for a late day celebration there but she understood my refusal in that my team was arriving and the prison was a distance away.

Arlene & Dativa

At the end of our meeting she had called wardens and given her permission for us to enter a new prison prison in North Eastern Rwanda, increasing our prisons entrances this trip by 1 and asking if we would like to go to the remaining 2 new prisons!!!!! I was disappointed that I had to tell her that my limited time here would not allow me to accept her generous offer.

God is answering your faithful prayers, we appreciate all of you.

That none would be lost,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24.......

Ministry Partners,

If I have not told you before.....your continued prayers are so important as evidenced today......I knew many were praying.

Life here in Rwanda does not just change day by day but indeed moment by moment.

Warden Datvia, (whom I first met at the 1930 prison in 2007 and again at Relima Prison last year has been promoted to Deputy Director General of Rwanda Corrections Services) is gone, traveling to different prisons in Rwanda so she was unable to meet with me today but requested a meeting on Friday. She also informed Pastor Peter, on the phone, that she had given instructions to all departments that the IRM application for entrances into the prison be given priority over any other application for final signature and release since it has been approved by the Commissioner General of Rwanda Correction Services. They reported to Pastor Peter a few minutes ago that the document "should" be ready tomorrow for us to pick up on Friday.

When Pastor Peter arrived at 10 we were on our way to Kayonza with Pastor Aaron driving from the right hand side and Pastor Peter seated on the left side, front seat while I was sitting behind but leaning ahead between the seats to chat with Pastor Peter. We were going around a curve when I saw a HUGE military style truck coming toward us but he was driving to fast for the curve and was unable to stay on his side of the line marked road and advanced so quickly in a "head on fashion" that I tell you the truth ...... all I had time to saw was "please Jesus" before the truck grazed the side of our van and I heard the sound of glass breaking. The truck never stopped and when we came to a complete stop and Pastor Aaron got out to examine the damage only the left side-view mirror was broken with not a single scratch on the van itself or more importantly.....ON ANY OF US!!!

For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. Psalm 5:12 

As Pastor Peter and I discussed it a few minutes ago it was as if Jesus wrapped His hand around the van keeping all of us safe. We were not hit head on and Pastor Arron did not swerve so violently as to put us over the edge of the bank for us to roll down the hill. Pastor Peter and I agree, we ARE going to see God do great things during this trip and as he says "The enemy is really mad with us and what we are doing and will do", stating the document issue and the travel incident today. I am reminded AGAIN that I am a child of the MOST HIGH KING, who has the victory !!!!!

 Kayonza is where my dear friend Katilda lives. She is the lady I met in 2006 who has a dislocated upper left arm bone and she is 79 years of age. Last year when I visited I found that her legs were paralyzed so I was not sure what I would find. We stopped for a few supplies and as we parked the car I was concerned because she was not on her mat outside but a neighbor boy ran through her open door and then peered back at me.
As I walked up to the doorway, it was so very dark inside, I saw a pair of feet on the ground inside that I recognized.......they were Katilda's feet and as I stepped into the actual doorway I saw her smiling face. When she saw me she started to squeal (a sound I love to hear) and talk Kinyarwanda. I got down beside her and pulled her up as she held on to me so tightly, continuing to talk and squeal, patting me on the back. This hug from my dear friend lasted over 5 minutes, we were both making up for the last year.

Like she has told me the last few years, she told us again that she had a dream about me last night so she knew I was coming. She said again that she had been worried about me and my health and that she knew we would be together in heaven but she did not want me to die first......she wanted to die first. This precious friend has had so much loss in her life from the genocide, ect. that she did not want to deal with another "loss" in her life on this earth. She said she prays for me all the time and for what I am doing here but she does not realize what a treasure she and her friendship are to me. As the tears even now cascade down my cheeks as they did when I left her today.........I have no more words.

I will be traveling tomorrow about a three hours drive with Pastor Peter, Mercurie and Pastor Aaron to Eastern Rwanda for a Crusade that was added recently and is not on your itinerary but close to #7 Akagera. In addition I found out two days ago that I will be teaching leaders for two hours in the morning with the crusade at 3pm.
Pastor Ron & Annette, I remember what happened at Peter's Primacy in Israel and I know it was to prepare me for tomorrow for He has been reminding me of it today, the Holy Spirit will give me everything I need to share!!!

Thank you again for your faithful prayers, THEY ARE NEEDED.

That none would be lost.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23rd......

Ministry Partners,

A quote from today's devotional.........

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13 NKJV

 Through our difficulties we learn to be…
weak enough to lean upon His strength; small enough to look upon His greatness; empty enough to draw upon His fullness; poor enough to depend upon His riches; needy enough to count upon His grace. ~ Roy Lessin
 Since arriving in Rwanda it has been an interesting time to say the least. Sunday morning I spoke in two different churches finishing at 1:30. It was an amazing time to watch the Holy Spirit work as 30 prayed to receive God's free gift of salvation.
The guest house where I am staying is redoing their internet service and the main office as of earlier today has not been able to log on using their own password so then neither have I. The tech this afternoon tried to convenience me that the issue was with my notebook while I kept explaining that I had no problem with my notebook over the last 4 years and I had always been able to log on when Moucecore's service was up. After finally deciding to purchase a modem for the computer the 2 technicians worked from afternoon until late tonight and walla they did find that the issue was with something in the new system and not my computer. 
Not only am I happy but I am sure the women in the office will be very happy tomorrow when they come to work as they have not been able to access their own service. So with some local service and a modem hopefully the posting will be more consistent but the days here keep me so very busy.

Yesterday Pastor Peter and Alfred took me to meet with Mary, the Deputy Commissioner General of Rwanda Correctional Services who was formerly the Commissioner General of  Police. She is the highest ranking official for which to seek permission to do ministry within the prisons. We had a very lengthy visit and she promised to expedite our application for entrance into the prisons. Please pray that we are able to receive the signed doc. tomorrow when we return to the Rwandan Corrections Offices.

Today was a day of getting some IRM business done.The Discipleship Booklets are being printed and while Alfred was purchasing 30 cs. of water in preparation for the teams arrival Pastor Aaron and I passed out all the tracts I had stuffed in my brief case. I had gone off without my camera and missed some really good shots, for sure. Can you imagine 50 lg. mattresses stacked HIGH on a very small Toyota pickup bed!!!...?

We had an issue with one of the microphones for the battery operated sound system we purchased in Uganda so Pastor Aaron took it to a shop to find out what the issue was. It seems the was a wire that was broken so it was quickly fixed, soldered, for a cost of only $5 and that included the cost for a young man to carry it a few blocks to the shop from where we could find parking.

We also stopped by the market to pick up items for team lunches as well as some other supplies.

We returned to Moucecore to find that Octave, from the Rwandan Bible Society, was on his way to my guest house to deliver the Bibles I had ordered. We have become friends over the years and it was good to see him.

After dinner Alfred and I got the paper work/accounting caught up so I could get everything posted on the excel spreadsheets. He leaves very early in the morning for Kenya as they have requested some medical work done before as he can only obtain his visa from there because he will leave the same day for Australia the same day we leave for America, to began studies for his PHD. Then he will return the  next evening and help Pastor Peter, Pastor Aaron and I with final preparations for the teams arrival on Friday evening, I am anxious to greet all four of them.

Well, it's 11PM and time for me to began to think about getting to bed.

Thanks for your faithful continued prayers, their needed.

That none would be lost,