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Orphan Care PEACE teams travel to Rwanda to work with the local church to train social workers, teach churches about orphan care, and visit the homes of families who have adopted.

Here one team member, Tim, shares his experience on an orphan care PEACE trip this summer when he visited the home of a man who has adopted and is receiving support from the Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsorship program:

The moment I entered Anatas’ home, I couldn’t help but notice the desperate circumstances in which this man lived. The damp, dirt floors were only barely visible from a single light bulb haphazardly hanging from the ceiling. The rugged adobe bricks that served as the walls of the home looked severely weathered. There was a single wooden bench and a couple foldable plastic chairs surrounding a table in the middle of the living room. We sat down and politely introduced ourselves. This was my first home visit in Rwanda and had no idea what I was in for. 

Anatas was a tall and slender man who looked to be in his mid-to late 40’s. He appeared to be very timid when he first introduced himself. His daughter Martha was sheepishly sitting beside him, occasionally whispering something in Kinyarwanda in to his ear. As he continued to share his story, his initial mild manner turned to excitement and joy. He couldn’t help but smile at the way he described how God had radically changed his life. I was moved by his testimony of perseverance and resilience.  After the genocide that decimated his home, he remained a soldier to provide for his family. He witnessed the brutal deaths of people close to him and questioned his own survival.  He said he later examined his purpose and place in the world. In his heart, there was an emptiness that he was longing to fill. Soon after, Anatas went to check out a Christian church with his wife.  Since then, he has been attending church regularly and is a living testament to the blessings the Lord has given him. Now as a leader in his church, Anatas uses his story to bring others to Christ.

At the center of every man’s success is a woman.  In this case it is Valencia, his wife of 20 years. Together they have raised 6 beautiful children, 5 of whom are their biological children. His eldest daughter, Ruth, is his niece and was taken in after her parents tragically lost their lives during the conflict. Though their family, like many others, has been through tremendous suffering, their faith continues to thrive. Anatas has a deep relationship with Christ. He shared with me that his biggest hope is that his kids will grow a strong relationship with Christ as well.

Just as soon as I thought I had figured him out, he revealed a startling revelation. He is infected with HIV. His struggle to afford the HIV medications only exacerbates his struggle to supply food for his family.  His job as a construction worker yields a meager pay. He tells me that the Orphan Care Sponsorship funds that he receives through the local church for taking in an orphan are critical in providing for his family. Although he appears to be in desperate circumstances, this does not impede him from being a guiding example for others.  He works with a ministry in his church that gives tests and provides treatment for others with HIV. He provides hope for others through Jesus.  

What Anatas and I shared during this visit transcended all cultural and language barriers.  Our faith in God united us to be able to share our story as one family.  I concluded the home visit with a prayer. I prayed for his health and family. I prayed that he continue to be a shining beacon of hope for all others he comes across.  Last, I prayed that other loving families, like those of Anatas, would open their homes for the orphans of Rwanda and provide a safe haven for those who are neglected. Though this man came from humble beginnings, he had the heart and generosity of a king.  His story will forever remain in my heart.  

Since this visit, our team was fortunate to have been able to conduct many more.  I heard shocking testimonials of people whose lives have been transformed by God. We consoled and offered our support and encouragement to the homes of HIV survivors, adoptive parents, and orphans. I was able to share, laugh, and even cry with the people of Rwanda. This experience has opened my eyes to the power of faith and love. I no longer want to travel any other way.

 

If you would like to sponsor a family in Rwanda like this one, please visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship

You can go to Rwanda and make an impact just like Tim. If you are interested in learning more about Orphan Care PEACE trips, please email orphans@saddleback.com.

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For the past two weeks an Orphan Care PEACE team has been serving in Rwanda, working with the local church to train social workers, teach churches about orphan care, and visit the homes of families who have adopted.

We asked one of our team members, Amy, to share a little of her experience on an orphan care PEACE trip and what it has meant to her. Below she recounts a day of home visits in Kigali:

 

"Pure & genuine religion in the sight of God means caring for orphans and widows in their distress." James 1:27

Today our Orphan Care PEACE team visited two homes and witnessed firsthand widows and orphans in distress. They are struggling each day for survival. I am in tears as I type this - words cannot describe the conditions they live in and the problems they face each day. Today definitely put things into perspective for me. 

We met an amazing woman named Josephine. Her husband was killed in the genocide and she was left alone with one son. Despite her own hardship, over the years she has taken in four additional kids whose parents died of AIDS. They don't have a house to call their own... so they have moved around a lot! Right now they are renting a space for 6 about the size of my closet. She struggles each trimester to pay the tuition for school.

When we visited her family, she had tears the whole time we were there because she felt like somebody cared. We brought a small bag filled with some basic food staples, and spent some time listening and praying for her.  

We also met Odetta, a grandmother caring for her grandchildren. Her daughter and son-in-law both died of AIDS. She also has taken in additional kids whose parents died of AIDS - five children all together. Her story is also filled with heartache from the genocide: her husband was killed and she has ongoing medical problems from her injuries. She was very grateful for the visit from us and the local church members, as well as the food that we provided.

I am humbled beyond measure to meet these sweet families who have very little, but have all taken in orphans. It has been an amazing day.

- Amy, Orphan Care PEACE trip member August 2013

Since Amy's visit, Josephine, Odetta and their families have been receiving support from the Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship. They now are able to provide for basic necessities, as well as school fees and medical insurance for their children. To learn how you can support an adoptive family in Rwanda, visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship.

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Our monthly Global Night is around the corner!  Join us Saturday, August 24 at 6:30 pm at the Lake Forest campus to learn more about PEACE and how you can get involved and go on an orphan care PEACE trip. The night will start in Tent 3, and then move to Rwanda breakout time in Tent 1.

Because of the great interest from Rwanda Rocks we are expecting a large crowd for the Rwanda gathering, and we invite you to come and be part of the evening and potluck! Join us to be encouraged and energized by a meeting filled with prayer, testimonies, and exciting stories of previous trip experiences. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Rwanda and get your questions answered by people who have already been. Sign up for an orphan care trip, and get information on what’s happening in 2014!

If you are interested in going on a PEACE Trip to Rwanda, have a heart to obey the Great Commission, or are passionate about praying for Rwanda; Global Night is for you! We hope to see you there!

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At last weekend’s Rwanda Rocks Rally, Pastor Rick introduced Saddleback to the new Board of Directors of the PEACE Plan Rwanda. The Board, which is comprised of leaders of all the major denominations in Rwanda, demonstrates the amazing and unprecedented unity that has been fostered in Rwanda as the Church comes together to address the needs of the community.

The Board thanked the over 1,200 Saddleback members who have traveled to Rwanda through PEACE. They shared the progress that the PEACE Plan has been making across the country, and cast vision for the future of PEACE as the movement spreads throughout the country and even is used as a model for other nations.

One of the major highlights of the developments being made is the work that is being done for the “Getting to Zero” campaign – the effort to empty all the orphanages across Rwanda by 2014 and place those children into caring, permanent families. Mary Kamanzi, who heads up the orphan care work in the Rwanda PEACE office, shared that the government is very grateful that the local churches are stepping up to support this goal and catching the vision that every child deserves a family of their own. 

If you would like to learn more about how you can see the amazing transformation for yourself by participating in an orphan care PEACE trip to Rwanda, email orphans@saddleback.com or call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555.

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Mark your calendars because you won’t want to miss Pastor Rick’s Rwanda Rocks Rally!

Gather your friends and family and head over to the Lake Forest Worship Center at 2pm on August 4th to hear what God is doing in the nation of Rwanda! Look forward to hearing from Pastor Rick and the Rwanda leadership team as they share how PEACE has dramatically impacted Rwanda over the last 7 years, and reveal their fresh vision for PEACE in Rwanda. This will be an incredible opportunity for our members to meet the new Rwandan PEACE Board of Directors, and hear from the leaders of the PEACE Plan in Rwanda, including Eric Munyemana, Moses Ndahiro , Pastor Emmanuel Karegyesa, and Mary Kamanzi, who heads up the orphan care work in the Rwanda PEACE office.

The Rwanda Rocks Rally is an exciting church-wide event where members of ALL regional campuses are invited to unite at the Lake Forest campus to celebrate! Come be encouraged by what God has done, experience Rwandan dancing, and get excited about what God has in store for Rwanda! If you have any questions, call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555. We hope to see you there!

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