Thursday, February 26, 2009

A note from Pilar

Hey everybody. We managed to find an internet connection this evening. Hoping that we will be able to keep in touch more often as the week progresses. However, we are learning that internet can come and go without notice here.

Pilar recently added a new post to our team blog at Take a few moments and click to that site for the latest info and some pictures too!


Checking in...

Hey all. I hope you are doing well! I wanted to let you know that I arrived safely and without glitch on Tuesday. It was certainly a long travel experience…somewhere over 18 hours in all. However, I made every flight on time and arrived in Kigali with luggage in tow. Thank you for your many prayers!

I am really sorry that I am only now able to update you. The internet connection is sparce at best and intermittently comes and goes. When we have connection, we will do our very best to send updates.

This afternoon was pretty emotional. We had the opportunity to visit with a ministry of the Harvest Church called “Bethsaida.” It is an association of women and men who are suffering from HIV/AIDs. Many of those who participate in the association live and work at the residence. Together they weave baskets, sew dresses and make other clothing to make the income necessary to sustain their lives as they battle this disease. I can not fully express what I feel as a result of that encounter. I am struck by their courage. I am struck by their peace. I am struck by their efforts. I am struck by their love. More than once I was moved to tears considering their reality. What moved me most was to look among these remarkable people and watch scores of their children run and play in our midst. Children who will face the pain of loss long before they should. Children who will be forced to learn how to cook and work and toil when they should be laughing, jumping and skipping rope. It is the sobering reality of the destruction that accompanies HIV/AIDs. It is an unspeakable horror.

However, the hope that was present in that room was supernatural. The association provides them with housing, limited nutrition, life skills that create income and mostly, dignity. In a culture that would likely assign them scorn – Bethsaida reminds them that they are children of God, within the loving reach of a compassionate Heavenly Father!

I think I will have more to share about this experience after some time passes and thoughts settle. For now, I would invite you to pray for the efforts being made through the ministry of the Bethsaida HIVAIDs Association!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

P.E.A.C.E in Rwanda

This is my first post about a part of my life that is becoming more significant by the day. I am partially embarrassed that I have not written more about this issue. But then again my thoughts and emotions have been particularly introspective for some time. It seems only now that I am beginning to discover how to communicate about a growing awareness of the under resourced in our world.

For the past year or so, Pilar and I have joined many throughout Manchester Christian Church in seeking God for an increased awareness of the plight of the poor. It seems to be an appropriate quest for anyone seeking to experience life as if Jesus was living in your shoes. Jesus himself spent a significant portion of his earthly ministry among the poor. In fact, he himself came from modest beginnings and seemed to always have one eye and his whole heart turned to their plight throughout his life.

But this is such a contrast to the way I live.

It is in contrast to the way I pursue ministry. It is in contrast to the things that capture my attention on any given day. I guess I mostly identify with the cravings that I John 2:15-17 warns against - cravings of the flesh, of the many possessions that one can accumulate in life and, of course, a craving for approval motivated by pride. John clearly instructs that all such cravings are passing away. However, it is the man or woman who has learned to crave the things that please God who will discover eternal life - both the kingdom kind of life in the here and now and for all of time in communion with God.

So for nearly a year now, we have been searching for that kind of life. Along the way, there have been moments of remarkable clarity and still other times when we have been left confused, questioning or with an internal struggle because the gospel of the 'American Dream' that we know so well is being challenged.

But now a years worth of searching takes on a new dimension. This week, we will board a plane in Boston, MA headed for Kigali, Rwanda. During the more than 16 hours of flight, we will travel from the now to the not yet. From the prosperous American now, to the compassion, generosity and love that is not yet fully realized in my life.

We are hopeful that these next couple of weeks will begin to solidify more of 'Christ in me' that we have yet to know in our life. We are hopeful that we will be up for the challenge.\ Hopeful that we are prepared to embrace the many ways God may be looking to revolutionize our life, our family, our church and our world.

So what will we be doing in Kigali Rwanda? Good question. The best answer I can give you is: listen. We will spend several days in Kigali listening for direction and discernment - on behalf of our community of faith at Manchester Christian Church. Along with nine other team members, we will travel and meet pastors, victims of HIV/AIDs, children who lost parents in the 1994 genocide, women who are fighting the dehumanization of rape at the hands of rebel forces. We will meet women who are learning to sew, or weave to provide resources to provide for their HIV/AIDs medications. We will meet children who make greeting cards to make enough money to support their brothers and sisters, all orphaned by the atrocity that was the 1994 genocide. We will spend at least one day meeting with a group of pastoral leaders, organized to form the Rwandan PEACE committee. This group of leaders has been charged by Rwanda's President, Paul Kigami to implement the P.E.A.C.E plan throughout the country. It is an effort to see the local church, in Rwanda and abroad, mobilized into action. The goal is to see their country choose reconciliation and servant leadership over hate and corruption. We will listen to their stories, follow them to various corners of their country, observe the many efforts they are making to bring peace to their people and discern how an American church in Manchester NH might benefit from their love and contribute to their cause.

But mostly, it will be a spirit of listening that characterizes this adventure.

In the next several days, we hope to post more thoughts and insights and hopefully a picture or two as we encounter the great country of Rwanda. You may also stay updated at as well. Several will be posting thoughts on this team blog throughout the trip. Please join us in praying for God to do more than I could possibly ask or imagine.

Josh and Pilar