This mystery word from the psalms often appears untranslated in our modern texts. It is probably a musical term, and comes at transitions in the text, such as between stanzas. So think, “Bridge” or “Musical Interlude” or maybe even “Dance and Scream Until the Lyrics Start Again.” I have a friend, a contemplative, who was convinced it meant “Pause and Reflect.”
We have been in a busy season, taking on teaching from absent teachers and administrative duties from absent administrators. We were persevering, in the strength of the Lord, and refusing to burn out, rather letting the extraneous “work” fall away in this season. And yet, we did not see light at the end of the tunnel.
Rwanda has been seeking to regulate churches and has required that Rwandan Church leaders (National level representatives and local church pastors) must have education from an accredited religious school. Since 2017, the word has slowly morphed. Pastors should be educated. Pastors MUST be educated. Religious schools should become accredited. Religious schools MUST be accredited. And last month, the Higher Education Council of Rwanda widely published a notice that all non-accredited schools teaching at a post-secondary level MUST STOP.
Our CLIR program is a bit of a hybrid, since we do not offer degrees, but do offer an academic program. Our ministry exists to “help the church of Rwanda function as the body of Christ,” and does so with a primary strategy of discipling for church leaders using the mode of educational programs. We have always been happily below the radar, while impacting pastors, their families, their churches and their communities. This model has worked well for us over the years. Do we really NEED to change?
After three 12-hour days of meetings, the answer is a decided YES.
We’re in the musical interlude between one season and the next.
We MUST pause CLIR.
So we rejoice. Because of the government, the unsustainable pace will not continue. AND now we can focus on laying a solid foundation for CLIR as an accredited religious school. AND we can build something great. While we can’t keep doing what we have been doing, being forced to change will help us sharpen our edge, evaluate the context of ministry in Rwanda, and address our program to the current needs of the church. I believe that what an accredited CLIR program has to offer is a significantly better training for pastoral ministry than any other training available in Rwanda.
AND we also groan in our spirits. Transition can be hard. We have seen significant transition in leadership, and now we are seeing significant transition in ministry opportunity.
In the meantime, please pray:
- that our students wouldn’t become discouraged, but would be patient and faithful in the waiting; and that we find places for them to study in the interim.
- for discernment, perseverance, unity and joy for our staff team and leadership as we pursue accreditation, wade through bureaucracy, etc.
- that meeting the requirements for accreditation wouldn’t require program changes that hinder our ability to fulfill NCM’s mission
- that we do not act out of fear or “catastrophize,” but would seek the Lord for vision and direction
- that God would provide for all of our needs (finances, connections, favor, staff, etc.)
- that our ministry and work would come from the overflow of abiding in Jesus
Thank you for your partnership in this work! The Lord is using your prayers, words of encouragement, and contributions to have a profound impact in Rwanda.