Back to Work

Thanks for the click!

Here’s the prayer list:

  • NCM Retreat this weekend: unity after a time of stress, vision for the future, rest and fun together
  • Pirolo Family: setting boundaries and expectations better to prevent burnout
  • Pastoral Training School: we have a cohort of year 2 pastors coming on Monday.  We are recruiting for a new cohort to begin in January
  • CLIR: accreditation process requires effective recruiting, consensus building, and wisdom.  We are praying for favor before the government, and a wise group of accreditation auditors who will judge what and how we must adjust.
  • Team: WorldVenture teammates need prayer.  Eric’s new wife, Fabi needs a visa extension in the US. (She is Brazilian.) Laura is having health issues that limit her work capacity. She is so frustrated.

Pictures Promised

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Sumo is an almost graduate of CLIR.  We’re giving him some scholarship money to continue at a partner school.

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This is our General Assembly meeting (second of three in six weeks), where we approved our new statutes.  Yeah, bureaucracy isn’t my favorite.  What I learned, was that these men and women LOVE New Creation Ministries.

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NCM staff playing Jenga.  Pray Together, Plan Together, Play Together

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At this commissioning service for new pastors in the Nkurunziza denomination, I learned that 12 of the 17 pastors present (including denominational leaders and church founders) had been taught and mentored by NCM’s PTS Director Joseph Muyumbano (seated middle in the second Jenga picture).  He is a man of great influence in exactly the right way.

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Grace, Rayna and Luke washing vegetables with Phoebe.  One of many ways we work to prevent amoebas from growing in our tummies.

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Well, I guess we didn’t have two girl rabbits after all.

The True Gospel Makes a Difference

[Sorry, Prayer Team! I began writing this two and a half weeks ago and couldn’t get it finished before today.]

We are half way through our first term of CLIR, studying Man, Sin, and Salvation, so last week I asked students if they have any testimonies to share. Here is one paraphrased excerpt:

“I am a university teacher. In the past, I would hear my Muslim students and peers discussing the problems with Christianity, and I was afraid to get involved. Because of what I am learning in this class, I was emboldened to respond to their questions and ask them some challenging questions of my own. They were shocked and asked where I had learned this.”

Others spoke of new and deeper conversations with their families and friends. It is such a joy to see these students already growing in Christian leadership after only a month with us.

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Here’s the Cliff Notes, from the first day of class:

  1. God is holy and righteous.
  2. Humanity is sinful.
  3. God, in his holiness and righteousness, must punish sin.
  4. God, in his mercy and love, sent Jesus for sinners.
  5. Those who repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior are saved.
  6. Those who are saved by Jesus, live in Jesus.

Keep them in prayer as they study. It is a spiritual work that God is doing in their hearts and minds.  [In class last week, I challenged the students to repent of sin, and trust in the grace of God alone.  I called them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  No one spoke up that day, but in our conversations this week, I can tell that they have been reoriented (back?) to faith in Christ alone, and not any works or associations, to save them.]

Family

Continue to keep our family in prayer, too.

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Thank you all for your prayers over the last few months. It was a significantly difficult week before that last email.  The crazy thing was, after the email, after you all started praying, all the kids got sick, but in all that sickness, Krystal and I felt the presence of God keeping us at peace. Ministry these days continues to be an exercise of faith in God’s provision for health, strength, ministry, and fruit.

Do not stop praying! While it is tempting to give in to compassion fatigue, know that your prayers are lifting us up in the storm.

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Krystal

This past year has been one of refocusing for Krystal. As you know, she taught in CLIR last term, and this term she began mentoring a CLIR student. She continues to facilitate a bible study with women from church. She also serves as our team leader, helping us new leaders grow into our roles and offering support and accountability. Finally, Krystal has returned to working in Nyabisindu clinic caring for pregnant moms and doing health checks with babies. She is wearing a lot of hats and uses a day-planner well to keep her days and weeks organized.

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Team Retreat

A generous donor sponsored a retreat for our WorldVenture Rwanda team. We spent three days and two nights at a hotel working with a guest speaker to understand each other and our team culture. Krystal and I have believed that God has called us to be “better together” as a married couple. The same holds true for our team. God has put us together lift each other up and be strong where the other is weak. On the retreat, we experienced the joy of getting to “play” together, but also to know each other more deeply so that we can have greater grace with each other.

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CLIR Status

We were looking for 30, but God brought 24 for this term. Already, I have heard of students contacting their friends to apply. Who knows who God will bring for term 2?

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As we pray for students, we also pray for staff. We have several teachers who are scheduled to teach, but may face trouble. We have one teacher who must finish his Masters degree just before he teaches. Another is finishing his Doctorate abroad. Another three (two staff, one teacher) are abroad on medical emergencies. Another, a skilled disciple-maker in the Pastoral Training School in Kinyarwanda, will be solo teaching in English at the Bachelors level for the first time. Also joining our NCM teaching staff, a new family transferring from Mali to Kigali in September. For all this uncertainty, praise God with us for the growth and development and healing that it represents. God is good.

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Finally, as we consider the process of accreditation and program development, pray that we would do so with wisdom, based on a spiritually discerned strategy that fits with the purpose of New Creation Ministries and the real needs of the Rwandan church.

 

CLIR Christmas and New Year Plans

On Saturday December 15, we hosted a Christmas Party for our CLIR students, especially those who had completed two full years in our program.  I can’t tell you how encouraging that night was!  Each of those students gave a short speech, saying things like:

  • If I had to be done with CLIR right now, without the degree, I would not be disappointed because the program has already been so very transformative in my life.
  • Learning about the Christian Life and Family messed with my head!  I had to put off my wedding (which was two months away) for another eight months, because I knew that my fiancé and I needed a better foundation.  And now, I’m so glad we did.
  • Through the discipleship I have had at CLIR, I have been inspired to begin evangelizing and discipling my parents and siblings.
  • Being at CLIR has influenced how I am as a pastor. I believe that what NCM is teaching and how it is teaching is a light in all of Rwanda that will cause a shift. It is moving all of Rwanda closer to the true gospel.

Our whole team was touched and blessed to hear the testimonies of changed lives, families and ministries.  This is the work of discipleship to which God has called us.  This is our joy.  This is the work you support through your prayers and giving.  This is God’s work and God’s ministry.  May he open the door for more changed lives through CLIR.

A Not Very Good Meeting

Many of you were praying for an important meeting last Monday.  Thank you! That meeting was jarring, to say the least.

We arrived early, but couldn’t find the man to whom we were referred.  Turns out we were given the wrong name. When we did find who we were scheduled to meet he wasn’t available because the whole staff was leaving immediately for a two-day work trip.

I sat in the lobby with Eric, Director of New Creation Ministries, working out a strategy for next steps, and calling to make another appointment when a man came up to help us.  He eventually identified himself as the Executive Director of the Higher Education Council.  He asked us where we were from, and asked if we already had students.  He then advised us that we needed to stop teaching immediately because we were breaking the law.  We left amiably, hiding our crushed spirits.  “That was worse than I imagined it could be.”

I spoke with Krystal. Eric spoke with his fiancé, Fabi. We all prayed.  And felt something significant was happening.  None of us started this ministry.  All of us are standing on the shoulders of giants who worked hard and prayed hard to found these schools.  The roots of NCM were laid through impossible situations and each leader before us had to come to a place of realizing that this ministry is not ours but God’s and he will use it to bring himself glory.  Now it is our turn to persevere in prayer, in spite of opposition, to see God receive the greater glory.  Remember that Moses was told to confront Pharaoh, and told that Pharaoh would oppose him, so that God would be glorified all the more (Exodus 10:1-2).  So too, we are engaged in a spiritual battle that will test our faith, and God will be glorified.

Our Rwandan colleagues and American mentors were not discouraged, but had three important pieces of information. They said, this is the time of annual reviews for ministries, and his department has to present to the President of Rwanda.  They are very busy.  Also, their executive director knows how to manage a department, but doesn’t know our specific situation as well as the application processor who has been working with us for months.  Also, there are hundreds of non-accredited schools in Rwanda, religious and secular, that will not all be closed down immediately. Finally, NCM is registered like a church (Local Religious NGO) and we were told in 2012 that churches are free to offer their own training programs.

Plan

There was confusion about who we were (an already registered organization), and what we were asking.  It is also possible that the new policies have been written, and just not published. Either way, we need to wait until February to have a conversation with someone.  We will continue with finding people to disciple.

As I said, this is God’s ministry and he will keep it.  There are too many pieces to try to manage all on my own, so I need to trust my team, trust the Spirit leading me, and trust God’s providence to maintain us in the favor of the ones who rule.

Please continue to pray for these upcoming meetings!  Pray for understanding between us and the Higher Education Council. Pray for grace. Pray that we will be able to become one of the first Christian degree programs to be accredited in Rwanda. And pray that we would be faithful to the ministry God has called us to do here in Rwanda.

Merry Christmas!

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Gary, Barb, Grace, Rayna, Laura, Eric, Fabi, Nick, Krystal, Luke

Noheli Nziza!

Prayer List:

  • Pray for our future meetings with the Department of Higher Education –we would like to become accredited so that people who would like to teach in churches could have a education that is gospel focused
  • Pray for CLIR student admission
  • Pray for Nick as he prepares to teach in the New Year
  • Pray for our team as we have two families on our team in the States on medical leave
  • Pray for our fellowship tomorrow as we host our celebration at our house

Ministry Growth or Ministry Death

We are at a crossroads in Rwanda.  The government is seeking to crackdown on illegal churches and other non-profits that abuse their position to avoid taxes and take advantage of Rwandans.  The next step may have serious consequences for our ministry.

The government is writing a law that will require pastors to have education.  It says, “A religious teacher [at the national or district level] must have a bachelors degree in theology, or another bachelors degree plus a legal certificate in theology given by a legal school.”  Lower level pastors will still need some training, but not as strict.  There has been some pushback from church leaders asking for the law to be revised before being passed.

Our ministry is primarily discipleship, but our method is “schooling.”  We have a Pastoral Training School, and our university-level program (Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda).  In both, we provide top-notch education, but how the law is written can greatly impact us.

Depending on how this law is written:

  • We could see tremendous enrollment in both programs as pastors seek to meet the education requirement.
  • We could see enrollment dry up, if we do not meet the standards decided by the government.
  • We could see our program diluted, if we have to significantly adapt our programs to the new law.
  • We could see our program suffer, if we have an influx of people who simply want the piece of paper (certificate of completion). Our time will be spent grading excess papers instead of mentoring the true disciples.

Pray with us that God would use this legislation as a blessing to his church in Rwanda.  Pray that he would continue to use New Creation Ministries as we help the church of Rwanda function as a the Body of Christ. As we prepare for a new enrollment at CLIR in January, pray with us that God would bring the right people for us to invest in.

Teaching

We are entering a busy time for teaching between mid-August and mid-March.  Nick is prepping to teachOld Testament Theologystarting in August.  The Old Testament is often misunderstood and usually misapplied to the church in Rwanda.  Pray for Nick as he helps the students wrestle with what the Old Testament actually teaches the church.

Pray also for Krystal, who will teach Self-Leadershipbeginning in October.  She has a Masters in Leadership from Denver Seminary, and lots of experience leading in a secular environment.  This course focuses on being a person of integrity as you lead, and Krystal will get to teach some of the most powerful lessons she has learned as a leader.

Family

Luke is 4.5 months old now and has started playing with his feet.  He loves laughing with his mommy and talking to his sisters.  Rayna is 2.5 years old, and she has taken to copying EVERYTHING Grace does, for better or worse.  She is a great hugger, and has lots of desire to talk, but struggles with a limited vocabulary.  Grace just turned 6 and is stretching her wings for independence.  She is learning to read, loves having chapter books read to her (Geronimo Stiltonand the Hardy Boys!), and enjoys being creative with all her craft supplies.

Krystal’s ankle has improved significantly by identifying some good diet changes.  Nick has good intentions of running twice a week.

I read recently “You have only 18 delicious summers with each child.”  On the other hand, our list of things to get done seems to increase daily. Pray that we would make each day count for eternity, balancing family and ministry needs.

Finances

We are so grateful for your continued sacrificial giving toward this work in Rwanda.  We notice each dollar, and we appreciate your vital part in this ministry.

Some people have experienced difficulty giving online.  Over the next few weeks, our sending organization, WorldVenture, will be rebuilding the online giving function.  If you already have automatic giving set up, that will continue.  However, we won’t be able to receive special gifts or new sign ups online until it is fully built.  If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, we can receive mailed checks.  We’ll keep you posted on when it’s back up.

Care Packages

If you ever wanted to send us a care package, this is the time!  We have two friends offering us space in their luggage!  Send us an email and we’ll get you the address for our friends.

Thankful

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we wanted to share with you our Top 5 List of things we’re thankful for these days. (Not necessarily in order of our gratitude.)

#5. Family!

The big news is we are pregnant!

 

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We are expecting a baby boy in late March.  From the 20 week ultrasound, mom and baby look healthy.

Grace and Rayna continue to bring joy to our lives.  Our family traveled to Cape Town in late September to attend a WorldVenture conference. While it interrupted school for Grace and Nick, it became a refreshing break from the hundred little things that had been wearing on each of us. After the conference, we stayed a few more days to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Both of us grew up on the beach (San Diego and Port Townsend), so it filled us up, seeing our daughters play in the sand and waves.

Finally, our parents are visiting! We are excited to host Krystal’s mom in December, and Nick’s mom in March.

#4. Church!

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Grace and Rayna in Sunday School

In October, we were invited by several friends to attend a young Kinyarwanda church called Gospel Community Church. This church understands the Gospel, has sound theology, and is excited for outreach, evangelism, and missions. Krystal has begun attending a cell group on Tuesday nights (while Nick keeps an eye on the girls). This is a church where we feel fed, and we believe this church will play a strategic role in the future of discipleship in Rwanda. It is a joy to be part of a healthy church!

#3. Ministry!

We are so thankful for the meaningful work God has us in and the people we serve.

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CLIR Students

I (Nick) successfully finished a term teaching Systematic Theology, and then a term teaching Teaching and Educational Ministries at New Creation Ministries. Some of my students have far reaching influence in Rwanda, and are now better equipped to teach the truth of God’s word.

Krystal has a new title at Iranzi: Mentor to Midwives. She continues her work at the prenatal outreach clinic, and has taken a more intentional step toward observing and coaching the Rwandan staff.

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Krystal teaching a group of midwives about labor support

#2. Matching Grant!

Our hearts fill with gratitude knowing that, for the second year in a row, a donor has offered to match all new sponsorships of pastors in our Pastoral Training School (PTS) made by December 31! After the pastors pay their $80 annual school tuition, there remains about $1800 per student to fund their education and discipleship. While that is only $150 per month, with 35 pastors expected to begin in January, that is more than we can bear alone.   This matching grant makes it easier for new sponsors to give.

If you are interested in more information, a brochure is linked below. And the sponsorship link below that. Every dollar helps! Krystal and I are so excited about this, we have already committed to sponsor a portion of a pastor’s training.

Pastoral Sponsorship Information

Pastoral Sponsorship Donation

#1. YOU!

We’ve often quoted Philippians 1:3-5 to you: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”   And it is true. We are thankful for each of you who has given your time, prayers, and finances, to see the gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom of God, spread throughout Rwanda. You are PARTNERS with us, we are yoked together. We rise or fall together, but by God’s grace, we are rising, and we hearing God’s name glorified in the nations. Krystal and I are so thankful for you and we couldn’t be here or do what we do without you.img_5189

There you have it, our top 5 things we are thankful for this year. What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments below.

God at Work

God’s Work in Our Lives

Our pastor, Jim Rosenquist of Calvary Community Church in Port Townsend, is preaching powerfully out of Jeremiah!  Jeremiah was a prophet for 40 years from the time of Josiah until the exile.  What is fascinating was that as Josiah was initiating reforms, Jeremiah preached against the apparently devout, those going to the temple, saying that they worship with their lips, while doing personal and social evil (Jeremiah 7).  Ultimately, Jeremiah’s people were exiled to Babylon, and his sorrow is recorded in Lamentations.

Jeremiah Icon copyright St. Isaac's Skete

Jeremiah
Icon copyright St. Isaac’s Skete

Let revival begin at the house of God!  Be involved in doing justice in the world, but don’t rely on external restrain of evil to bring about revival.  Only the Holy Spirit changing people’s hearts can bring true reform.  In this vein, I (Nick) have been convicted to pray for OUR nation.  May believers seek him, be changed in his presence, and bring that good news of transformation to the world, beginning in our churches, then our cities.

God’s Work Through Our Lives

God has blessed me (Nick) in my discipleship work.  I have finished reading through Matthew, Acts, Galatians, and 1 & 2 Peter with the two young adults.  Now we are reading through Revelation.  Pray for us that God would transform our lives as we study his word.

Work at the hospital has been tough but good.  Once again, it is hard going from an area of nursing in which I (Krystal) was fluent (medical-surgical) to a new specialty (labor and delivery), and being aware of how much I still have to learn.  God is giving me grace as I develop friends at the hospital and good working relationships with my supervisors.

God’s Work in Rwanda

Pastoral Training School Graduation 2013

Pastoral Training School Graduation 2013

New Creation Ministries was proud to have 26 graduates from our pastoral training program in December.  On January 27, they began teaching a new cohort of 38 pastors.  It is more than usual, but it was difficult to weed any of these out.  Pray both them and their teachers.  Gary Scheer commented, “We know from their entrance applications that many of them do not know the Gospel.  Pray that all might come to know Christ as Savior genuinely during this term.”

Construction on Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda (CLIR)

Construction on Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda (CLIR)

Construction on the new classrooms and library for CLIR is underway.  Pray that the work would continue smoothly and that the funding would continue to be provided.

Appeal for Referrals

It's a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life

When we talk with people about how they can partner with us we always mention referrals.  To quote Clarence the Angel from It’s A Wonderful Life, “No one is poor who has friends.”  We’ve mentioned quite a few prayer requests today, and here is one more: Pray about those you know.  Who needs to know about God’s work in Rwanda?  Let us know.

Blessings,

Nick and Krystal Pirolo