Back in August, we asked you to join us in praying for very specific people, projects, and plans at New Creation Ministries. I’m putting them here as a memorial. This is what and whom we have prayed for. Let’s see what God does!
This month was fun with two weeks of “quarantine” in Manson, WA. And our return to Port Townsend.
A few months ago, we asked you to pray that God would keep our kids healthy. Then they got sick and God walked us through that time with grace and faith. Over the last year, we have mentioned that our WorldVenture Teammates, the Janzens, home on medical leave. We have been praying for their healing and soon return. And early last month we received word that the required ongoing medical care they need just isn’t available in Rwanda. They will not be returning to work with us.
We have had over a month to process this. We discussed it with our team, our supervisors, trusted friends. Krystal and I spend some significant time fasting and praying for clarity and vision in light of this news. We asked the tough question, “Is this God’s way of telling us to stop?”
The short answer is no. God wants us to continue.
It was beautiful seeing how God would bring us each to the same passage in our separate Bible studies. What a time for spiritual growth! And what a blessing to be in it together with Krystal!
A couple of highlights were:
2 Corinthians 4:7-10—But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Back to the Question
God isn’t telling us to stop by making things hard. He is reminding us that the work is HIS from first to last. God is returning us to a visceral awareness of our dependence on him. To attempt to do anything in our own strength would be suicide. To steal from our Sabbath to get work done, to forget our quiet time because we are too busy would be to undermine the very source of our wisdom and strength, and would undercut the fruitfulness of the labor.
We pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers. (Matthew 9:38) And we see people on the horizon. Our teammate, Laura, has June 18 penciled in as a return date. A Southern Baptist family are due to arrive in Rwanda in August and begin at NCM in March. A Rwandan PhD student, Apollo, plans to return to work with us in 2020. Our lack of missionary teachers has opened the door and opened our eyes to various qualified Rwandans to teach with us as visiting teachers.
We will work wisely, strategically, and diligently, but we will work first from a place of dependence on God to bring the increase. (1 Corinthians 3) This means more delegating, empowering, training, coaching, and trusting our Rwandan colleagues. I also have responsibilities as a husband and a father, and as a Christian in community and at church. I must use my hours wisely.
Pray for Us
Pray that we are able to live out our belief in God’s provision.
Pray that God would keep unity within our family, within WorldVenture, and within New Creation Ministries. Jealousy, anger, dissention, and the other “fruit of the flesh” (Gal 5) are Satan’s way to undermine the work of God.
Pray that God would give us favor as we create a 5-year strategic plan. Pray for wisdom as we modify our programs to meet the needs of the Rwandan church. Pray for our plans for financial sustainability. Pray for God to bring the right workers to NCM.
Pray for me, Nick, as I teach Global Missions to my CLIR students over the summer, and for Krystal as she prepares her course on Making Leaders. The work is indeed sweet.
We are grateful for your partnership in this ministry. Understand that God uses your prayers to bring about dramatic change in the hearts of Rwandans.
We will send out an email, soon, with a CLIR student testimony, and a request for donations toward our CLIR scholarship fund. Pray with us for generous giving.
While we post here regularly with pictures and stories, sometimes we send quick updates by email only. If you didn’t get 3 emails from us this month, you aren’t on that list, and you aren’t in the know. Sign up here.
Here’s a picture from last Christmas. Stay tuned for an updated picture including Luke.
Good: Some Praises!
Family is fine. Krystal and I have made room in our busy schedule for dates. The kids are healthy (since Luke recovered form Malaria). Grace is reading “Fancy Nancy.” Rayna is using the potty chair…most of the time. Luke is eating solids and has slept through the night three times this week.
Work and ministry is rewarding. I was able to preach a sermon to my church on 1 John 2:28-3:10. I have finished teaching Old Testament Theology (now to grade papers and finals…). I have been enjoying many aspects of my new administrative responsibilities, including interacting with donors and interviewing potential students for our 2019 cohort at CLIR.
Bad: Not really bad, but in need of prayer
Krystal is 10 days away from teaching her first university level course, on Self-Leadership. She knows the message, but she lacks experience in the classroom, so she is nervous. Pray for her.
Pray that we get the right students for CLIR in 2019.
Ugly: Some Significant Stressors
While life is full and good, there are three really important areas in which the “rules” are changing in Rwanda, and we have to adapt. Our coworker Laura explained it very clearly; with her permission, here are her observations.
We need your prayers as we try to figure out these new rules and how to adjust accordingly. Would you pray with us?
The Rwandan Church
At the end of September, a pastor named Gitwaza announced that he is the greatest prophet in all of Rwanda and Africa. (This article highlights what he said and also gives some interesting insight into the confusion over prophecy that is so prevalent here.) He is the epitome of the bad theology that we are fighting against. He prophesies over those who give him their money and property and claims that they will receive healing, wealth, cars, education, etc. The government issued an official response decrying such statements, challenging church leaders to teach sound doctrine and warning people about such churches. There is concern that all churches will be seen in the same light as churches like Gitwaza’s and that there will be repercussions for all of us.
Pray that the Church would know and love Scripture. Pray that the Church would speak up against false teaching and self-serving leadership, so the government doesn’t have to intervene. Pray that this incident would not lead to further regulations.
At the end of August, a new law was passed stating that preachers must have either a college degree in religious studies or any college degree plus a certificate in religious studies from a “recognized institution.” The problem is that they haven’t said which institutions qualify as “recognized” or what the process is for being “recognized.” In visiting offices to get more information, we’re hearing lots of personal opinions, but little in the way of concrete requirements. It is crucial for New Creation Ministries to qualify as a recognized institution, but we do not know what (if any) changes they might require us to make.
Pray that we would connect with government officials who can bring authoritative clarity about these regulations. Pray that our interactions with them would be favorable. Pray that any necessary changes would be possible and would not require us to compromise our core values.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
This summer, new income tax laws went into effect. NGOs like WorldVenture Rwanda (our missionary team’s legal entity in Rwanda) are particularly affected. We are having to make significant changes to our entire financial system/process, which has big implications for the way we live life and do ministry here in Rwanda.
Pray that we would find wise legal counsel to help us understand and think through our options. Pray that this would not result in an undue financial burden at the end of this year or moving forward.
In the midst of these three situations, we are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and powerless. Pray that our team would trust the Lord’s sovereign hand to guide and provide all that we need, just as he has always done.
Prayer: Krystal’s Ankle
She broke it on December 28, and while she can walk without crutches, she needs an ankle brace and it still troubles her. Please pray for healing so that she can exercise again.
Praise: Our Baby Boy Is Healthy
We had you pray about Luke’s neck. He is 100% better. He has grown out of newborn clothes, and is sleeping more at night, much to our delight. His sisters LOVE him.
Prayer: Teammates Leaving the Field
Over the Summer, we will drop (temporarily) from a team of 10 with over 60 years of experience in Rwanda to a team of 4 with only 8 years of experience. The Brubakers are transitioning to ministry in the US. The Bennetts are staying the Summer in the US to help their college age girls acclimate to life in the US. And the Janzens needed to return to the US for medical reasons. Pray for smooth transitions, and joyful acclimation, and restorative healing.
Pray also for the four of us who remain. We are assuming extra responsibility and roles of authority which remind us daily of our inadequacy. Pray that we will indeed use these reminders turn to God for strength and wisdom.
Praise: Our Parents Came to Visit
We had a wonderful time with Krystal’s mom in December/January and with Nick’s mom in March/April. Our daughters loved seeing them, and getting so many presents from the US through them. Nick’s mom loved getting to hold baby Luke.
Prayer: Nick is Running CLIR
When Dan Janzen left, Nick was appointed as “Interim Director of the Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda.” That’s right, Nick is running (temporarily), the gears of the University. In many ways, it is a well oiled machine, with great leaders and great teachers already in place. However, there is scheduling, student meetings, board meetings, policy revision, and decisions to be made. Pray for wisdom, strength, and grace to lead well.
Praise: God Provides What We Need, When We Need
Dan’s emergency meant that the schedule needed adjusting and someone needed to teach in CLIR this term. With amazing wisdom and flexibility from the team, we were able to create a revised schedule. Nick was able to step-in and teach Teaching and Educational Ministries to this new cohort. So far the class is going great.
Prayer: Church Closures in Rwanda Continue
Beginning in March, the Rwandan government began enforcing laws against unregistered, unsafe, noisy and (my word) unprofessional churches. Churches have been closed for using buildings not up to code, not enough bathrooms, no soundproofing, not enough paved parking, and other requirements. There have not been any official updates since my last email; 714 churches (and 1 mosque) closed out of about 1450 churches in Kigali. However, ministry colleagues report that over 6000 churches have been closed country wide. Many of the pastors we teach, and all of our bi-vocational Rwandan teachers, have had their churches closed. Sunday worship service has been closed for about half of Rwanda, including our own church!
We miss the sweet worship together with these dear people. We have been blessed by the faithful and passionate preaching of the gospel we heard there, and the heart of discipleship among the elders. But we, too, are without a place to meet because the school hall in which we were meeting has been declared unacceptable. Pray that wise and godly pastors would reimagine how to be shepherds to their sheep, and that bad pastors would indeed be rooted out.
Along with the closures, there is talk of creating a requirement that churches must have a pastor with a theological degree. At this point it is unclear how much education will be necessary, but this might create a great influx of pastors eager for a degree, but not eager for education or discipleship. The government is becoming “hands on” with religious institutions, and there might be other regulations that impact NCM more directly. There is opportunity and risk in the future. Pray for wisdom and grace.
Prayer: English Teacher Needed
We have a significant need for 2019. We need someone to teach English (ESL) to our rural pastors in the PTS, and teach a college level reading, research and writing course. This person must have a masters degree or higher (in any subject). This person also should be adaptable to new situations, able to work well on a team, and spiritually mature. We are interested in discipling Rwandans, and we do that as a priority in the context of higher education. Does this sound like you or someone you love or someone you want to see deported? Come work with us for 2 years or more!
Thank you again for your prayers
Here’s our boy! Krystal was able to have a water birth at Iranzi Clinic, where she volunteers. He came into the world a few weeks before his due date, but healthy. He eats, he sleeps, he pees and poops.
Since his birth, he has developed a cyst on his neck that seems painful. Trusted doctors here recommended hospitalization to drain the cyst and IV antibiotics. Yet, the risk of poor care at the hospital outweighs the upside benefit of a hospital. We’re hoping the have an plan by tonight. Meanwhile, pray with us for a quick healing, wise and capable medical professionals, and peace.
Also pray for our girls as they discover their new roles as big sisters. They love their brother, but not having to share their mom.
Churches Being Closed
Many churches have been operating “illegally” and there has been a recent crack down. Of about 1450 churches in Kigali, over 700 have been closed for various reasons including not having a paved parking lot, insufficient toilet facilities, weak building structure (including tent churches) and not having at least a hectare of land. A few PTS students, and several of our staff have had their churches closed.
Our staff have processed this with our students extremely well. They can close the building, but they cannot close the congregation! You can’t gather in that one place, but you can still have small groups and Bible studies. The pastor is still the shepherd of his flock, even if he doesn’t preach on Sunday!
More closures and more laws are in the works. They are working on a law that may require theological education for any who want to call themselves a pastor and lead a church. It’s a mixed blessing, but NCM’s model of educating and discipling pastors and church leaders might soon fulfill a government mandate! Pray for us as we mentor these pastors and church leaders, as we work out new ways of serving the congregation.
Nick preached a sermon on Isaiah 5 at our church. “God is a diligent farmer who prepares, provides for, protects, AND PRUNES his vine, his people, to Produce good fruit.” Originally scheduled for March 18, he switched to March 4 to be done before the baby came. Luke came Feb 28. Good thing he was mostly prepared!
On Feb 17, we had a ceremony to honor our graduating class from our Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda (CLIR)!
Also, keep praying for healing for Krystal’s ankle. The Physical Therapist is hopeful in that there is strength in the muscle (power), but the connective tissue needs to rebuild (balance). Pray for Krystal as she limits her activities to promote healing.
As always, thanks for your prayers.
Although I don’t recommend breaking your leg…in Rwanda…on safari…the first time you have a family member visit…while you are 7 months pregnant, God has showed me his goodness in many ways. We have had the great support of community gather around us and lift us up. We have had our Rwandan friends come to the hospital with us to advocate for us and sit with us, we have had a nurse from our mission advocate for us with insurance, we have had friend bring countless meals, drop in for visits and offer to drive me places so that I don’t go crazy. We have had teammates drop everything to help us with our kiddos when we have had hospital visits, x-rays and meetings. We have had workers help keep a little 2 year old and 5 year old busy playing so that they don’t go crazy. We have a church that lifts me up every week in prayer. We have had specialists consult on my case from all over the world. And we have had a God who has supplied an abundance of grace and resilience in our family and especially for me during this time. This month has been one of the hardest I’ve experienced but I can see the way God has used his good work in me to make me thankful and joyful in the midst of the hard things, exhausting and scary things.
- 9 Days until Krystal’s cast comes off (she is counting it down to the hours!)
- 34 Pastors attending our Pastoral Training School (PTS)
- 3 Pastors at PTS who currently understand the Gospel (vs. works righteousness)
- 2 Years the Pirolos have been in Rwanda
- 7 Weeks until our baby boy is born
We began our year with three major transitions. First, our colleague Dan Janzen took over leadership of the Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda, the university program at New Creation Ministries. Next, Krystal took over leadership of our WorldVenture team in Rwanda. Finally, Eric Flaa, another colleague, was elected Director of NCM. All these positions are opening up because ONE person is stepping down: Tim Brubaker. He is scheduled for a transition to ministering in America. He and his family will be missed, and he is leaving big shoes to fill. Three of us, to make one of him. Pray for us as we use this time of transition of leadership to refine programs, develop staff, and double down on discipling students.
Giving … Your Time
This month, we want to highlight different way you can be involved in what God is doing in Rwanda. Many of you give financially. More of you pray. Perhaps, one or two of you want to come to Rwanda! We have positions open for short-term, mid-term, and long-term workers here.
Do you want to come work with us? Here’s a list of what where looking for:
- Bible College Teacher / Discipler
- Teacher/Discipler of Church Leaders
- Children & Youth Worker
- Discipler of Women
- English Language Teacher (ESL)
- Landscape Architect (multiple short, or mid-term)
- NCM Promoter and Fund-Raiser
- Projects Manager & Administrative Coordinator
- University Librarian
- Short-term construction/fabrication team
- Short-term perinatal team
- Short-term VBS team
The bulk of what we do is tied to discipling Rwandans at New Creation Ministries. More and more, we see the need for professionals from all walks of life to be involved in the process. If you are interested in learning more, click a link above, or shoot us an email. We pray that “the Lord of the harvest would send workers” to Rwanda.
That’s a bit of a misnomer, since Nick is doing the legwork and driving of two parents, and it takes Krystal twice as long to get anything done. However, Krystal has had to take a break from her ministry at Iranzi and Nyabisindu to heal well. Thank God the cast comes off on February 8! Nick is between classes, and has class prep time for his classes on Old Testament Theology and Missions.
- Continue to pray for the health of Krystal and Baby –both that Krystal’s ankle would continue to heal well and that pregnancy would continue to go well.
- Pray for delivery of our baby here in Rwanda –for God’s perfect timing and that it would be uncomplicated
- Pray for Nick as if takes on more responsibilities in our family and prepares for the next courses he will be teaching
We feel blessed to be in your prayers and to be involved in this good work to whichGod has called us to.
Pray for Healing
So, my mom came to visit, and treated us to a safari at Akagera Game Park. We saw the amazing sight of about 50 elephants playing in the lake and eating papyrus, an 8 foot crocodile out of the water and a leopard. And I broke my ankle.
I wish I could say I was running from a lion or rescuing my child from a charging rhino, but no. I was walking back to the car from an outhouse.
So here I am, 29 weeks pregnant with a (probably) broken leg, on the first day of a three day visit to the game park. I’m in pain, but I also know that it’s a once in a lifetime chance to take my mom on her first safari in Africa. So what do we do? We finish the safari, of course!
I end up getting an x-ray and a cast, but the doctor says, “I would absolutely do surgery on this injury, but you’re pregnant, so we’ll just cast it.” Ummm, of course I want my baby to be safe, but I also want to heal right!
I got home with a half-plaster cast, and couldn’t climb the three stairs into my house. The cast weighed close to 30 pounds! I struggled with it for a few days and it lightened up a bit as it dried, but I continued to seek second opinions on the fracture and the best way forward.
I sent the x-ray to a second doctor here who said, “You absolutely need surgery.” But when he found out I am pregnant, he recommended a new cast. This one is much more manageable in size, and along with crutches, I have been able to borrow a wheelchair from the clinic I work at, so I am a bit more mobile. With that said, Rwanda is by no means a wheelchair/ crutches friendly place!
I was able to get a third opinion from an orthopedic surgeon in the States. His belief is that the best course of treatment, pregnant or not, for this fracture is NOT surgery but being in a cast for 6 weeks.
As you can imagine, the thought of needing surgery while pregnant and living in the developing world was scary, and troubling, and filled with uncertainty. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a team, friends and even a husband and two little girls who have surrounded me with support, prayers and a helping hand.
You are part of my support team, and I need your help through prayer. Please pray specifically for:
- Complete healing of my ankle
- Pain level –because I am pregnant I am unable to take the pain medication that would normally be recommended for this type of break.
- No complications –both with my pregnancy and with the fracture in general
- Sanity –Currently I am non-weight bearing, and unable to drive. Also, Rwanda is not a place of convenient elevators and wheelchair accessible bathrooms or entry ways. Much of my time will be spent at home, and for an extravert like myself, this is a bit overwhelming.
- Nick –Pray for Nick as he has to take on more responsibility with our girls and helping me while continuing his regular work.
PS. As we went through a crisis moment, thinking we would need medical evacuation, and needing prayer for wisdom for the doctors and ourselves, we realized that we were ill equipped to get our prayer need out to all our prayer partners and prayer chains, using only our phones. This is a process to work on for next time, so that we can let you know sooner so that you can lift us up sooner.
Thank you for your prayers and your faithfulness.
Over the past year and a half of being in Rwanda, my heart, emotions and understanding of God’s sovereignty have been deeply challenged. Caring for pregnant moms at the Nyabisindu outreach clinic has brought me face to face with profound suffering.
A typical mom we serve is very, very poor. She is probably unemployed, though she would jump at the opportunity to have a job. Her husband may have left her after she became pregnant. She has likely experienced violence from partners, family members or neighbors and it is possible that her pregnancy is one result. Though she may not want additional children, her partner’s control or her church’s theology leave her with little to no say in the matter. She might be HIV positive – from birth, from her husband’s infidelity or from using prostitution as a way to feed her other children. She knows little to nothing about childbirth and is reliant on the, often incorrect and sometimes harmful, advice of the abakecuru (old women) in her community. It is likely that she has already lost a child.
These are the moms I get to walk with. I see them on a monthly, biweekly or weekly basis throughout their pregnancy. They tell me their stories, shed tears with me at their sorrows and ask me their questions. I get to feel their babies’ positions, listen to their babies’ heartbeats and send them for a twenty week ultrasound to see their unborn child. I get to pray for them when they experience heartache or prepare for delivery. And I see their pain and suffering. I have measured the tummy of moms who have died in the hospital. Sometimes, the very baby I have felt arakina (playing) in their mommy’s tummy has died during pregnancy, labor or after delivery.
Low-risk moms are able to come to Iranzi clinic to deliver. Iranzi, the Kinyarwanda word for “He knows me,” is a midwife-led birth center where Nyabisindu moms have access to holistic, evidence-based labor, delivery and postpartum care. I have worked in other hospitals and clinics in Rwanda and I can safely say that Iranzi is one of a kind!
When a woman comes in to deliver, her husband or family is allowed to stay by her side. The woman has access to a bed with sheets and blankets, a birthing ball, stool, flushing toilet and warm shower. Our staff of Rwandan midwives and nurses have all been trained in Helping Babies Breath, Helping Moms Survive, CPR, and Neonatal Resuscitation, courses that few hospital nurses in Rwanda have taken. They provide labor support by assessing fetal heart tones, giving the mom food and drink, helping her with natural pain control methods and placing pressure on her back. They sing to the women and pray with and for them. If a mom or baby is transferred from Iranzi to a hospital, a nurse or midwife will visit them throughout their stay. After delivery, moms have access to postnatal care for themselves and their babies and, if they are high risk post-partum, will often receive a home visit from one of our nurses or midwives.
One of the most important and beautiful parts of Nyabisindu and Iranzi is that the women are known, not just by God, but by us. We know each woman’s history, family and income situation. We have cried and prayed with her. We have taught her about breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, the dangers of inducing labor with traditional medicine, warning signs in pregnancy, normal signs of labor, fetal kick counts, infant and child safety, family planning and normal newborn care. As we serve them, these women come to know and trust us.
One of the women we have been seeing regularly is Epifani (not her real name). She is close to delivery of her third pregnancy. Unfortunately, Epifani has no living children. With her first pregnancy, she arrived at the hospital full term, expecting to deliver a healthy baby. Her child was moving and had good fetal heart tones on admission, but by the time she delivered the baby was stillborn. The second time she again arrived at the hospital full term and this time delivered a live baby. However, two days later while still in the hospital, her second child died. The only explanation she had for the deaths of her babies was fetal exhaustion. Now she is full term awaiting the delivery of her third child. So far, she seems to have had a healthy pregnancy, but every time I see her, I think of the fear she must have surrounding the delivery of this child. And every time I see her, I pray for her and her child.
It may not seem like much to someone who is used to state of the art equipment, resources, doctors and training. Yet I am blessed to know that God sees this mom and her heartbreak and that my prayers make a difference. When I pray against fear and intercede for the life and health of this child, our powerful God hears me.
This is just a glimpse of what I get to do. There are many stories I could tell here – some amazing and many sad. But what a blessing to be a part of something so beautiful for God’s glory.