Following yesterday's update from Rev Viateur, I wanted to share more from Shyogwe Diocese in Rwanda. We received a message last week from Archdeacon Joseph Sehorona who, like Viateur, is well known to many CMSI supporters, having visited Ireland in 2017, as well as helping to host CMSi teams in Shyogwe.
Archdeacon Joseph writes:
Since the appearance of Covid-19, humanity has been threatened more than ever. We are living through days of fear, panic, anxiety and hopelessness. Our pastoral ministry has been seriously affected. Social distancing has helped to slow the spread of the virus, but it has increased our sense of loneliness and anxiety during this time.
For Rwandans, there is joy in coming together for family events and corporate worship. We believe in the power of prayer and the laying on of hands for the sick and broken. The lockdown has not allowed this to happen. On top of that, East Africa has been seriously affected by torrential rain with devastating consequences.
‘Family Prayers’ has been one way of bringing the body of Christ together when it’s not physically safe
to meet. Rev Ndaribumbye Francois of Tambwe Parish (pictured with his family) is reporting the following additional benefits of families coming together during lockdown:
Family Service has been very beneficial for the Church. It can be one of the ways of resolving conflicts and thus of maintaining family unity. It allows members of the whole family to be more aware of their role in the life of the Church. For me, after Covid-19, the prayer cell group (an entity of 10 houses) will no longer be the basic unit of the Church because people will be much more aware that the family Church comes first…
Pastor Francois continues to remind his congregation that God is in still in the business of protecting His people and to stay strong until the Lord’s power is fully exerted over the C-19 outbreak.
The Church in Shyogwe is also taking seriously their responsibility to not only provide spiritual encouragement, but also to offer practical help to the most vulnerable. Where people have lost their jobs and family income, they are encouraging them to diversify through agriculture and other income generating activities. By unlocking their potential, people are able to lift themselves out of financial challenges and find local solutions. Rev Joseph is not doing it alone; he has an amazing team of pastors and lay people who are pulling together in this time of crisis.
Rev Joseph concludes:
It’s very easy during this time to be selfish and to only focus on protecting the needs of my own family, but I want to be sure that I am being guided by God’s love for my parishioners and neighbors, and particularly those most affected by the floods and the current crisis. God continues to be my source of hope and strength, and I feel indebted to our partners and CMSI for their support and prayers in these difficult days. We are one family, in one shared home.