Orphans in Kigali – November 1997

In November 1997 I traveled from London to Uganda and Rwanda with a friend. We conducted a pastors’ conference, taught in a Bible College, and did church ministry in Uganda and then went to Kigali, Rwanda for a week to teach in a Bible College.

The Bible College was Kinya-Rwanda and French-speaking and it really gave us an opportunity to hone our skills at speaking with an interpreter. A French-speaking Rwandan pastor named James was my interpreter for the week and we had a lot of fun with our same names.

Each morning we taught for three hours at the Bible College, then rushed off to a large covered area in the town center to take turns speaking to a gathering of 700 or so people who came each midday for worship and teaching. The people were so hungry for God’s Word and desperately in need of hope and encouragement. We gave it everything we had!

At night we spoke in several of the churches in the capital city. The infrastructure was just getting back to Africa normal and power outages were frequent and of un-predicable duration. Ray and I pretty much burned out our voices that week, speaking to groups of from 35 (Bible College) to 1500 (Restoration Church) without benefit of a PA system.

Each day as we drove from the Bible College to the city center meeting, we passed through the town square. At any hour of the day, there were scores of boys and girls in the town square, some sleeping under a couple of huge trees, some begging from motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, some just hanging out.

It was common to see a ten-year-old boy carrying a three-year-old girl or an eight-year-old girl walking along with a two-year-old and a five-year-old kid holding on to her hands.

These were orphans and the big tree in Kigali town square was their home. Their parents had died in the genocide or of AIDS and they were completely on their own. Children caring for children. Kids raising toddlers.

I was so moved at the sight, it was hard to look. Then I flew back to London and my friend Ray flew back to Texas.

About Jim Stephens

I am a Christ-follower, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. I’ve been a pastor, church-planter, missionary, mechanic, and business owner. My life is a journey of faith and discovery and I love the season of life I find myself in.

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