A letter from Kay Day in Rwanda
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from Rwanda.
A small congregation of believers gathers on Sundays in a small chapel just at the end of my road, across the road from PIASS. In addition to the 50 or so students, mostly from the school of theology, who regularly worship, we are joined by a host of international folks. We are blessed with a lovely French lady, older than I am, who heads her own NGO working with widows and orphans both here and in Uganda. She has worked in the region for the last 20 years. Then there is the Japanese professor who heads the peace-building program at PIASS and his wife. They were based in Kigali with an NGO for nine years until last year when he joined PIASS full time. My next-door neighbors, a Tanzanian family, worship with us. She is a Lutheran pastor and is teaching systematic theology at PIASS while he is teaching at a private primary school just around the corner. Their housekeeper also attends, even though her English is limited. Our only non-student elder is the wife of the president of our presbytery, a nurse by training and the mother of three. Several folks working for NGOs in the area come from time to time. One is from Uniontown, Pa., just 60 miles from my home in the States. An American medical doctor and his Guatemalan wife have worshipped with us a few times. They are Jewish but enjoy the fellowship. As you can see, we have an eclectic gathering.
The number of worshippers varies, depending on the school schedule. During a school recess there may be as few as 10 worshippers, and when there are special events at the school there may be as many as 100 in attendance. This is the community with which I have been affiliated this past year. It has been a blessing to worship with them, but as of this Sunday I have been assigned as pastor to this small congregation. I am thrilled.
The change has come about through a major reorganization of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda. After a year of study and discernment it has restructured the church, redistributing 17 small regions into 7 larger presbyteries in order to give the presbyteries and the local congregations more responsibility for the church. This bold step in reorganization lets the presbyteries and parishes set their own agenda for growth and ministry. The denominational leadership will be present for support. This puts much more responsibility on the presbyteries and the local parishes. One of the seven new presidents of the presbyteries (like the PC(USA)’s executive presbyter) is my friend Juvenal Rwamunyana, who has been serving as the pastor of this small congregation and the Dean of Students for the college. He will now preside over the Kigali Presbytery. He will continue as the Dean of Students and a lecturer at PIASS but cannot also manage the pastorate of the English chapel. That is where I come in. Another colleague from PIASS, Pastor Celestin Nsengimana, is now the president of the Gitarama Presbytery, a combination of two former regions. This is the presbytery for our tiny chapel. My two friends decided I would be the right person to lead this small English chapel, given my native language and my experience in pastoring.
So I am adding this to my opportunities to serve. It feels good to be back in a congregation, not just for worship, but for shepherding. The intermixture of the school and the chapel gives a welcome overlap of folks in both. The several from the international community provide some fresh perspectives. When I came to Rwanda just a year ago I prayed that God would use not only my teaching skills but also my pastoral experience. He has been doing that in the classroom, but now he has opened a new opportunity to use my gifts. For that I praise him.
I thank you for your support. Without your financial and prayer support none of this would be possible. Your faithfulness to God is also faithfulness to Rwanda. Thank you. Please continue to pray for us: pray for this transition in leadership in the congregation and in the denomination. Please pray for the people of Rwanda this month as they remember the genocide 20 years after the fact. This time of remembrance is always a painful time for everyone in the country. Rejoice with me in this opportunity to serve God’s people in pastoral ministry. I pray for you as you continue on the Lenten path to Easter. May God continue to reveal himself to you.
Yours in love,
Kay (Cathie to the family)