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Two Baptisms, Signs of Growth

A letter from Kay Day serving in Rwanda

February 2017

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Dear Friends and Family

Sunny greetings from Rwanda. The beginning of the new year is filled with baptisms here in Rwanda, a sign of new life. This past month I participated in two baptism services in very different contexts but both filled with the expectations of the growth of the church. Let me try to give you a feel for them.

The first was at the Karabanda parish, the mother church of the many chapels in the Butare region. It draws many young people from the area colleges, so it has a youthful congregation. Bekora, 17, and Grace, 16, the daughters of my colleagues Pastor Gabriel and Pastor Rose Marie, have been attending there for the youth programing. Since they had not been baptized, they decided to do it there, to join the church. Their parents were thrilled and invited many of their colleagues to attend the service of celebration. Since the genocide and an influx of neo-Pentecostal churches the Presbyterian church (EPR) has offered its members the option of infant or adult baptism. To accommodate this Karabanda has installed a baptismal pool outside. So after the girls made a profession of their faith and sang the Apostle’s Creed (yes, a beautiful song of faith) the congregation, including 10 pastors, accompanied them outside for the baptism. Everyone, gathered around the pool to witness this, sang “Rock of Ages” in Kinyarwanda as the pastor immersed the girls. This is an act of faith in itself, since many Rwandans do not know how to swim and fear water pools. The service was followed by a gathering at the family’s home where a meal was served to more than 150 who had come to encourage them.

The following Sunday I went with the PIASS choir and the president of the presbytery to another baptism and a service to “promote” a chapel to a sub-parish, the next step to becoming a full congregation on its own rather than a satellite worship location of a parish. At Mugombwa the church building was not large enough to hold the gathering, so we assembled outside in a partially roofed area and a baptismal pool that had to be dug behind the building and the hole lined with plastic. It was not as fancy as at Karabanda, but it was just as effective as the congregation gathered to sing “Rock of Ages” as three young people were baptized. The simplicity of it was moving. After the baptism I preached and the president of the presbytery declared the chapel a sub-parish. There was great dancing, celebrating their growth as a congregation.

What struck me about these services was that the settings did not matter. The act of confessing faith and joining the body of Christ was the same whether in a fine pool or a plastic-lined hole in the ground. The key was that Christ and his church were present. The Holy Spirit was at work.

I pray that you have experienced Christ’s presence and the working of the Holy Spirit in your lives this beginning of the new year as well. Please continue to pray for the growth of the church here. I am praying for the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers in the States as you face the challenges of finding unity in the midst of diversity and peace in the midst of division. My prayers are with you. This is how we partner together in ministry. Thank you for being my partner in what Christ is doing around the world.

Yours in Christ’s love.

Kay (Cathie to the family)

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