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US staff conference offering for rwanda

InterVarsity/USA staff at Staff Conference 08 were given the opportunity to participate in an offering for the Rwanda conference, and challenged with the goal of raising $30,000. The offering would go to cover all remaining outstanding costs of the conference as well as fund student movement outreaches to overcome racial and ethnic strife in Rwanda and other countries. Staff responded generously at the conference and afterwards. As of January 25, 2008, the offering total was $34755.26.

» read more (including details from my report on the conference) on the InterVarsity website

News from Kenya.

I just received news from two friends and colleagues in Kenya regarding the situation there.

Dear Andy,

We greatly appreciate the prayers for our country. Its difficult to say how things are because they keep on changing daily. For example there has been a wave of escalation of violence in the last three days in the Rift Valley parts of Kenya, yet there is relative calm and normalcy in several other parts. What I can say is that there is hope that things will return to normal and the sticky political issues resolved justly. Several of our staff in the Rift Valley cannot move freely and go about their work. One of them has received threats daily that her house will be burned because she comes from a tribe considered alien in that place.

We thank God that most campuses & colleges have began re-opening for their new terms/semesters. Staff have been discussing how best to help the students who are adversely affected emotionally, economically and spiritually.

Keep on praying with us.

—-

Dear Andy,

Thanks for your concern and prayers about our country. It is our first and unpleasant experience of a situation we only watch happening in other countries. We are all praying and keeping optimism that it will not dig deeper, but we shall by each day overcome the plague. Just to give you a general perspective: As at yesterday we noticed that the handshakes of the two protagonists was nothing, but a public consolation. The evidence was clear when in Nakuru, a relatively calm town in the recent past, erupted with violence causing the loss of almost 20 people in a day! The two protagonists (after the handshake) have uttered words that seem to have set them on clear ‘war’ paths. One may not be sure how to interprete the results of their stands. But we keep praying. The amount of suffering psychologically and economically cannot be fully accounted for. So pray for the many ordinary Kenyans who have been affected directly and indirectly.

Thanks for your assistance and may God bless you.

Blair takes on unpaid role as Rwanda adviser

Tony Blair is widening his post-premiership portfolio by becoming an unpaid adviser to the Rwandan government of President Kagame.

In the first indication of the kind of work Blair would like to undertake in Africa, he has despatched a three-strong team to Rwanda to see how he will be able to help build the capacity of the once war torn government.

Blair has been impressed by the way Rwanda has transformed itself since the 1994 genocide and believes he can raise funds to help the government. The country already has the second highest growth rate in Africa, but half the government’s budget is based on overseas aid.

» read more (Guardian Unlimited)

Schoolboy cricketers bat their way to a place in the Commonwealth

November 20, 2007

The applause drifts gently across the ground as bat strikes ball and the figures in whites make their dash for the crease. A boy leans on his bicycle on the edge of the outfield to take in the scene and catch up on the score.

It may sound like any village on a pleasant Sunday afternoon – but this is Kicukiro Oval in French-speaking Rwanda, where eager schoolboys are getting to grips with the unfamiliar English game.

» read more (The Times)

Fears of Rwanda and Zimbabwe propel pressure

The crisis in Kenya has prompted a wave of international pressure from governments concerned at the risk of ethnic cleansing and a descent into chaos of what was regarded as one of Africa’s more stable political systems.

The twin examples of Rwanda and Zimbabwe provide diplomats with ample incentive to do what they can to stop the spread of violence and resolve doubts over the presidential election.

» read more (BBC)

S Novym Godom!

Or, “happy new year” in Russian.

Enjoyed my belated Christmas dinner today, followed by a visit to Caergwrle to see Natasha (working in Russia), and friends (2 Russians, 1 Kazakh, 1 American) over for Christmas and new year.

It was lovely to hear Russian being spoken around me: “our hearts burn for this ministry” – what a great phrase.

What an amazing year it has been, and what a privilege it has been to travel to 2 new continents with IFES this year.

Happy new year.

back home

I am home, and I am tired.

The flight from Kigali to Brussels also stopped in Nairobi. Little did I know at the time just what problems had started in this country. After my time in Rwanda, and hearing of the need for strong leaders in Africa, it’s sad to see what is happening – poor leadership playing to tensions across ethnic divides. It’s a dangerous situation, but I feel my prayers can now be better informed. A reminder to have the Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other.

After 5 hours in Brussels, and some amazing views over London as we descended below the clouds, it is nice to be home and I am looking forward to a belated Christmas with family.

day twelve

Woke to a misty morning that provided a few atmospheric photos.

There was a fair amount of to-ing and fro-ing today, and plenty of waiting around (I managed to read an entire book), but I finally made it to the airport in time to check in at 6pm.

James waited with me at the airport as the sun set on my last day in Rwanda, casting beautful light onto the clouds that were creeping over the hills. Across the road, the sound of singing from a church service that had just begun filled the air and completed the picture with a sense of innocence. It was difficult to remember that these very same hills, only a short time ago, echoed with sounds that should never be heard.

I have absorbed lots of information, heard lots of stories, taken lots of photos in the last twelve days. I am glad that the week ahead will provide some time to reflect on this experience before returning to the office.

day eleven

Today saw the last of the Bible expositions (was less an exposition, more a message about vision), the closing ceremony, and ‘Soiree Rwandaise’. This was my personal highlight of the day.

During more traditional dancing, some of the internationals were taken up on stage (fortunately I escaped this time), and a mat was laid on the floor. Augustin was then dressed as a Rwandan king and recognised as the new leader, given by God, to the region. Vinoth was invited to pray for Augustin in this role. It was a poignant tribute and a lovely way to affirm him in the task God has called him to.

Back to the guest house and all packed up. Breakfast at normal time tomorrow, but my flight is not until late evening. I have a feeling there will be lots of waiting around in the next 48 hours.