Launching a united training effort for Rwanda and beyond…

Late May saw the launch of a radically renewed BUILD initiative in Rwanda. A number of representatives from six dioceses gathered together at the Ubumwe Centre, Kigeme for training as BUILD coordinators and master trainers. The main objective: to reach over 600 new leaders in the dioceses over a three year period in order to grow healthy churches and make Jesus known. If that was not enough there were also representatives from the UK, Uganda and Chad.

First, the renewed initiative. Last year’s news item ‘Rwanda revisited’ gave the backstory of RDIS (Rural Development Inter-diocesan Service) and the dioceses it now serves, Shyogwe, Butare, Kigeme, Cyangugu and Nyaruguru, with the Missionary Diocese of Karongi now in fellowship with them as a potential new partner. And it outlined BUILD’s relationship with RDIS, stretching back to 2011. The piece ended with this significant observation from Pastor Charlotte,

“We have new people in the ministry. If we can train them as we have been trained before it can also help them to use this programme in their areas. And it is good to renew people – refreshing those who have been part of the programme, in order that they can continue the work.”

The renewed initiative is a response to that, with new dioceses included (Nyaruguru and Karongi); new staff at RDIS involved; new representatives from the dioceses grafted in; new objectives established; and with a fresh determination to build on work done and to spread the training for the good of the churches. But all with the benefits of the continuity that comes from many who have experienced the training, bishops included.

It was wonderful to meet together for a week for training, planning and prayer together, which means the presence of those from the UK and Uganda is easy to explain. I (Jem Hovil) attended as a BUILD Partners, UK trustee to help with the training and to continue to build the relationships. Canon Stephen Kewaza and Daniel Muwanguzi travelled from Uganda and brought their immense experience of the programme, not only in Uganda but elsewhere in the region, Rwanda included. Stephen and Daniel had been instrumental in helping to start the programme in Rwanda all those years ago, had made a number of previous trips, and were received with open arms.

The presence of Pastor Felix and Lay Minister Benjamin from Chad is less obvious. Chad comes under the vast Diocese of North Africa, which in turn lies within the Province of Alexandria, which other BUILD work has begun in (in both the Diocese of the Horn of Africa and the Diocese of Gambella). Their bishop is encouraging them to start BUILD in the Anglican Mission to Chad within the Diocese of North Africa, and to receive training and support to do that. Rwanda is not particularly close to Chad and they travelled via Addis Ababa, but it is partially Francophone, as is Chad, and the opportunity to get together there was too good to miss.

Everyone benefited from the different perspectives people brought. One evening was given over to a presentation from Felix and Benjamin on their ministry in the very different context of Chad, which was inspiring for the Ugandans and Rwandans and led to prayer for one another and ties of fellowship as part of a now wider BUILD team. Another evening was spent hearing and responding to a presentation from Daniel, who also serves at the Regional Representative for Africa for SEAN International (a theological education by extension provider). SEAN and BUILD have worked hand in hand in Uganda for years: SEAN focuses more on Christian discipleship with a view to leadership; BUILD on leadership, but rooted in Christian discipleship. It was helpful to share resources, not least with the brothers from Chad and to pray for our various ministries together.

So the Ubumwe (“Unity”) Centre turned out to be the right place to meet, and the hope is the international partnership in the gospel will continue as the various initiatives move forward.