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July 28, 2010 @ 11:32 am

Chryston Evening 25 July2010

In wrath remember mercy

Habakkuk 3

Ian L Brown

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July 26, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

Moodiesburn 25th July

Hebrews 11 v23-29

David McAdam, Moodiesburn Centre. 25/07/2010

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July 22, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

Final Reflections on the trip

The first thing i want to do is to say a huge thank you to each and every person who has had the heart to pray for us during our time in Rwanda.  The trip was hugely blessed, in many, many ways, and  i would just like to thank you all for your dedication and commitment to prayer.  Thank you.  It also seems appropriate that i mention that both Rona and Kirsty Fleming are still out in Rwanda and will be until the 4th of August.  I am sure that both would be highly appreciative of your continuing prayers as they experience different aspects of life in Rwanda. With the exception of Rona and Kirsty, the team are now all home safe and well.  We were all blessed with our travels and enjoyed peaceful flights.  We were also highly blessed with the team that were called together – each person had a vital role to fulfil and each person was moved by the experience in some way.  We all got along excellently as a team, and although there were one or two hairy moments (Cal’s chest!), there was no tension between the team and we all worked together excellently.

 

I think the thing that challenged me most over the trip was who i consider to be my brother and how much i do to help them.   A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35.  On the first day in Rwanda we went to visit the genocide memorial.  We all found it very disturbing to read through just what happened, in the build up to the genocide, and some of the atrocities committed during the genocide.  After we had visited the genocide memorial we went to visit some homes of survivors of the genocide.  After we had visited these homes, we joined some friends for a meal out to celebrate their wedding, which we were attending on Saturday.  Just from this first day we got such a clear picture of our lack of love for our brothers.  We had spent the afternoon hearing stories from people who could not afford to eat, then, spent the evening eating as much as we could manage in a restaurant.  I certainly came to realise from this the importance of sharing what i have with my brothers, rather than keeping it for myself.

 

The people of Rwanda themselves were such a joy to meet and spend time in fellowship with.  None of the Rwandans we met ever asked the questions “Why me?”  “Why did God allow this to happen?” “Surely God doesn’t exist if He allowed this to happen to me?”  The people of Rwanda are laying down their sorrow at the Cross and exchanging it for the joy of the Lord.  Jesus said on the Cross “It is finished” John 19:30.  The people of Rwanda are allowing these words to flow over them.  They are allowing the power of these words to flow over them.  They are experiencing the joy of the lord, the healing of the lord, the peace of the lord, the love of the lord and the grace of the lord because they are taking their sins, their hurts, their pains, the things they’ve done and the things that have been done to them and they are laying them down at the Cross.  They know the healing power of the Cross, the restoring power of the Cross and the redeeming power of the Cross because they are taking these things, laying them at the Cross and exchanging them for the joy of the Lord.  It was wonderful to be in a place to see God working so powerfully and so obviously.  Solace has the motto “beauty instead of ashes” Isaiah 61:30.  That is what the Rwandans are working for.  That is what they are getting from the Cross.  Rwanda died during the genocide, but instead of leaving nothing but ashes, God is taking that place and changing it, making it beautiful again.  Oh the awesome power of God! 

 

One of the key things i noticed while in Rwanda is that the people have such a strong belief in God.  The Rwandans are thirsty for God. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:37-38.  The Rwandans are seeking God, they need people to guide them, to show them the love of God and to teach them the word of God.  The Rwandans considered us a blessing just by our presence.  They knew that we had come to visit, not to give them stuff, but to show them the love of God.  We were considered a blessing everywhere we went because the Rwandans understood that God had called us to be there and that we were there because we loved them.  Wherever we went we were greeted with hugs and handshakes.  Was it because we were special?  No.  It was because the Rwandans knew that we were there to show them the love of God.  Pastor Paul spoke to us on our last night in Rwanda.  He said that he was so glad that we came and that we saw Rwanda.  He said that it wasn’t important what we gave, but rather that we saw what the Rwandans had been through.  That we came to know the plight of the people but seeing them in their sorrow.  That we came to see that the Rwandans need our help and that they need to be guided to our God. 

 

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2.  The God we love, the God we serve and the God who loves us, also loves the Rwandans.  He is the atoning sacrifice for the WORLD.  Not just for us.  Not for Chryston.  Not for Scotland.  For everyone!  We went there to show them the love of God.  We must continue to love them as brothers.  We must continue to pray for them and to help them in any way we can.  Otherwise, it becomes just a holiday. 

 

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your prayers.  I hope you have learned as much through reading this as i have through writing it.

Graeme

 

Some key verses that really spoke to me while in Rwanda

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“and provide for those who grieve in Zion—        to bestow on them a crown of beauty        instead of ashes,        the oil of gladness        instead of mourning,        and a garment of praise        instead of a spirit of despair.        They will be called oaks of righteousness,        a planting of the LORD        for the display of his splendour.” Isaiah 61:3

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”  John 19:30

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."” John 7:37-38

 

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July 21, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

Flying home

Day 14

Really the only way to describe the team at the moment is exhausted. Our first flight left at 1am Rwandan time and second left nairobi at 7:10am Rwandan time. I think every member of the team has managed a few hours sleep, but I don't think anyone has had a good sleep.

For me, the journey - thus far - has been a great chance to reflect on the trip as a whole. I'll post sone final reflects tomorrow, after i've had a good nights sleep, but I think one of the key things I've noticed in the last two weeks was the joy of the rwandans. they do not spend their days asking "why me God?" or "why did this happen to me?" or even "do you even love me lord?". Instead they spend their time praising God, loving him for his grace, his provision, his salvation and his unfailing love. Without God, Rwanda would be dead. It is by the grace of God that Rwanda has survived and knows joy. Rwanda has known such sorrow, but instead of embracing it, they have left it at the cross, and instead embrace the joy of the Lord. Simply amazing!

The first group is now home. Please pray that all goes smoothly for the second group and that they would arrive home safely.

Thank you Comfort Rwanda team

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July 21, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

Last day

Day 13

Today was the final day in Rwanda. The trip seems to have gone so quickly but I think we ate all completely shattered from it.

Today we went to visit a group of genocide survivors in Ruhuha (yes... I did make that spelling up! I'm sorry!) When we arrived in Ruhuha, we again went to visit some more plants that a previous group had planted for the community. As with yesterday, it was wonderful to see the fruit coming to bear from previous work done by comfort Rwanda groups. It gave us such a feeling of hope for the work that we have been doing over here in the last 2 weeks. We then attended a service in which we were welcomed warmly, told stories by various survivors and invited to preach to them. David was preaching about Jeremiah 29:11... God having plans for our lives. After his sermon, craig gave his testimony speaking about how God has been working in his life, even though craig didn't believe in God all of the time, God was still working to draw Craig in. After David and craig had spoken one of the Rwandans spoke and said that he believed the survival of that community was evidence that God exists. He believes that if God did not exist, and if God had not been watching over rthem, then they would have been wiped out.

After church we had a quick football game - Scotland vs Rwanda. There were about 6 scots vs about 15 rwandans. Scotland won 5-4! And graeme managed to fall over again!

After the game of football we went to visit a girl who had been orphaned by the genocide. She was the oldest of 3 siblings and raised money by ploughing her neighbours gardens. She told us that by doing this she made around 60 pence a day, which she despirately needed to support her family. She also told us that she would love to get into sewing, but she wasn't able to afford to do the training. Sewing would be a far more lucrative job and really help her to support her family.

After this home visit, we returned to solace so that the group who are leaving tonight could get some chance to pack before going to pastor paul's house for dinner. By the time we got back to solace, we had about 45 mins to pack, and shower, before going to dinner. Gotta love a challenge! When we did arrive at pastor paul's house we were very tight for time for us to eat and then get back and get to the airport. We had some good time of fellowship, some music, some great food but sadly it was cut short by our need to get to the airport. Pastor Paul said a final farewell to us, in which he said that the important thing was that we came. Rwanda needs people to come, to see what has happened, to help them move on, to see the hope there is in Christ and to spread the word of Christ throughout the land. That was our most important function, that we saw what had happened, and we saw how people were moving on.

We did, thankfully, make it to the airport in time for out 1am flightly leaving Kigali. Now all that remains is the epic flight back. Fun.

Can you please pray for put safe travel home and the second group, who have tomorrow in Rwanda, and fly out on Wednesday morning at 3am

Thank you Comfort Rwanda team

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July 20, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

Bugasera

Day 12

Today we went to visit a church in bugasera. We stepped off the bus to find a beautiful church building, in the middle of the bugasera district, which serves three communities. Before the service started we took the time to go and visit some plants that had been planted in a field by a previous comfort Rwanda team. One of the original planters (archie) was telling us the the plants were orginally tiny. The plants were now huge... Bigger than archie (though that's not saying too much!). The most glorious thing though was that they were bearing fruit. These plants, planted by a previous group, were providing exactly the aid that they were meant to, and exactly the aid that was despirately needed! It was wonderful to see the efforts of the previous group were bearing fruit, and to think that the actions of our group will produce such despirately needed fruit.

After we had seen the fields we returned to the church and the service began. Again, the service was one of vibrance and worship. The people welcomed us warmly and praised God richly. The service lasted 4 hrs! Archie preached about Christ - who is our atoning sacrifice and interceeds on our behalf. 1 john 2:1-6. When the service ended we were offered drinks and time to mix with the rwandans.

After we had finished at the church we went to visit comfort village. Comfort village is a village that has been built up over the last few years by donations, from individuals and groups, to build houses for the community. Each of the houses is made of stone and cement and cost £6000 to make. The residents are charged with the care of the property, but are not charged any rent. Solace are in control of the project and established that the greatest need in the community was to build houses.

After our visit to comfort village we visited the genocide memorial in bugasera. This was a church (probably smaller than chryston church hall) where around 5000 Tutsis took shelter during the genocide. The Hutu forces surrounded the church and invaded. They killed almost everyone inside the church in many different and horrific ways. The things that they did are too horrible to mention here. The Hutus slaughtered the tutsis that had taken refuge there. Only 10 of the 5000 survived. Those 10 only survived because they were hidden underneath the dead. The church was still filled with the clothes of those who died there. The church also contained the tomb of a girl who was violently gang raped, then murdered. Outside the church was a memorial to a nun who had tried to warn the outside world that the genocide was taking place. In the grounds of the church were tombs containing the bones of all those killed in the area during the genocide.  The entire team were emotionally devistated to see these things and hear these stories. We sat, as a group, heads in our hands feeling such sorrow. The question on everyones mind was "how could these things be allowed to happen?"

God answered this question for me. He told me that we had fallen so far because of sin. He told me that, while we are a people who seek to know Christ and become like him, the people who did these things did not know him and had turned in the opposite direction. He also told me of the need to spread the name of Christ all over the world. We must lift the name of Christ high, that all may come to know him, all may come to seek him and all may become like him. Only then will these things be gone.

After the trip to the genocide memorial we all went to safari's house for lunch/dinner. We spent some much needed time in fellowship, eating, talking and worshipping God. This simple time of worship was such a juxtaposition from the genocide memorial. It showed us that, while there is such sorrow in the past, the people of Rwanda are letting the sorrow leave them and embracing the joy of the lord. Alleluia!

Please pray for the teams last day together. Please pray that it would be a good time of fellowship, that the friendships would remain when we leave and that people would carry what they have learned home and that it would change their hearts.

Comfort Rwanda team.

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July 19, 2010 @ 10:02 am

Chryston Morning 18 July 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

1 Timothy 6:3-12

Malcolm McNaught

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July 18, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

Friends of Jesus!

Day 11

Today we were working with some of the kids from friends of Jesus to machete the over growth that was on the site where the college will be built.  (did that make sense?) I think quite a few of the guys had really been looking forward to the chance to do this - just a chance to use machettes and hack at some over growth... What's not to love?

Unfortunately at breakfast quite a few of the team (myself included) were not feeling very well. After some prayer (thanks David), some paracetomol and a whole lot of water we set out in the hope that we would be ok.

We arrived at about 10:30 and got started hacking away in pairs - one cutting and the other watching that there was no danger to anyone else. It was good fun, but hard work. We made sure that we were switching positions regularly so that we didn't get too tired.  It felt good to be using our energy to do something really simple, but really helpful. The bus left us there and went to collect the friends of Jesus who were going to help us.

When the friends of Jesus arrived they spread out through the groups and started taking turns to cut. The friends of Jesus were very good at cutting the over growth and made their way through large parts of it fairly well. We had some good chats with some of them, while others cut, and then we switched places. After a couple of hours work, we had cut a down a big section of over growth and decided it was lunch time. We all climbed onto the bus, took the friends of Jesus back to the church, and headed into Kigali for lunch.

After lunch we returned to the church to meet up with the friends of Jesus. We spent some time with them there, playing games, singing songs, organising stuff and generally having a good time with them. After a few hours we returned to the hotel. For the first time on the trip we had an opportunity to go swimming and a few of us made the most of it. The pool was freezing, but it was just lovely to relax and swim.

The rest of the day was spent having dinner, reflecting on the day and relaxing.  At reflections we considered the insanity of the whole trip. We thought about the things we keep seeing, and that they don't seem to be people acting normally. You would think that when someone does something horrific to you, the normal reaction is to hate them... So why is it that we keep seeing people forgiving one another?

Please pray that we all keep our energy up and continue to learn over the last few days.

Comfort Rwanda team

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July 17, 2010 @ 7:43 am

Healing and reconsiliation day 2

Day 10

I apologise in advance for this post. Towards the end it discusses, in detail, the horrible things that happened to a genocide survivor. If you don't feel you want to read that please skip paragraph 5. It is included so that, those who want to, can get a taste of the horrors of the genocide. It is not included for shock value, but more so that we can see God working in this place.

1. We started today by setting off to visit the high school that pastor paul's children attend. It was their last day of term, and the kids were having their last exams before breaking up for their school holidays.

2. When we got to the high school, we were told that the kids were just finished their exams and were waiting for their parents to arrive to take them home. The head teacher met us and took us on a tour of some of the classrooms. We then stood out in the courtyard talking to a group of the school kids. Some of us were talking, others singing and some others took the opportunity to kick a football around. The kids were wonderful to talk to and to sing with. Pastor Paul had told me that a group of the kids met up for worship on Sundays, on campus, because they didn't go home at weekends and because they prefered that than to walk to the local church. He told me that this was something they arranged themselves. I felt really challenged by this, because it's not something that I would have done when I was their age. I think I would have convinced myself that I would walk into town for church, then, when the alarm went off on Sunday morning, rolled over and went back to sleep. It was a great testiment to their faith, and their hunger for God, that they were keen to do that.

3. Having finished at the school, we then went to the house of another person who was part of the healing and reconsiliation project. We spent the rest of the afternoon, and the start of the evening, helping martha cement her floor. Men arrived and dumped a truck load of sand and a truck load of cement which we had to carry to martha's house. It wasn't very far that we had to carry it, but there was a lot of sand and a lot of cement that needed to be moved. It was good, enjoyable work, but very very tiring. Everyone was working together as a team to move this sand and help Martha as much as possible. The sand was heavy to move, as was the cement, but everyone on the team, and a lot of kids from the community, were all helping - which meant that the job got done reasonably quickly. To put it in context, had you tried to move all of that sand and cement by yourself - using nothing but shovels and bags - it would have taken you weeks. Instead, it took the group of us a few hours. It was brilliant to think how great an effect this would have on martha's life - and all it took was a couple of hours of our time. It was also an excellent feeling to just be practically helping someone in such a meaningful way. (with that said, my t-shirt is completely ruined!)

4. I was touched today by the willingness of everyone to give of their time, and their energy, to help this lady out.

5. During reflections this evening pastor john told us a little of martha's story. He told us that during the genocide almost her entire family were killed. She was left with no one except her two grandsons. She was also brutally raped by a large group of men and who then cut into her head and left her for dead.  As a result of the rape she contracted HIV. I think This was such a stark reminder for the group of what we are still dealing with here, and the pain and suffering that people have endured. It is also a huge example to us of the kind of obsticles that our God is able to overcome! This lady was raped, repeatedly. She contracted a deadly desease because of this. Most of her family were killed. Yet she still praises God. Yet she still dances and sings with delight for what the Lord has done in her life! Stunning!

6. I think the feeling from the group today was that we were all exhausted, but that it felt awesome to do something practical to help someone.

7. Please pray that we continue to be a blessing to the Rwandan people and that our fellowship remain strong.

Comfort Rwanda team

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July 17, 2010 @ 7:33 am

HeaLing and reconsiliation group day 1

Day 9

After a good sleep, a good breakfast and a great wash, the team are now feeling refreshed and restored. After breakfast we set off to visit the healing and reconsiliation project. This is a project run by pastor Paul between perpatrators and victims of the genocide. At the project the victims and the perpatrators work together to rebuild houses destroyed by the genocide.

At the project, the team got involved in helping to build two of the houses. Some of us were stomping mud, others carrying the mud into the house and some of us throwing mud against the Walls. It was great fun! After we had helped for a short time, we cleaned ourselves off and listened to the testimonies of those involved in building the house. The victim had suffered the loss of her entire family (10 kids & all her brothers and sisters) leaving only her two grandsons alive. The perpatrator had been one of the group involved in murdering her family. Yet here the two were reconsiled with one another, forgiving one another, and working together to rebuild both her house and the community. It was simply amazing! To see such forgiveness. Such an amazing ability to leave the hurt at the cross and move on. The work of God is truly amazing!

After we had worked on the houses, we had lauch and then attended two outreach services. The first of which was held in a garden outside a public hall, the second was held in a church. Graeme was preaching at both services and spoke about the restoration of peter. He spoke fairly powerfully, saying that Jesus was asking a simple question to everyone "do you love me?" At the end of each sermon Graeme asked if anyone could hear Jesus speaking to them, and if they did asked them to raise their hands if they wanted pastor Paul to pray for them, that they would come to know the healing and forgiving power of the cross. At the end of both services, people raised their hands. Through the power of God working in those places, people were saved.

It was amazing to see the power of God at work in those places... To see what God is doing there, the rebuilding of communities, the reconsiliation. The forgiveness! Amazing! Our God is an awesome God.

At reflections Paul and conner both told us they had been extremely moved by what had been said and the sermons in the two churches. I spoke to paul and suggested to him that he speak to someone he trusts in the group about how to become a Christian, and what it means to be a Christian. I also said to him that although he perhaps wasn't ready to become a Christian it would still be good for him to know.

Can you please pray for the people in the healing and reconsiliation project who heard me preach and were touch by it. Could you please pray that they continue to hear God's call on their life, that they know the healing power of the cross and come to know God. Can you also continue to pray for Paul, conner and the rest of the team that the friendship and fellowship would remain strong.

Amen Comfort rwanda team

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