Have you ever had God hit you something totally unexpected? I can only think of it happening once or twice to me in the past and they weren’t things that I really saw as being from God until much later. But I will have to say that God has hit me with something unexpected, and boy was it colossal. On Tuesday the other Bridge2Rwanda personnel here in Musanze and I had a meeting with Bishop John Rucyahana about our work and the projects we had ahead of us. That is when he dropped what felt like to me was a small bomb. He said he wanted me to take over the English service at the cathedral (St John the Baptist Cathedral) and grow the service. He also said he wanted me to help with the planting of English services in the surrounding villages. When I heard this, I had two reactions. One was that it had to be from God because I had preached my first “official” sermon at the cathedral, and two, it scared me to death. I didn’t sleep well Tuesday night and it took a while for me to process what God might have in mind. I am not going to pretend to know how this will work out, but I think I might as well enjoy the ride. After not being able to sleep, it finally came to me that I needed to develop a scriptural basis for my ministry while I am here in Rwanda. Now I can’t claim to ever have had a vision or had God speak to me in a dream, but something directed me to Mark 12: 28-34. If you are not familiar with this passage it is where Jesus asks, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” I have taken verse 31 of this passage for the basis of my ministry here in Rwanda; “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”….
Today (Friday) I met again with Bishop John and the pastors and deacons I would be working with at the Cathedral. I guess now it is official. I am one of the ministers at St John the Baptist Cathedral. I have an office and will have to attend staff meetings. I even have to meet with the English worship service committee. That’s right, even Anglican churches have committees. Now all this raises a question; do I need to move my membership from Trinity to St John? (Just kidding) I told the Bishop that he was a brave man putting a Baptist in charge of a service in an Anglican church, but you know there is a lot more that we agree on theologically than we disagree on. We can work together and build a ministry that will serve all Rwandans. When I told him that I felt that the basis of my ministry should be “love your neighbor as yourself” he told a story about Abraham Lincoln. He said that Lincoln once said that if he could find a church that practiced loving their neighbors as themselves, that would be the church he would join. I believe God has put me here for this task and has laid out a path for me to follow.
But you can’t tell me that God does not have a sense of humor. A Tennessee Baptist, graduating from a Cumberland Presbyterian seminary in May, is going to be in charge of an English service in an African Anglican church! How mixed up can you get? As my good friend Mike Young of Tennessee CBF said to me, “sounds like the Kingdom of God to me!” How true Mike … how true!
Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.