I have not been to Rwanda. However, I have met Emmanuel Sitaki, a Rwandan Tutsi who miraculously escaped the 1994 genocide. Emmanuel now leads a ministry that is equipping the orphans who are quickly becoming young adults to support themselves and generate wealth for their communities and nation. See Emmanuel’s story and more information about his ministry at www.ermrwanda.org.
Emmanuel needs trainers. Experienced entrepreneurs, teacher trainers, English speakers, etc, are needed to prepare the orphans for success in the Rwandan marketplace. Emmanuel told me yesterday that they currently have 200 young people enrolled in their 9 month program. He is looking for help teaching the orphans and training the local trainers. The program is flexible and Emmanuel will work to accommodate your availability.
If this sounds interesting, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During my nearly three decades in executive leadership I felt my primary responsibility was to make decisions. I described my role as clearing the rocks off the path so the rest of the organization could move forward as expediently as possible. More often than not, the “rocks” were choices that someone had to make. Many times the better decision was not clear, but even the lessor decision was better than indecision. So my role was to say, “Let’s go this way.”
Over time I learned that there is a dynamic continuum between making a quick decision now verses waiting until more information is available that will enable a better decision. If the consequences of a poor decision are small, I make a quicker decision. If the consequences of a poor decision are great and if more information is forthcoming, I postpone the decision. In between these points along the decision continuum are decisions that can be made tentatively. That is, we agree to move in a certain direction and as we go we watch to see if that direction is confirmed. If it is not, we agree ahead of time that we will adjust as more information becomes available.
One of the goals for my recent trip to Zimbabwe was to test the idea of launching a leadership conference in Bulawayo and Harare. This idea was hatched during my previous trip in November 2012 and seemed to be gaining momentum. However, I desired to find more local enthusiasm for the idea before fully committing to it. Throughout the trip, especially the first half, I regularly discussed the idea. I was surprised that most of the people I talked to were not enthusiastic about a conference. One lady exclaimed, “It is rubbish.” A leading pastor and businessman said he would support the idea, but could not get personally involved. Others felt the timing might be off. My conclusion was that the idea did not have as much support as I initially thought and, therefore, I have ceased promoting it.
The decision about helping to facilitate a leadership conference originated at a meeting in Zimbabwe. The first several people with whom I shared the vision responded enthusiastically. This led me to presume that it was a felt need. However, I realized that my “research” was with a very small sample and I wanted to gain confirmation from a larger segment of the population. I’m glad I did not charge ahead with my first conclusion. If I had, I would have been frustrated by an unenthusiastic response.
During my time in Zimbabwe this month someone gave me a book, Saving Zimbabwe, Life, Death and Hope in Africa. I read it as I traveled home last week. The author, Bob Scott, was intimately involved with the 16 people who were horrifically massacred south of Bulawayo, November 27, 1987. Like the people who were killed, Nancy and I lived in an intentional community in Pasadena, CA at that time. I remember reading about the event in the LA Times during that Thanksgiving weekend and feeling affinity with the fellow Christians who had chosen a sacrificial lifestyle for the sake of reconciliation. The massacre was so awful that it shook the world. Every major news outlet covered the story.
Two-thirds of the book unravels the story of the massacre from the author’s perspective. This is not light reading. It is not a happy story. Nevertheless, it is worth reading to gain more understanding of Africa’s struggle, human sin and our need of God’s grace.
The final third of the book is more philosophical and prescriptive. I particularly like Chapter 13, Transformation. In this chapter the author lists and explains the changes he feels are needed in Zimbabwe. His list includes:
- Transformation of the Church Leadership
- Transformation of the Political Leadership
- Transformation through Forgiveness
- Transformation through taking Personal Responsibility
- Transformation through the Celebration of Diversity
This is a good book to read if you are interested in knowing why Zimbabwe has fallen from being a jewel in Africa to being one of the poorest countries on earth and how its future can once again be bright.
My time here in Zimbabwe is drawing to a close. I am scheduled to fly out of Bulawayo in a few hours. I enjoyed reconnecting with friends I met before and making new ones. I taught in various venues in three cities. I learned more about the struggles the people have endured and gained a greater respect for their faith and perseverance. This has been a productive trip and now it is time to go home.
During the next couple weeks I will attempt to process and consolidate all I have learned and seek God regarding my future involvement here. I have been asked to come back and stay for a longer period of time. Several businesses and organizations would like me to teach more extensively, particularly about leadership, organizational management, and mentoring. Topics that cannot be adequately covered in one or two sessions.
The educators here are also asking for training from the outside. The head of one of the teachers’ training colleges told me they are “desperate” for the kind of training Nancy offers through Kidzana. She said, “We need new inspiration.” She pleaded with me to bring Nancy here.
I am grateful for the reception I have received here and honored that the opportunities to serve in this country are plentiful for both Nancy and me. I should be home Wednesday and Nancy should be home Saturday. Next week we will begin figuring out where we should focus our future ministry. I pray for the Lord’s wisdom and direction.
Do you have any counsel for us as we evaluate and plan?
I am currently in the midst of my second trip to Zimbabwe which does not make me an expert on the people of this country. However, I have consistently noticed two things.
First, these people have suffered more than I can fully comprehend. Every person has a horrific story of personal struggle, hardship and loss. Many lost loved ones during the war. Many have struggled with prejudice. Many lost status, businesses, homes, and other worldly possessions during hyperinflation. My host’s husband was murdered while being robbed. Her friend’s parents were murdered because they had the wrong political views. Listening to the personal stories of these people causes me to realize my life has been sheltered. I find myself struggling to understand how each person can endure so much. How does a nation rise out of so much pain?
The second thing that I notice is that the Christians are filled with joy. They love freely, they are working for reconciliation and justice, and their teasing makes me laugh. I don’t remember laughing as much in a few days as I have during the time that I have been in this country. Their pain is real, but they express joy. They pick on me because of my American idiosyncrasies in the most humorous ways. Their kidding increased greatly last evening after I got lost during a run through a large farm. I was still lost after darkness fell and had to borrow a phone from some local people to call for help. Immediately after my friends learned I was safe, they started hilariously re-crafting my adventure.
Sometimes I feel that my life is difficult. However, compared to almost every Zimbabwean, my life has been easy, protected from much of the trauma they have endured. I wonder about my joy? Am I as free as my friends here are? Do I lift people’s spirits the way these people lift mine? I hope so. I pray that people see Jesus in me in the same way I see him in my Zim friends.
Tomorrow morning I will leave for Zimbabwe. My bags are packed, the itinerary is planned, the bills are paid, and the people who might need me for something have been alerted. I don’t know how I can be more prepared. However, I have an unspecific feeling that I might be missing something. I have an uncertain intuition that unexpected circumstances will develop while I am traveling. How do I prepare for changes in the itinerary? What if I missed a bill that will come due while I’m gone? What if one of my children finds him or herself in a crisis? I can imagine many things that could happen, but probably won’t. Nevertheless, I am currently at a crossroads. I can allow worry to creep into my soul and tie me up. Or, I can choose to walk by faith.
I know that worry will steal my joy, stifle my creativity, and sabotage the flexibility that is so important during a trip like this. I desire to serve the Zimbabwean people. To do that effectively, I need to be alert and ready to adjust as I become more aware of how I can contribute. I need to live in each moment that I am there and release the other areas of my life. While I am in Zimbabwe my Spokane life is distant. It doesn’t make sense that I would try to control the happenings here while I am there.
Life is like that. I can’t change what has happened and I can’t control what will happen. I only have influence on the present. As a Christian, I depend on God’s mercy for mistakes of the past and I trust in his guidance for the future. Most importantly, I allocate his power to fully live in each moment. Worry is replaced with faith, joy is released in my soul, and I become a blessing to those around me.
I desire to become better at walking by faith.