by Zack McConnell
Wednesday, May 22
On Wednesday, our group headed back to the Compassion school in Karangazi. When we arrived we congregated at the church adjacent to the school. We were greeted with warmth and sincerity by our hosts. Then a sea of giggling children came in the church and we were treated with a performance of song and dance. Our hosts had many kind words to say to us and we got to hear from a few Compassion kids who shared with us their gratefulness and excitement for the future. Jason, Candace, and Tyler got to meet with their Compassion kids they had been sponsoring for years and received thank you gifts. Jason was adorned with a very unique hat and some cake that his Compassion kid made—this was as amusing as it was sweet. A few of the Compassion kids came up to share some words. I wish I could remember exactly what they said but what I remember the most is the sincerity and thankfulness they expressed. One of the older kids actually came up and preached to us. After the greetings, thanks, and presentations, we got to have a mini-dance party with the Compassion kids. Eventually, we made our way outside and played games. There’s something about children that just makes things light. Their laughter softens your heart. Their curiosity is genuine and innocent, reminding me of my awe and intrigue when getting to know something new about my Heavenly Father. Prior to this trip, I had built up some walls to ensure that my Rwandan experience was not one of mere consumption nor did I want to patronize. The kids shattered my ego and my pride dissipated. For a short while, I just got to play with my little brothers and sisters and laugh together. We headed back to Gahini for lunch and some of us rested peacefully while others were wide awake, filled with joy.
In the afternoon, we toured the village of Gahini. We walked up a long road that had just been fully paved and equipped with light fixtures. Along the path, we stopped at a memorial remembering a miracle that happened in Gahini. An exterior wall of a schoolhouse building had begun to separate and had a literal crack between the bricks reaching halfway down the entire wall. Our guide, Rodney, explained that the people and ministers of the local church came out and prayed together for the strange event that was taking place. After five hours of prayer, the wall mysteriously came back together. This was one of the first miracles in Gahini. The leading minister said that the wall signified the divisions between people in the community at that time. He asked the people to pray to the Holy Spirit for the strength and power to come together in unity just as the wall came back together.
We also visited a small hut that acted as an ebenezer for the town. The hut marked the spot where the people of Gahini encountered the Holy Spirit. Rodney translated from a local guide who told us the story of what happened. Rodney shared an account from his uncle who had also encountered the spirit at that time. In the recounting, the people were congregated in town and suddenly began vomiting and confessing their sins to one another and speaking in tongues. More people came to see what was going on and they too began vomiting and confessing their sins. We stayed in the hut for a short while to pray and remember the events of Pentecost.
After that, we walked further into Gahini and got to see a massive church building that had finished construction in time for Bishop Manasseh’s installment. The church rivals the magnitude of a mega-church in the U.S. There’s a memorial pool on the outside of the church displaying our call to minister to the nations. We then toured the Hospital of Gahini which is furnished with a full maternity ward—the only other maternity ward in Rwanda besides the one in Kigali. I was impressed with the infrastructure of the hospital as well as its size.
One of my favorite things about the trip thus far is the time we spend together eating meals and riding on the bus. I love getting to share this experience with some of my close friends and my new ones. It’s been a gift getting to be together.