A Church Is Born

September 29 2014 / ShareHim in Rwanda, Jul. 5 - Jul. 20 '13 #639
by Dr. Carmen Kerr

Personal Testimony of Carmen Kerr.

Summer 2013 in Rwanda was very remarkable. It was one of those remote places that I thought I would never visit. I arrived in Rwanda July 3, 2014. The scenery at night was awesome. The city lights seen from the top of the hill made the view breathtaking. I arrived at the Virunga Hotel where I was well received by the hotel staff. I had ventured to go alone on this mission trip from New York but I was joined to a group that had gone to Rwanda on the same mission from New Mexico, spear headed by Sue Hinkle. The group was very caring. I was assigned to speak in Garukkebe (Muzanze).

I felt at home the very first night I stood up to preach because it reminded me of my upbringing as a child. It was wide open field where children could run freely. Except for a few benches at the front everyone was seated on the ground. My campaign was held at Garuka centre. This was in Rwanda Union Mission (RUM), Northern Rwanda Conference (NRC) and NYARUGINA District. The event was supported by four churches: Gapfuro S.D.A church, Musanze S.D.A Church, Ruhanga S.D.A church and Nyarugina S.D.A church. This was organized under the guidance of the District Leader Pr. Francois Kanoti.

Leaving the main road it was about a five mile drive through a very rocky road to the location. The scenery was filled with rows and rows of overarching eucalyptus trees. The meetings were kept in open air. On my arrival the children would run behind the car and wave hello. I was fascinated with them as they collected their stones piling them one on top of each other and gathered a few shrub as they placed it on top of the stones and finally had a perfect seat. A young man by the name of Philbert Niyifasha operated the sound system night after night. There was a little thatched structured make of zinc and wood to host the platform party but everything was done at ground level. The very first night we had technical difficulties as we tried to set up but God came through.
On Sabbath morning I was met by a troop of pathfinders who escorted my interpreter, Charles Ntambara, Pr. Kanoti, and myself from the car. It was unbelievable what I saw. As far as my eyes could see, there were people like the sand on the seashore. I have never seen so many people in one location seated on the ground and I was impressed. The sun did not disturb them because they had their umbrellas for shade. When the appeal was make many people came forward. A Bible class was started with over 100 persons who studied diligently. The enemy was not happy. We had nightly disturbances when the light would go but the people did not leave. They would stay until the problems were resolved. Many choirs lifted on high the name of the Lord, both young and old. It was a pleasure to see the various cultural attires displayed each time they performed.
One Sabbath afternoon I went with Pr. Kanoti and a few others to do house visitation. We knocked on a certain door and a young lady with a one-week-old baby came to open the door. She told us that she has been listening to the sermons night after night and as soon as she’s able she wants to be baptized. I praised God for the many ways He had of leading people to Him. The day of the baptism came and we had to travel four miles to Ruhanga S.D.A. Church for the baptism. There was not enough transportation for everyone so many people went on foot.

When we got to Ruhanga they were having a pathfinders’ celebration. There were more than a 1,000 people gathered at the church. We were given a warm welcome and a great program was presented. Finally we went outside to the yard where the baptismal pool was located. The pool side was jam-packed but I managed to wade myself through the crowd. Excitement was running high! Everyone was rejoicing. I was there happily taping the baptism when all of a sudden I felt like all the energy was being drained out of my body and I was going to fall. I started to pray earnestly and ask God not to let me pass out because I felt it coming. I gave the camera to my interpreter, Charles and asked him to do the taping and get me water because I did not feel well. Suddenly I felt like someone had turn on a hose on me. I was been washed with water. I took the water that I had, sipping, washing my face, drinking and praying at the same time for God to bear me up.

The pastor in the pool must have seen what was happening because they started to clear away everyone from around me and I know that he was praying for me. I searched in my bag for something to eat and found some bits and pieces. They asked me if I wanted to go but I said ‘No’ I was too weak and I could not move. I preferred to wait until it was over and the crowd was gone entirely. All this time I was praying earnestly because I know that I was miles from any type of clinic or hospital. When the pastor was sure that the worse had passed he continued with the baptism.

When everyone was gone someone helped me to get up because I was so weak, I felt that my dress was soaking wet. I was left with a nauseous feeling in my stomach and a terrible hunger. I had not eaten anything substantial all day and as a diabetic, apparently my sugar level had dropped. They eventually got me something to eat but it was hours before I felt that I was back to normal. I thank God that I was able to live to tell the tale. Satan did not win! Thank God, forty five precious souls were baptized and another was added by profession of faith. The others who did not get baptized continued to prepare for the next baptism. The leaders decided that since there was no church in this area they would start a church with the newly baptized group naming it after the center that the meetings were held. Hence, “A church is born!! It is called “Garuka S.D.A. Church.” To God be the glory, great things He hath done.
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