We just returned from a blessed trip to Rwanda where we partnered primarily with a large Pentecostal denomination (over 3,100 churches all throughout Rwanda), as well as with the youth ministry of our BT missionary, Linda Smith, in Kigali.

Rwanda is a small country that underwent a horrific genocide in 1994.  It’s been 28 years since then, but that terrible time continues to hang like a dark cloud over the country.  Many of the perpetrators were neighbors killing their neighbors, and 1 million Rwandans were slaughtered in 100 days.  After all these years, some of these perpetrators have served their sentences and are now being released and are returning to their home communities to live with the people whose family members they killed.  Many are understandably having a difficult time with forgiveness and reconciliation.  The churches are attempting to address this biblically and sensitively across the country.

At the same time, the country continues to move past this dark cloud and has a vision to become a key African hub for business and computer technology.  This has made the churches very interested in implementing Business as Missions (or Business as Ministry) training for their church members.

BAM Seminars
BAM has many definitions across the missions world, such as ‘“the Strategic use of business to create opportunities to minister and evangelize within the business’s spheres of influence.”  Within BAM there are differences between marketplace ministries, tentmaking, business for missions (using business to donate profits towards missions), “B4T” —business for transformation—and other BAM types and sub-types.

My personal working definition of BAM is “viewing our business or workplace as a mission or ministry,” and letting everything flow from that.  Our trip goal was to help our local church partners equip their church members holistically— with practical, business training as well as business missional training—so that they could view their businesses or workplaces missionally.  We also welcomed non-believers to come and participate.  Our team leveraged some of our church BAM people, including a retail executive, my own experience, and an accountant. In addition, we asked our new friend, Dr. Shikoh Gitau, a known Kenyan entrepreneur, to do a Design Thinking workshop alongside our classes.

We spent four evenings conducting customized trainings for our church partners, with titles such as “Christian Business Ethics,” “The Role of Businesspeople in the Local Church,” “Leadership Lessons” and “Redemptive Entrepreneurship.”  I gave the most space for Shikoh and her colleague to run a Design Thinking workshop, where we split up the 100+ people that came into groups of 4 or 5; and at the end we ran a Business Idea competition with the winning idea being a way to recycle plastic garbage into new plastic products.  Shikoh plans to return to Rwanda to conduct a Design Thinking sprint where our winner will automatically join this competition with the goal of winning a real money prize at the end of the year.  The high engagement of our audience was very encouraging.  In addition, the whole seminar was livestreamed on the church Youtube channel, so that thousands more people were able to watch online.

English Classes
English proficiency has also become very important, particularly English in a business context.

Our team provided English classes primarily to help the existing church community to improve their skills, but also as an outreach to the community.  In addition to our standard English classes, we provided a Business English course for those interested in learning how to use English in a business setting, such as the hospitality industry, retail, and import/export.  The hotel where we stayed is owned by the church network, so they asked for their staff to get this training.  Ultimately, if the hotel does well, the church can gain more income to do more ministry.

Each class featured our “Conversation Club” segment, where we discuss topics such as “Forgiveness,” “Compassion” and “Love.”  These classes always provide our best bridge to share the gospel with non-believers or provide discipleship lessons with our Christian students.  We had four classes with approximately 100 students total for the week.

Linda Smith’s Ministry
Our Brooklyn Tabernacle missionary, Linda, founded a ministry in Rwanda to minister to orphans of the genocide.  She teaches skills such as photography and art as a bridge to share Jesus with the children.  Many young people have graduated from the program over the years, so the ministry continues to enroll new children as they have space, with a current enrollment of more than 40 children and teens.

We were able to spend time with the children. They did a presentation for us, and we in turn did a children’s ministry program for them with simple English lessons and activities.

We also met with the women of a co-op to whom Linda has ministered for years.  We were able to give a practical budgeting class using their own monthly costs and provide some spiritual lessons, along with a testimony. I also gave a short gospel message, as we had some Muslims in the group.

Pentecostal Churches of Rwanda
Lastly, we spent the whole week with the leaders and workers of ADEPR (Pentecostal Churches of Rwanda).  They were really amazing people. The staff, workers and volunteers worked together with us as if we had been family.  On Sunday, we served with the English-speaking church in Kigali; and they sang Brooklyn Tabernacle songs for us, which was a pleasant surprise.  I shared a message on “Forgiveness,” which I heard some students refer to later in the week, when we did a separate English conversation class on “Forgiveness.”  They said that these sessions helped them to forgive others in their personal situations.  Our team also provided the Sunday School lesson to more than 200 children in their service, on the theme of “God as Our Father.”

On the last day, we went to a football ministry called Ambassador’s Football, which is run by our ADEPR church liaison, Pastor Seneza.  We were with more than 200+ children who learn how to play soccer and learn about Jesus at the same time.  We delivered more than 40 soccer balls, and I shared a simple gospel message with the kids.

Please continue to pray for our church partners, Linda’s ministry, and for the people of Rwanda to come to a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.