I left Nairobi for Kigali in Rwanda on March 1, 2017, by motor coach for a 24-hour journey through Uganda and arriving in Kigali exactly 24 hours later at 4:55 p.m. on March 2. I checked into a local motel a few minutes from the Nyabugongo bus station. The following day our members Fabien and Michel Zilimwabagabo came in from Musanze so that we could map out our activities in the coming days. On the Sabbath of March 4, Fabien and I visited the Bugesera Bible study group in southeastern Rwanda.
The trip to this group was a three-hour journey by public transport and motorbike up to a rural town and to the homestead of Charles, the contact person of the group. Charles attended the Feast in Meru, Kenya, last year. We had a profitable Bible study, with Fabien translating into Kinyarwanda, since only three persons there can understand a little English and French. They asked good and encouraging questions at the Bible study.
There is, however, a dire need of Bibles in the Kinyarwanda language, which they requested to be assisted with. Due to regional government regulations requiring churches to be registered, they are required to meet in a rented hall until UCG receives formal registration in Rwanda. Charles and Fabien have been able to obtain temporary registration-related certification as they await full government approval. They were very appreciative of the ongoing translation of some key UCG booklets into Kinyarwanda. Fabien read for them certain sections of the draft copy so that they could understand better some of the topics we had covered during the question-and-answer sessions. After three hours of Bible study and fellowship a taxi was called to take us to the border of Rwanda and Burundi, where Fabien and I spent the night at the Nemba/Gasenyi border.
The following morning we crossed the border after the necessary immigration formalities and exchanging of Rwanda francs into Burundi francs. Once in Burundi we took a taxi for a one-and-a-half-hour journey to Kirundo where we connected with another bus for an additional five-hour trip to Bujumbura. From Bujumbura we took public transport for another hour and a half to Buganda village in Cibitoke province, arriving around 6 p.m. On the morning of March 6, Remy joined us as we rode motorbike taxis to the place this group meets for their Bible studies.
Again we had a very profitable Bible study, and this can be judged from the very good questions that were asked.
This group has transformed a great deal compared to the first time I visited. They are now very orderly, eager to understand the Truth and are requesting counseling for baptism. Three were counseled, and I see prospective baptisms in the group soon. Their contact person, Remy, only understands French, Kiswahili and Kirundi. However, there is one in the group, Charles, who understands English in addition to French and the native language. Charles, a musician and a good piano player, has been able to translate 15 UCG hymns into Kirundi. He is one of the individuals counseling for baptism along with Remy.
After the Bible study and fellowship Fabien, Remy, Charles and another individual proceeded to Remy’s home for lunch and further discussion on the needs of the work in Burundi. Just like the Bugesera group in Rwanda, this group also needs Bibles in Kirundi, in addition to translated literature into Kirundi. However, they said they would be okay with receiving translations in Kinyarwanda. The other request was for more pastoral visits if the budget would allow. After the afternoon lunch, fellowship and discussion, Fabien and I were escorted to the bus, and we made the journey back to Bujumbura where we spent the night.
Early the next morning of March 7, Fabien and I departed by taxi for a four-hour journey to the border town of Akanyaru, where we crossed back into Rwanda. Then we rode in a motor coach for another four hours to Kigali, the capital city, followed by a two-hour bus ride to Musanze, where we arrived at about 8:15 p.m. In Musanze, I found lodging, and Fabien caught a motorbike to his residence, which was about 10 kilometers away. Due to the busy schedule in the past few days, March 8 was devoted to resting. I must admit that all those hours sitting in buses, matatus and motorbikes is very taxing on the back.
On Thursday March 9, Fabien, Michel and I travelled to Nyabihu to visit another Bible study group. Here only a few families were available due to prior commitments. We held a very profitable Bible study followed by a question-and-answer session. They asked very good questions, which in my opinion were an indication they understood the contents of what they are being taught. Fabien and Michel interchangeably visit this group that normally numbers about nine families. After the Bible study we travelled back to Musanze. On March 10, I mentored Fabien and Michel and taught them how to conduct a services, prepare and give messages, pre-counsel individuals inquiring about baptism, etc. Afterwards we retired to prepare for the Sabbath.
On the Sabbath of March 11, we held a service at Musanze along with baptism counseling for about five individuals. I am very positive that God is working with some of the individuals in these areas I visited and the prospect of baptisms in the near future is promising. After services, fellowship, counseling and lunch I left and stayed overnight in Kigali. My back could no longer take the strain of a 24-hour bus ride home. So on Sunday morning I instead took a one-hour flight to Nairobi and arrived home safely.
Overall the safari to Rwanda and Burundi was very successful and profitable. Also having had the leaders there attend the Feast and leadership meetings annually with us here in Kenya has been quite beneficial. We thank God and ask that His will continue to be done.