Dr Tim Keller memorably commented: “A life poured out in deeds of service to the poor is the inevitable sign of real, true, justifying, gospel-faith. Grace makes you just.” One of our St. Simon’s NV missionaries who embodies this heart for restorative justice and reconciliation is Hilary King, Executive Director of Embrace Rwanda. After seventeen mission trips to Rwanda, Hilary is building on the reconciliation work that was already started after the genocide and is seeing significant healing between the formerly warring tribal groups. Instead of doing genocide, they are doing justice and forgiveness with their neighbours who had often taken the lives of their closest family members. Instead of bitterness and hatred, they are taking part in shared projects involving microbusinesses, early childhood education, and maternal health. Embrace Rwanda is living proof that Christ-centered mission can radically change lives, making them more just and loving. Thousands of families are living out a more godly, holistic life, because of the missional commitment to justice by Embrace Rwanda. One participant Jeanne says, “I feel accepted now. I have learned many new things. We share stories about our lives and I have learnt how to improve my farming and to prepare a balanced diet for my family. I have seen my child gain weight. I see the importance of saving money and am even comfortable going to the bank now. The tailoring I learnt enabled me to make this dress and the shirt for my boy. I now have a dress shop business. We study the Bible. It has taught us how to live in our community in peace with one another”.
Doing justice with Embrace Rwanda involves helping unemployed impoverished people to earn a living through vocational training. The local Rwanda governments are recognizing the value of the local Embrace Rwanda Vocational Training Centres and the gift of tool kits to get the new graduates started in their businesses. The Nyamagabe District representative commented, “This is unbelievable, to give a student the required skills and knowledge and at the same time equipping him or her with the basic needs to start a job!” One girl joyfully commented, “When I joined this school of construction, I was fearing that I could not make it. Thanks be to God for Embrace Rwanda that empowered me. I will make sure I value the skills and knowledge I got”.
This ministry of justice and reconciliation began in 2006 when Hilary noticed that many mothers were unable because of malnutrition to carry their babies to full term. In response, Embrace Rwanda birthed the Healthy Mums Project, in which mothers from eleven local districts of Rwanda receive a goat and materials to start a kitchen garden, using the goat manure to produce healthy vegetables. As a result, many Rwandan mothers are now able to bring their babies to full term, with a significant reduction in the death of mothers and babies. Doing justice involves many aspects of life, including birthing preschools in local chapels, a significant innovation in Rwandan culture. With the active support of the local Rwandan Mothers’ Unions, Embrace Rwanda is doing justice in assisting women in starting Credit and Savings associations. Hilary King commented: “Embrace Rwanda is not about going into a community and telling them what to do. It’s more enabling them to decide what they need to do, assisting them to do it, and seeing that they can make the progress themselves. As a result, the women in the Embrace Rwanda Projects have ownership of their activities. They feel empowered. In fact their neighbours notice the difference. They feel important in the community now.” Almost all the women, involved with Embrace Rwanda, were affected in some way or another by the genocide. Through Embrace Rwanda, their shame and trauma has been replaced with a sense of acceptance and love. The Gospel of Jesus’ love, justice, and reconciliation is making a practical difference in the lives of thousands of Rwandan women and families. You are invited to check out two well produced online films on the Embrace Rwanda website at www.embracerwanda.org
Prayer: Dear Father, We pray for the inbreaking of your Kingdom and justice as we seek your purposes and will. May the Gospel of Jesus Christ bring reconciliation and healing in the lives of mothers and families in both Rwanda and North Vancouver in unexpected ways. May God use Embrace Rwanda and other missions to bring hope, forgiveness and justice to thousands of hurting, broken mothers. We trust that you will use us to bring justice and strength to Rwandan and North Vancouver mothers who are overwhelmed and lonely to find hope in their difficult challenge of parenting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in Canada