Touchdown Rwanda!

by - 10:52 PM

Greeted at the airport by Dudu, Rachel, Winnie, Sabrina, Nissy, and Luc :)

OH JOY. GOD INDEED DOES THE IMPOSSIBLE! I touched down in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda on a Tuesday afternoon (15th of November 2016). I never thought I'd be greeted by so many familiar faces. I had met some of these young people in my last trip in 2015, and I felt so blessed that this time round they were here to welcome me.

We stood in a circle outside the airport and prayed together for one another – thanking God for uniting us and giving me the chance to come back. The way I met every single person in Rwanda is just a crazy God-story in itself. For me, mission was always about following God’s voice to the tough and unusual places. It was always about tapping into His heart for the people on the ground – especially the young people, the children, and the families. My main objective is to ‘be with’ people. The most important thing in life is building a relationship with God and with others. For me, crossing cultures became a very important part of my way of life, because I believe God created us all to be different and yet to cross paths, to interact, to unify, to love, to join hands and redeem our differences for His good purposes. Coming to Rwanda (or going anywhere else for that matter), had never been about doing projects or preaching to people – for me, it was always about learning to love like God loves. I’m continuing to learn how to see people like He does. There are many times I fail to do that, because I judge, I have my prejudices and preconceptions, but time and again God challenges me to experience life differently.

Throughout this year, I’ve shed many tears and made many prayers along the way as I learnt how to trust God’s voice and to make decisions that align to His vision. As I took on the challenge in March 2016 to commence my Master of Teaching (Music) at Monash University, one of the key things that motivated my choice to pursue music education was the thought of going back to Africa (and other parts of the world) to use my creative talents alongside my faith and passion for social justice (the way Jesus did it). It was a like a seed sown into my heart of hearts. I recall that it was since 2012 – when I was 18 turning 19 – that this seed began to grow. I remember it was at that time in June, when I was in Thailand and Malaysia on holiday with my family that I began to pray about international mission work and reaching street children and youth in tough places. It was a burn in my spirit that drove me to tears. I still remember the room that I made that prayer in. I was crying and I felt God say to me that it will take a few years for me to learn, to grow, to get to the place where I am ready to go somewhere far away. At that time, I thought I’d go to India, if God was calling me to Asia. Then I thought I’d go to Uganda, if God was calling me to Africa. Funnily enough, God always changes things up and makes sure the impossible happens when we dare enough to trust Him and walk in obedience. In regards to being travel-smart, I had to prove myself first – that I was responsible enough to go off on my own. I prayed about that, and asked God for the opportunity to prove myself and to learn how to travel before I went far, far away.

So in February 2014, I planned my first solo month-long backpacking trip up the Australian East Coast. In July and August of the same year, I ended up going to Israel and Jordan for a 50-day backpacking-volunteer stint in an Arab-Druze village – that’s another story in itself. (I never thought that my first mission travel trip would be to the Middle East instead of Asia or Africa! But that’s how God surprises us sometimes…) In the same crazy year, I made my first mission travel trip to Africa that December – covering Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania in the one trip! I don’t know how it all happened in 2014 – but that was the year that God marked me. He was calling me out. He told me that from then on, everything would change. He was going to teach me how to be like His daughter. No longer would I live with those insecurities, those fears, those sins that used to trap me and try to cut me off from my destiny. In October 2015, returned to Rwanda for the second time, and that clinched it. I also went to Uganda in that trip. Everything that happened then, every person that I met, was a key to my calling in Africa, I knew that God had something for me to do in this continent that would continue many years down the road.

Let me share something personal: In 2014, before my first-ever Africa trip that would start off in Zimbabwe, I had a vision that I was walking along this red, dusty dirt road under an azure blue sky. As I walked, individual young people came and followed me, some walked alongside me for the journey, others joined me for a short time and then stayed back at passing villages. Then it changed to night, and when all was dark, we were still walking – but now I had a bright lamp in my hand, and the light was guiding our way. As I asked God about that impression in my mind’s eye, I understood that He was calling me to influence and impact other young people from other cultures and nations. He was going to give me His Word as a lamp and light to my feet. It would bring illumination and direction to many, both along the way, as well as those who would do the long distance journey of discipleship with me.

Now, as I embarked on this 3rd missionary journey to Africa in November 2016, I could not deny that there was a calling, a tug, an inclination, toward the unknown and toward the Rwandan young people God had connected me to in the previous year. I have already begun to see the fulfillment (or rather, the unfolding) of the vision that God gave me. God is calling me to individuals. There were times when I felt Him ask me, “Are you willing to work in obscurity?” It meant that my influence and impact would depend on my willingness to spend intentional and quality time with a few key individuals and perhaps their families. It wasn’t going to be about starting an organization, doing large events or crusades, or creating something ‘big’. I wasn’t going to get any credit to my name or have some way of measuring ‘results’. It would be unpredictable (and yet full of assurance in God). It would sometimes feel like I’m not doing something ‘substantial’ – and yet it would be one of the most substantial things I do with my life, because I would be building a foundation on strong, personal relationships and friendships with local young people on the ground. And that’s the way Jesus did things when He walked the earth. He personally called, discipled, spent quality time with, and empowered twelve guys who then turned the Roman empire upside down with a lifestyle of love, integrity, truth, justice, compassion, and a mission to die to selfish ambition in order to bring the reality of God’s kingdom to earth.

So when I touched down in Rwanda for the 3rd third, I had all these thoughts – these back-stories – sitting on the shelf of my heart and mind. I knew I would be in the right place. I remembered how God assured me that there were young people that I was going to meet, and that He had already ‘prepared hearts’ to receive me. All these reflections formed the conviction that I was indeed back on this unconventional mission with young people on the ground who are of the same heart and spirit for a purpose larger than myself. 

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