Rwandan Update September 2019

Happy September!

It's a New Month and We Have a Lot of New News!

We hope your new school year is off to a good start!  We're so happy to be on this journey of doing the life-changing works of Jesus around the world, with YOU!

For those of you who are new to the LTU family, we're a Midland-based nonprofit that works with orphans and widows in post-genocide countries.  We currently operate in Rwanda, Iraq/Kurdistan, and Pakistan.  LTU coordinates with in-country partners to offer education sponsorships, nutrition programs, artisan craft programs, widow blessing programs, Bible teaching, refugee relief, and evangelism events.

Here's what's in this newsletter:
Part 1
  • Rwandan Church Closures
  • Sponsorship Life-Change Story
Part 2- Coming tomorrow
  • Kurdistan Partners: War and Hard Times
  • Pakistani Church Impact
It's an exciting time to be doing ministry in these places, so let's jump in and get started!
Rwanda - East Africa- Land of 1000 Hills

This topic has been a bit awkward and delicate, but there's really no way of talking about it without just being a little bit blunt.  We danced around the government's feelings all last year, but the time has come to just tell it like it is.
Last summer, the Rwandan government forcibly shut down over 8,000 churches all across the country.  It was done in the name of forced modernization, like what they had spent the last several years doing within the hotel and restaurant industries.  It was successful (and appreciated by THIS visitor) in those industries, but to do it to churches is something entirely different.
They shut down all house churches, tent churches, mud brick churches, and even many brick and mortar churches and gave them a list of structural improvements that had to be reached before they would be allowed to open again.   
Some of the things churches were told was: you have to have a parking lot, be by an approved road, not be on the side of a hill, install more toilets and they have to be flushing toilets (with the running water that we're not going to provide you with), you need new windows, a drop ceiling, new paint on the walls, a new sound booth, new chairs, a new floor, a better roof, a new church sign, and all of your pastors have to have seminary degrees- effective immediately!  Things like that.
These changes would have happened gradually, over time, as tithes came in and improvments were made; additions built on.
But saying it's 'all or nothing' right now, is over the top.
And while their intentions were seemingly good, they have the goal of restoring dignity to the people of Rwanda post-genocide, their execution was not.  Unlike hotels and restaurants that could not afford the repairs, which effected only the owners of those places, closing churches breaks the hearts and spirits of millions of your own people.  

One of the 8,000 vibrant, Spirit-filled churches across Rwanda that was permanently closed last summer...and remains closed.
Within the span of a couple of months (and continuing to now), our sources estimate that the government shut down 7 out of 10 churches in the predominantly Christian nation of Rwanda.  There are over 12 million people in this small, crowded nation.  Where is everyone supposed to go in the mean time?  For the deep-pocketed Catholic churches it wasn't a problem.  But for the rural, impoverished areas where the people are barely surviving- how can they build a fancy, new church that is up to the government's standards?  They can't.  There's no way that they can. It's impossible.
The Church is the center of the community in Rwandan life.  These people are dedicated, passionate, and hungry for the Lord.  And now it's illegal for them to even gather?  They can't meet outside or rent community spaces either, because now that's illegal, too.  And what about their starving children?  Our Nutrition Program can't expand to places like this, unless there is a church to operate out of.
Our partner church that was closed is located in Nyemesheki, the poorest region of Rwanda, was closed.  There are 200 adults and 600+ children from this congregation, who have not been able to go to church for over 1.5 years.
So after a year of planning, visiting the people of this church again this year, and seeing their despair and broken hardheartedness, LTU is happy to announce that we are now in a position to do something about it!
Last year, a generous donor from Kansas made it possible for us to hire an architect, who designed us a government-approved building.  The church found some government approved land and we have a cost estimate and a plan!

Here's Our Plan!

The total cost of building this church is $100,000.  This includes the land and the building.  Here's what we're hoping to do:

  • $50,000- Find 5 churches who will each raise $10,000 for these brothers and sisters in Christ
  • $10,000- Connect with 10 generous individuals, who will donate $1,000 each for the cause
  • $40,000- Apply for grants locally and nationally

We'll have more detailed information on this for you in the future, but for now- if you would like to be a part of this church-building project or know someone who would be interested, please shoot me an email at and we'll get together and talk some more!

Donate to Rwanda Church Project
Sponsorship Changes Lives!
Meet Ms. Ruth!
Ruth was one of our first kiddos to get sponsored, back when we started in 2017.  She was tiny, malnurished, and had a rough home life.
In just months after getting sponsored though, Ruth was already doing better.  Her life had changed dramatically.  She was in school and had healthcare.  She had new clothes, a school uniform, and new shoes.  She had a new backpack and hygiene supplies.  And most importantly, she had hope at having a bright future! You can see it in her eyes as her timeline pictures progress.
But when I went to visit in 2017, I went with her pastors on a home visit and we found out that she was living in an open-air hut... in a rain forest climate (that's also in the mountains and chilly), with her mother and little sisters.  This was not ok.  Even the pastors were shocked. 
We don't normally do this, but the Sr. pastor asked us how much money we had in our pockets.  Together we had the equivalent of $17.  We gave everything we had to him, he gave it to the local pastor (Pastor Jacques, pictured with the family) and Jacques gave it to the mother.  Then he told her, "Go to *this* place and buy mud for your walls and next week the church will send volunteers and we will put walls on your house.
And true to his word, the next week the church put walls on the house.  Can you image the difference that made?
And then for Christmas that year, Ruth received a bed, a blanket, a mosquito net, a tub for washing clothes and bathing, and a Bible in her native language.  She had been sleeping on the cold, dirt floor before, but now she could sleep safely and comfortably and get a good night's rest, which has helped her do better in school!  
And the next year for Christmas, Ruth got a goat and seeds for a garden, along with training in how to be successful in both goat tending and gardening.  She was sooo excited!  AND she had been getting hot meals every Saturday at the church, private tutoring at least 3 times a week, food sent home with her monthly, and she had a strong support network, rooting for her success!  
Through letters and pictures shared with her sponsors, Ruth found out that the woman sponsoring her was a cop, so now Ms. Ruth wants to be a cop, too!  And since the Rwandan government has a strong military and police force, along with equal opportunities for women, this dream is definitely a possibility for her!
When I showed up for my 2019 visit, I actually spent about 10 minutes looking for Ruth at the Sponsorship Party.  Turns out she was standing right in front of me the whole time, but I had been looking for the short, scrappy little girl who liked to dance, not the much taller, confident and beautiful young woman that she had turned into!
All signs of malnutrition were GONE. Praise Jesus! And she has become a leader in the group of nearly 30 children from this church who are in the Sponsorship Program.  She also serves in her local church, where she's a talented dancer in the church choir.  This girl is on her way to going places!
And it's all because of her American sponsors!  They saw a malnourished little girl in a Ninja Turtle shirt and a kilt and chose to invest in her life, her family, her community, and her country.  And for Ms. Ruth and her family- it has changed their lives!
Ms. Ruth with her support network.  It takes a village to raise a child!  She's in the maroon shirt.  Beside her is the LTU Project Manager, Mugabe. Next to him is the local church pastor, Pastor Jacques. Behind her is her tutor.  The 4 ladies are the ones who cook for the kids every week.  And then me and two of our Board members, Reuben and Wes.
Ms. Ruth is just 1 success story of our now 67 kids that have been sponsored in Rwanda.  Her sponsors have made a real difference and you can too!
Would you like to sponsor a child? Our hope and prayer is to have 100 children sponsored by Christmas, so that their lives can begin the same transformation that Ruth's has gone through.  It's through actions like this that God's desire to see this post-genocide nation restored, elevated, and sent out into the world will be realized.

The cost is only $40 a month and your kiddos will get everything that Ruth did.  

Go to  today to get started! You can get set-up with auto-gifts that will be deducted on either the 1st of the 15th of each month and I'll send you pictures and updates of your sponsored child every year, so that you can track their progress!  You'll also be invited to join me on our annual trips to Rwanda every year, so that you can meet your child in person!

If you have a hard time choosing, just shoot me a message.  I keep in touch with the pastors, who tell me the ones that are in critical need of being sponsored, like Eric (pictured above), who is our Featured Child of the Week!

It's such a blessing and an honor to get to be involved in this process.  Thank you for sharing your time with me and a HUGE 'Thank you!' to all of our sponsors and donors across the country.  I can feel the Lord's joy when I look at the hope that these children carry now and I hope that you can too.

God bless you and stay tuned for an update tomorrow about our projects in Iraq and Pakistan!


Kendra Willard