By Judah Holland, Team Member April 2017

“God, I know that I have to be obedient and trust you in all things.  The small things. The hard things.  Every time God comes to us with a new ‘trust exercise’ we play that tape that tells us why we can't - I don’t have the education, the position, the spouse, the experience, the money, the …. We have this tape that settles us and makes us back down.  Instead, we need to recognize who we already are in God.  He isn't expecting us to "get ready" to work for him. God isn't like man who waits to promote you once you have your stuff together. He has created us as we are - complete only with him.  He isn't looking for a more complete resume or talent profile.  His words are clear.  He wants us to love one another. He wants us to love him more than the air we breathe.”

I wrote these words just before I decided to go to Rwanda. 

What was I thinking?

I didn’t know anyone who was going.  I had never been to Africa.  I’m not a pastor or in the ministry and I haven’t even been on a mission trip since I was a kid.  How would my kids and family be taken care of and what about my job.

As I look back on my journal entries, I remember the excitement as I anticipated new faces, languages, smells, food and culture.  I was praying God would expand my knowledge of him and allow me to beyond my Americanized view.  I was praying I would cook (since I am kind of a foodie), laugh and celebrate hope alongside the women.  And I prayed that I would not be ashamed of who he made me to be and give me a love for these women. 

God did not disappoint and even provided more than I had anticipated. 

The people of Rwanda are amazingly resilient.  They love and accept you without needing to see qualifications or background.  They take care of each other.   I think what makes this kind of love and care so beautiful is that it was birthed out of pain. 

The genocide erupted from hatred and left enormous holes in the fabric of their society.  It literally ripped families apart as nearly 1 million people were killed in the span of 100 day.  Families were destroyed leaving many fatherless and communities filled with orphans and widows. 

But that's not the whole story.

From these dark days the people of Rwanda have created a platform for peace and reconciliation and a new sense of community is emerging.  Do they still struggle to trust others and for provision? Sure, but there is no question that God is who they must rely on for community, for love, for justice and for peace. 

The people of Rwanda are a beautiful picture of how we must cling to the goodness of God. 

For me personally, I am grateful for the love the women showed toward me.  They invited me closer as we attempted to speak each other's language.  We danced and worshipped together -- without reservation.  They welcomed me as a sister.  It was a new sense of love and freedom for me.

I saw more of God in the way they worshiped him without reservation. 

I saw more of God in the way each person had a role and it’s a delicate balance to ensure the total picture is complete. 

I saw more God in the way they made use of everything the land provided.

I saw more of God as they looked to a future with hope.  

I saw more of God when they were curious about me (my freckles, tattoo sleeve and farmer's tan).

I must admit.  I fell in love with Rwanda on our very first date!