The first time that a group of 19 pastors from Ngoma heard about holistic transformation ministry, they were excited to know that there was hope for their community. For years, they felt overwhelmed and helpless by the challenges they were facing this community. They were preaching every Sunday in their local churches, but this did not seem to result to real transformation in people’s lives.
The divisions in the church were deep and each denomination was trying to do ministry on their own. Many young people were unemployed and this frustration led many into despair and poverty. The pastors themselves were not able to provide for their families and this brought frustration to them. Because of this, they could not be an example to others on how they could lift themselves from poverty. Pastors would even face ridicule from villagers as their ministry seemed irrelevant to respond to the real problems they faced.
During the first training session by PA in 2016, they were excited to learn about the calling of the church as the agents of transformation in their communities. Finally, there was hope! They had found partners who would walk alongside them as they served their community.
Once they registered the group with the government, their first step for the pastors was to build unity among the different denominations. This was done through forming bible study groups for the pastors and then for members in each church represented. The study is done at people’s homes and the visits have increased fellowship and interaction among the churches. Each church has committed to encourage members to share Christ’s love with their neighbors. There are joint outreach events every four months and through this, the Church, regardless of the different denominations is beginning to gain a voice in the community.
As a way of dealing with poverty, the pastors organized themselves and their congregants to begin making savings to a joint pool. Each member can access a loan which is used to set up an Income Generating Activity. A tailoring workshop has recently been set up to help unemployed youth with skills they can use to earn a living. Some members in the different churches who are established tailors, volunteered their time to mentor and train the young people. The government has been marketing, ‘made in Rwanda’, to urge citizens to buy from local businesses. So far, there are 14 young people at the workshop and they look forward to starting their own businesses and some are looking forward to be employed once they graduate.
Each church has an active Sunday school, where children are being trained in the ways of God each week. 3 of the churches have set up early childhood centers which provide an opportunity for 240 children from poor families to get basic education before they move to primary schools. At the centers, they are also learn from the bible and Godly values are being planted in them from an early age.
Possibilities Africa continues to provide support to Ngoma community through conducting relevant training sessions for pastors, visiting the group regularly for monitoring and helping them to access resources for the growth of their projects. It is exciting to see the church fulfilling its mission in this community.