Tag Archives: Singing

A Lesson in Rwanda

If you have been following this blog at all you’ve probably picked up that our first choir performance last week was humiliating. Hilarious is retrospect but humiliating. We actually stopped in the middle of the songs. Yes, both songs. We didn’t even finish the second one and we slunk off the stage. What would you do if your CD quit and you didn’t know the words??

We have been working very hard all week long at choir practice and today we got to sing Amazing Grace / My Chains Are Gone and Blessed Be Your Name at Pastor Simon’s church. In comparison, we were fabulous. In reality, probably mediocre but we’ll take it. The congregation actually clapped and smiled and a few even waved. We left feeling quite relieved.

This afternoon we went to a concert being held at Pastor Simon’s church. They had invited singing groups from all the local churches to come together for an afternoon (3 1/2 hours) of singing. They were all incredible. At one point, the power went out just as the next singer in line was getting ready to start. He had planned on using power point, his electric guitar and his backup keyboard. He just shrugged, unplugged the guitar and used it without power. He proceeded to give a beautiful ballad about the love of God. He smiled, walked off.

And then the director looked in our direction. The only word I understood was “Muzunga” and then all 500 pairs of big brown eyes all looked at us expectantly. You have got to be kidding. We have to sing for ALL the local choirs….without power? No CD? Again? Pastor Simon will always be my hero because he said “No, the Americans can not sing without power”.

I am not positive but I think the entire room started praying for power. God hears the prayers of these people. About five minutes later, we’re back up at the front of the church belting out the lyrics to Amazing Grace. “My chains are gone…I’ve been set free.. My God, My Saviour has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, Amazing Grace”. This time…they cheered. They weren’t cheering for us. We’re still a bunch of mazungas who really are basically tone deaf. They were cheering for Christ and for the Freedom He Gives.

The lesson from Rwanda? When you don’t get the plan you wanted, keep singing.



Filed under Rwanda


The Gisenyi Bridge Church of the Nazarene is a L shaped brick building. It has large stained glass windows with various colors of crosses. The roof is sheet metal. The sound booth is a wooden scaffolding with a blue plastic chair on top. The sound equipment and cords are snaked down the scaffolding and held in place with red electric tape. The chairs are all blue plastic.

The congregation came dressed in their best. The worship team all work dress black shirts. Well, all but one. One of the worship team is a man named Justin. He was one of the graduates yesterday and he wore the same shirt he had on for graduation. His best shirt is a bright green t-shirt with kittens with santa hats that says Merry Christmas.

The worship band sang several beautiful songs, they took an offering, read from the Bible. We sang. Whew. Then Pastor Larry preached. He should have been a Southern Baptist. You have not seen Pastor Larry preach until you see him preach in three languages.

Gisenyi sits only 12 miles away from the border to the Congo. As a result, the Bridge Church has quite a few Congolese refugees as members. Each service is in Swahili and Kinya-Rwanda. Today they added English. Pastor preached on Matthew 18, the story of the unforgiving servant. You can’t really tell the Rwandans anything new about forgiveness. They live it every day. But Pastor said he wanted to encourage them to continue in their amazing testament to the power of grace and he did just that. We have video.

After the triple message, six young Rwandans dressed in jeans and various red t-shirts (Bon Jovi, The Chicago Bulls) came down the aisle. They proceeded to dance… At the Cross I bow My Knee where your blood was shed for me. You tore the veil, you made a way. You know my name. I know you love me. The music was up as loud as the speakers could bear, the girls were grace in motion.

And then…it started to rain. African Big Rain. The rain came down on the sheet metal roof and it sounded exactly as if heaven was applauding. Dance. Sing. Love. Pray. Forgive

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Filed under Rwanda