A Gift That Changed Everything

My heart pounding from worry, I pulled the last gift out of the wrinkled bag. It was just enough. In the middle of rural Rwanda I stood in awe at the power of God on display.

Just two weeks prior the Lord nudged me to buy more. What could women living in a remote village in Africa possibly want from my suburban Dollar General store? I reluctantly obeyed and purchased extra vanity bags stocked with toiletries—toothbrushes, lip gloss, deodorant, and maxi pads.

I left Texas last year for a short adventure in Rwanda and came back changed for a lifetime. When I close my eyes I can still see it. The capital city of Kigali bustling with activity—motor bikes whizzing by, pathways crowded with people, and twisty streets only a local could navigate. I struggled to see how a violent murder spree could have taken place here. We visited the Genocide Memorial and I saw just how far this nation has come since the 1994 massacre—evidence of God’s redemptive power.

Our journey continued throughout the countryside where lush green hills carpet every crevice of the landscape. I rejoiced in the experience of this beautiful and humbling place. It was as if I traveled back in time to an age when running water, electricity, and plentiful paved roads didn’t exist. What I found surprised me—most Africans live without modern comforts, yet they radiate joy and give generously.

Everyone we visited eagerly welcomed us into their homes and told us how their lives had been transformed because of TLAfrica donors. Beaming with pride because we chose to visit them, I felt unworthy to be their honored guest.

Their stories brought me to my knees—unimaginable horrors and hardships, faith amid relentless trials, and hope in a savior who redeems lives. One pastor shared his testimony of hearing the audible voice of God telling him to go to church. He obeyed and later accepted the Lord as his Savior; now he’s leading conferences without pay for hundreds of Congolese youth.

Suddenly nothing else mattered but sharing this pastor’s story and the countless others from my treasure trove of interviews. It was no longer just facts about all that TLAfrica does as a non-profit, but cherished memories made encountering the ministry first-hand. The lives we impact became real and their stories impressionable.

At the end of our trip, we traveled five hours to the Gatsibo District in Eastern Rwanda to visit a Women’s Empowerment Project. This group of 26 single moms and mentors call themselves “Tomorrow is Good” and meet twice a week to make shoes and other goods to sell. More than just an income, the women pray, edify one another, and praise God for everything they have.

Standing in a barren church building looking at these inspiring women I panicked—did I bring enough gifts? Every bench in the concrete room was full. We passed out the toiletry bags and the ladies squealed with delight, then broke out in laughter as the translator explained where to put deodorant and why it might be needed. To my surprise, I had just enough bags to give one to each woman in the room!

I looked down at the eight additional soap kits I had—there wasn’t enough for everyone. Our translator asked the women to raise their hands if they had an infant at home. Eight hands bolted up and tears welled in my eyes. Only God could have orchestrated the exact number of items I brought from Texas. I didn’t know how many women to expect, but He did. God demonstrated his love for these women and included me—my life would never be the same. I left with a passion to join God in all that He is doing around the world.

One year later, I am honored to serve in this ministry as the U.S. TLAfrica Development Director—sharing with others about the lives God is transforming and inspiring people to support His work in Africa. Thank you for your prayers and partnership. What a difference you make around the world. Join us in Rwanda next year for a life-changing adventure of your own!

By |2018-12-14T14:52:48+00:00December 6th, 2018|Uncategorized|