In 2004, the Gisenyi Church of the Nazarene began a compassionate ministry center, Ndengera (which is the Kinyarwanda imperative meaning “help me”) Foundation, to answer the cries for help from Gisenyi’s most vulnerable. Ndengera staff and volunteers engage new children by meeting their immediate needs—what Rev. Simon Pierre Rwaramba calls restoration.
Food is one of the most constant and critical of these needs.
“A child can’t go to school with an empty stomach,” Rev. Rwaramba said.
One way Ndengera addresses this need is through agricultural and animal-rearing programs. They employ community members to cultivate two hectares (five acres) of land with sweet potatoes and potatoes that volunteers distribute to children in the program and their families. They also provide animals, such as goats, chickens, and turkeys, which become stable sources of food.
At the same time, in Nkuri village, 28 kilometers from Gisenyi (Rwanda’s second largest town), a group of local church members are working together to provide jobs and food for their community.
They created an organization called NCM/Abadacogora – meaning “people who persevere.” Through this organization 300 people work in agriculture in Nkuri’s rolling mountains, providing a way for them to obtain food, shelter, and education for their families.
NCM/Abadacogora hired church members for fulltime work to cultivate tree saplings, farm potatoes, and organize the workload. The project’s farmers have been growing fruit trees – avocado, plum, papaya, and passion fruit- that they sell to the community at low prices as a way to promote food production in the area.
These signs of new life, beginning with a simple vision of providing food for those who need it most, have brought communities together to witness the love of the God of peace and reconciliation as demonstrated through churches that choose to live compassion as a lifestyle.
Adapted from a story that originally appeared in NCM Magazine (winter 2011).