In 2007 we were working with the Ministry of Family and Gender in Rwanda as we sought to adopt our little Gabby. She was one of the first kids adopted after the 1994 genocide burning Rwanda down to the ground.
We were also in the middle of creating the Teen Resort out in Southwest Colorado, and were trying to think of a name to identify what we wanted to do out here. As we sat on the banks of Lake KIVU in Rwanda (the 6th largest lake in Africa) we thought, "Let's call it KIVU." KIVU literally can be translated to "BIG" and since our ideas were Bigger than Big, the name seemed to fit.
Well, after 4 years of building, this past Saturday, we welcomed home 15 students from our Rwanda exploration trip. Their mission, To Love God and Love People while working to develop relationships with ministries in the area who welcomed the help from teenagers.
The stories would take your breath away.
The KIVU American kids had a chance to work in an orphanage, teach in the school systems, and live a life much like our African friends live. We know short term trips have little to do with solving any major issues, but they give teenagers a worldview perspective to help them frame the whole of humanity outside the normal boundary lines their used to.
They made friends.
They built bridges.
They experienced a life drastically different from the life here in the west.
And to my excitement, they began to develop hope in Africa.
Those of us in ministry know full well the ills of sending "rich Americans" to poor places around the world. Exploitation, Ignorance, and Nominalization of humanity is alive and well in the NGO/Christian Mission community. But the hope students had to see the world became all too relevant to their worldview process. The beauty of sharing life 'with' someone else who doesn't look like you, talk like you, eat like you, or live in any way shape or form like you live is a valuable lesson from both sides.
The American KIVU kids learned the time honored sense of family, community, and life unhindered by the traps of living in the west. The Rwandans learned how a group of American teenagers would give up their valuable asset, mainly time and money, to come and explore the needs of the rest of the world.
As African Fatigue Syndrome continues to build in the west, I find it incredibly valuable to provide opportunities where people can see real people. They can experience real life. There's no objectification, but simply Love being transferred from the Americans to the Rwandans and vice versa.
I'm so proud of both groups.
I'm proud of the kids who were willing to go.
I'm proud of the kids who live in Rwanda who were willing to share.
I'm proud of the staff who were facilitating this cross cultural share of life.
I'm so excited to see the worldivew of both groups developing to a place where they are willing to share life, even if it is thousands of miles away.
Another dream realized!
To God be the Glory.