From time to time, God blesses us in our faith journey with a story that inspires and encourages. Sometimes they are just stories in a magazine or off the internet…but every so often you get to meet one face to face. This is the story of Jean and Bellincire (Rwandan refugees) and their children Peace, Dorcas, Emmanuel, Stella, Hope, and Bonielle. We got to know Peace at a Vacation Bible School that LifeBridge did at the Los Arcos apartments this summer, then ran into them again when Randy and Jamie Pike got involved in Life Cycles, a non-profit ministry that gives away refurbished bikes to refugees trying to build a life here in America. Little did we know the extent of their family story. Read below the e-mail that was shared with me about their family.
The Africans’ story is remarkable. Their father is a Christian preacher. While in Rwanda, a group of the militia came to their home and roughed up the family and killed Emmanuel’s maternal grandparents, then took his father from the home. They took him and buried him to his neck & told him they were going to machette his head from his shoulders. All the while Jean kept preaching to them and telling them he forgave them already for what they were about to do. And that God loved them and would forgive them. One of the men said “fine if your God is so great, when we return from the bar he will have delivered you from your grave.” What they did not know was that there was a saint from Jean’s church who had seen it all and was hiding nearby. As soon as the coast was clear he sprang into action digging Jean out quickly before the men returned. Upon arriving back at his home & seeing the carnage he packed up his family and escaped to a refugee camp near the border. He still pastors today. He and another man copastor an african church not far from here. The mother, Bellincire, has not fully recovered from the trauma but, how could you really? Their childrens’ names are Peace, Dorcas, Emmanuel, Stella, Hope, Bonielle. I often joke with them about “where is Love?”. They are the sweetest, kindest people you will meet. Peace and Emmanuel speak 7 languages including Somali, Arabic, English, Rwandan, Swahili & 2 others.
What a tragic, yet inspiring story of God at work in the midst of all the carnage that Satan tries to bring. One of the things that I cherish about this LifeBridge adventure is that for the first time in my life I find myself regularly around stories like these. For years, my Christian reality was shaped largely by programs, church services, and the more traditional American Christian experience. Now, I am regularly around people and situations where I see the hand of God at work in a visible and astounding way. Not surprisingly, the most profound lessons of faith are often found in the midst of some of the most difficult situations.
Which is why, as we minister in a relatively affluent area of suburban America, I am becoming increasingly convinced that it is vital to our faith to be around some of the harder things of life and faith. God shows up at the Montrose Street Reach, in the refugee apartment complex, and in the overseas mission field, in ways that we typically don’t encounter in our comfortable church settings. While we have a lot to offer a hurting world, we often find that they have even more to offer us.
Thank you God for these amazing stories of faith that you put into our lives to inspire and encourage us.