BSU Director recalls Rwanda
The scars from a large-scale civil war some three decades ago that claimed thousands of lives among Hutu and Tutsi peoples in Rwanda continue to make missionary work, and winning the trust of those you want to help a challenge in the country, Co-Lin Baptist Student Union (BSU) Director Jed Moak told Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) members at their monthly luncheon.
Moak and his wife Heather worked with prostitutes in Rwanda through the Hagari mission before he returned to his alma mater and the student ministry at BSU. Over two years, they led Bible studies for the organization.
At the ILR luncheon, Moak talked about their service in Rwanda and life in the country, which borders Kenya and Uganda to the south in East Africa.
“Hagari walks alongside families in extreme poverty – especially those vulnerable to survival sex work – by focusing on education, health, discipleship and financial empowerment to disrupt the cycle of poverty,” Moak said. He highlighted Hagari’s Student Partnership project – a part of its empowerment ministry -- through which donors can invest in sponsoring Rwanda students, who have to pay to go to school. A $75 per month partnership provides school fees, materials, uniforms, meals on school days and health insurance for students and their families.
Moak described Rwanda as a landlocked country of hills and valleys – sometimes called “land of a thousand hills” -- with a trade-based economy in which lack of transportation retards commerce and fosters poverty. It is one quarter the size of Mississippi with twice the population, which is mostly situated in Kigali, the capital city. On the equator, it is a warm country with temperature extremes from lows in the 70s to highs in the 90s, where mosquitos and malaria are problems. A culture of prostitution has flourished there in the midst of the poverty with young women orphaned by the civil war.
“Our ministry was about rescuing, redeeming, educating and empowering – helping families in this poverty culture get out of the lives in which they are entrapped, demonstrating to them that another life was possible, teaching them how to live anew with the help of Christ and supporting them as they built new lives.”
Moak is now in his second year directing the ministry at Co-Lin’s Baptist Student Union, which provides a hangout venue for students, counseling, Bible studies and worship experiences, including a Monday evening service at 6:30 p.m. and chapel on Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m.