Emmanuel helped his mother to see past their poverty and believe in the love and hope that God brings.
Rwanda is a country of bitter spirits and hard hearts. With a history stained by war and famine, many Rwandans struggle to understand faith and grace. Evangelism in Rwanda can be a battle. And for Emmanuel, that battle began in his home.
A HARDENED HEART
A registered child at the KigemeStudent Center(RW-726), 11-year-old Emmanuel was excited about how God had worked in his life. He received Christ and eagerly shared his faith with his mother, Mukanukunsi. But his enthusiasm was met with cynicism.
Mukanukunsi's heart had been hardened. She had survived the 1994 genocide that claimed up to 1 million Rwandans, but every day she was met with reminders of that devastating time. The orphaned children whose parents had been brutally killed. The disfiguring scars of her neighbors. The nightmares.
And in this tiny refugee community, the poverty was smothering. Most families lived on U.S.30 cents a day. Their children were eaten away by malaria and intestinal worms. Where was this God that her son spoke of?
"& MAYBE GOD DOES EXIST."
Emmanuel wasn't ready to give up. He brought home a Bible and each morning he knelt to pray. When his surprised mother asked what he was doing, Emmanuel explained, "We have been taught how to pray and it's the only way that can change us, get rid of poverty, and restore our happiness."
Mukanukunsi scoffed, but she was curious. After all, this church, these Christians, had provided clothes, food and an education for her son. "It was at that time that I began to wonder," says Mukanukunsi. "I began to think that maybe God does exist. Why else would a sponsor who lives so far away think about caring for my son, for our family?"
Emmanuel never gave up. He prayed for his family every day and enlisted the help of his sponsor and the child development center staff. He prayed that God would show his family how much He cared for them.
HOPE IN TRAGEDY
God chose to answer those prayers in the midst of tragedy. In 2006, a severe drought struck Emmanuel's hometown of Kigeme. Hundreds fled the country, seeking relief. But Emmanuel begged his family not to leave. He told them that his student center was providing rations to families affected by the famine. At first, Mukanukunsi did not believe her son. But he dragged her to the center, where workers loaded her arms with bags of rice and bottles of water. Tears filled her eyes as she walked home. And her heart, hard for so long, finally softened.
"God is good," she says joyfully. "Who else could feed my family? My children were almost starving to death, but God saved us."
Mukanukunsi's journey has been long and difficult, but with her son's help and their faith in God, she has finally arrived at a destination full of hope.
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