What comes to your mind when the African country of Rwanda is mentioned? Genocide.
In 1994, extremists from Rwanda’s majority Hutu tribe slaughtered more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and other rivals in just 100 days. The violence left many women without husbands, money, or support. To survive and provide for their children, many turned to prostitution and endured the powerlessness it inflicts.
The plight of women trapped by prostitution touched the heart of Bishop Theophile Rugubira. He yearned to see these desperate souls receive a new identity in Christ, so in 1998 he founded a ministry called African Hope Initiative. Bishop Theo provided micro-loans and business training to give them a dignified way to make a living, empowering them to contribute to society and overcome their poverty. He discipled them in Jesus. An after school program was even established for their children. As a result, sorrow turned to joy and mourning into a time of celebration.
Today, these women are struggling to survive a new challenge. COVID-19 brought isolation, the closing of small businesses, and put an end to their means of livelihood. They and their children now face the slow death of starvation.
Desperate people clambered to local churches seeking food, but relief supplies quickly ran out. Bishop Theo and his staff sacrificially gave and prayed, but soon they had nothing left. Theo encouraged his workers, “We are our brothers’ keeper. God will provide. We can’t give up fighting. Even one spoonful is valuable and can save the life of a child who is crying for help.”
Having given everything they had, they felt like the widow of Zarephath, who told Elijah she was using her last handful of flour and a bit of oil to make a cake for herself and her son. Then they were prepared to die. Bishop Theo, however, was not ready to see these former prostitutes die before his own eyes. He was convinced that their almighty Father, who had adopted them into His family, would somehow take care of His children.
Then it happened.
Thanks to generous donors from the ANM community, funds reached Bishop Theo before it was too late. There was much rejoicing when the help arrived. He fell to his knees in gratitude. “How thankful we are to be able to put a little into the hands of 48 families! You have shared our burden, and together, we extended the lives of these women and their children for a little while longer.”
The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact lives in the world’s most impoverished communities. You can help by giving a COVID Relief Package here.