Outreach, Dedication of Children's Center Gives Hope to Rwandan Village
Linda Seals and Unhui Roedder of Global University were told to expect 600 children for their outreach in Nyakabuye, Rwanda, earlier in November. They were stunned to find a hillside full of children instead.
"I said to God, 'Father, you have to help us because we don't know what to do!'" Roedder said.
In 2013, both women had traveled to the same village while on assignment with Global University, the international distance-education ministry of the Assemblies of God. While there, they noticed that only a dozen or so children were attending the church services.
"Children need to be ministered to," Seals said. "People think that children can't have a spiritual encounter. That's simply not true."
"We both felt like something needed to be done for them," Roedder said.
On returning to the States, they decided to go back to Rwanda specifically for the children. Both spent the next year gathering homemade dolls, bracelets, toys, crafts and clothes to give away as gifts. Parkcrest Dental Group in Springfield, Missouri, even donated toothbrushes.
The return trip had a special meaning for Roedder. Her daughter, Mary, died suddenly of cancer just a few months before their first trip in 2013. The Roedder family decided to construct a building in Nyakabuye and dedicate it in her honor. They connected with missionaries Gary and Shirley Bohanon, who worked out the logistics of the building project and their return visit. Construction of the Mary Roedder Memorial Children's Center was finished in October 2014, so Seals and Roedder packed their 10 suitcases of gifts and flew to Rwanda for a week of teaching and to dedicate the building.
After the outreach, Seals and Roedder helped dedicate the building. Representatives from the Rwandan government were in attendance as well as members of the Rwandan Assemblies of God. Because of the new children's center, they were able to announce, electricity and a primary school would be coming to the community.
"This building changed the entire village," Seals said.
Roedder agreed. "Rwanda has hope."
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The turnout was enormous. Over 1,200 children ages 2 to 15 were waiting for them when they arrived in the village. They filled the building to capacity. Most had to sit outside. Later they discovered that the son of the local pastor had gone door to door throughout the area before their arrival to personally invite every child. For six days, children walked as far as three miles to come to the event.