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Chris & Fiona Tyrrell went to Rwanda in 2009 to teach English in a Bible college. However, during 2010 they caught a vision to reach out to Rwanda’s ‘Historically Marginalised People’. Here they share how a new methodology is helping to reach this people group and others across Rwanda.
A muddled mix
Our desire is to teach the marginalised people well, so that they’d know the truth of the gospel and be transformed. However, in Rwanda there are misunderstandings about the Bible and although people enjoy singing Christian songs introduced by earlier missionaries, what they actually believe is often muddled, a mix of truth and fable, and seldom has this belief led them out of darkness.
Bikorimanu Jeremie has shared the following testimony in English, a direct result of the literacy & language work carried out by Bridget Howard.
Iwas born in 1982 in the west of Rwanda. In 1992 I came to live in Kigali. I was a motorbike taximan. In 2009, on Tuesday, 7 October at 12:45 pm, I was driving my motorbike with a passenger. Suddenly a car came from the opposite direction and hit the motorbike. I fell down on the ground and landed on the rocks. My left leg was cut and broken in two places. However, my passenger was unhurt. Somebody took me to hospital where the doctor amputated my leg. When people heard the story of my accident they said it was the saddest story. This was a very bad accident but God helped me to trust more in him and today I am very happy. God has made me an evangelist. I am very excited about the power of God and I thank God for his mercy.
We heard of an approach known as Chronological Bible Storying (CBS). But surely stories are for children, we thought. On the other hand, nearly four billion of the world’s population are oral learners, preferring to learn through stories. Even if they can read and write, they find it difficult to internalise messages that don’t come through proverbs or prose. Maybe that partly explains why so often when a cross-cultural visitor presents a well-crafted sermon, many become distracted and weary, unable afterwards to recount the main points. Yet the moment the same speaker begins to tell a story, people tune in and are able to recall that story years later.
After learning more about this approach, the Rwandan team hesitantly accepted the recommendation to adopt CBS in their outreach to a marginalised rural community. The inclination to preach, to explain and to seek the congregation’s affirmation wasn’t always easy to overcome, but eventually the team took to CBS with enthusiasm. “The people are understanding, they are changing, and they’re telling us how different this is to any previous Christian learning method!”
Seeing God at work
We have seen the power of the gospel, and have taken part in helping others to hear and understand it too. How delightful it was to witness over seventy individuals confess their need of a saviour and call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Adopting this new methodology has been hard work and time consuming – preparing a story in English then getting it translated into Kinyarwanda – but we believe it has borne fruit, and we can see God generating through us a body of new believers, a people called by his name.