Trip to Rwanda and Madagascar – March 2018
On March 8th my wife and I made our way to Heathrow airport in London for the short hop over to Amsterdam. As is our custom, we stayed in the Ibis Hotel that night because it is quite inexpensive and has a good shuttle connection to the Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport. The next morning saw my wife boarding a train toward Germany to visit long-time friends and me boarding a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Kigali, Rwanda. Connie does not enjoy being alone while I’m away on these trips. About eight hours after the beginning of the flight the plane began descending to land at Kigali. The pilots noticed a fierce storm on the radar and aborted the landing and to proceeded on to Entebbe airport in Uganda. It was a strange feeling landing at Entebbe, knowing what had happened there years ago with the hijacking of an El Al airliner and the subsequent Israeli raid which freed most of the hostages. We were accommodated in hotels by the airline and able to proceed to Kigali the next day – the Sabbath. It was a very large ox in a very big ditch.
On Sunday I took my usual two-hour trip by moto-taxi/bus/moto-taxi, to a house on the outskirts of a small village in the verdant Rwandan hills where the members had gathered to greet me. I wish I could say I found them all in very good health, but most were recovering from another case of malaria. (No, malaria is not contagious — unless you are bitten by the same mosquito!) Despite their health challenges they were in good spirits and happy to see a minister. We talked of God’s way, I tried my best to answer their many questions and we enjoyed meals together. It is always wonderful to be with God’s people.
On Wednesday morning at 3:05 a.m. — yes, I said 3:05 A.M. — Kenya Airways “chauffeured” me up to Nairobi, Kenya and a few hours later down to Antananarivo, Madagascar. It was a very joyous reunion with the brethren there. After continuing counselling with Luva, the wife of one of our members there, I was able to baptize her on Friday morning. The congregation was so very pleased to hear about that on the Sabbath — though I suspect that the good news had already spread! I delivered the sermon in French and it was translated sentence by sentence into the Malagasy tongue. (I have had to realize after my ninth visit there, that I do not have a “Malagasy tongue”. And the brethren are very understanding of my somewhat basic French.) We all enjoyed a hearty meal together after Sabbath services.
On Sunday we gathered by a wooded lake where we played games together, laughed a lot and had a wonderful time. That evening, rather the next morning at 2:20 a.m., I boarded a flight for the 11-hour trip from Tana (Antananarivo) to Paris. Two hours after arrival in Paris I was in my connection back to London Heathrow.
Mr. Herbert Armstrong used to often speak and write of “a world held captive”. On these trips to Africa one is vividly confronted with that reality. Please do not misunderstand; that stark reality is seen in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Kigali… the list goes on – and covers the entire world.
But there is one thing that my trips to Africa underline in my mind each and every time: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ “(2 Corinthians 4:6). I see beautiful points of light that God has placed in many and varied areas of the world. Points of light meaning human beings who are following His way, putting forth effort to keep His law and assuming personal responsibility for their relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother. And amidst all of the darkness around us in this Satan-influenced world, these rays of light should give us all hope. They remind us of what we are doing and why we are here. God’s ultimate goal is to reconcile mankind to Himself, to bring us all into a loving relationship with Him. We are to show forth His praises to the world. “So we, your people and sheep of your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth Your praise to all generations” (Psalm 79:13). That is what I see, and it is very encouraging.
As Passover draws near, let us make sure that we work diligently so that we may, with God’s help, contribute to that “light shining out of darkness”.
German Feast Site 2018
We have had an overwhelming response to the Feast Site in Germany and are already full to capacity. If it did not work for you this year, there is always next year!