I visited the African nation of Rwanda specifically to connect with Pastor Paul Gitwaza, an old friend who is one of the most influential Christian leaders in the country. He has a major church in Kigali with branches all around the country and literally around the world – including other African nations, Europe, Canada, and the US.
When he invited me to preach in his midweek service, I immediately felt impressed to share about David and Goliath – joking that his high pulpit, built specifically to accommodate his extra-tall stature – made me feel like tiny David. Pastor Paul later shared with me that the message was especially appropriate for his people who – even though most of them are characteristically tall – feel spiritually small. The service was broadcast on television and radio, causing the message to reach far beyond the walls of the church building. In fact, I got an email the very next morning from a pastor in Kenya who saw it. He must have googled me to get my email address in order to follow up on the ministry of the night.
When I met with Pastor Paul the following day, I discovered that our time together was actually prophetic. Last year, he inaugurated a Christian university with a number of departments, including theology. The classes meet at five different locations around the country and have attracted over one hundred students in the first year. All the classes are taught in English with French as a second language. But the school was facing a major challenge in that – just four days earlier – the country had enacted a law requiring all ministers in the country to have a Bible degree or stop preaching. The school, of course, wishes t
o gear up to accommodate a massive influx of students who need to enroll in Bible school – and he was asking for my help. I suggested that I might be able to negotiate an agreement with Charis Bible College for them to open an extension school within their program to give the students their first two years and then let the regular university provide the rest of the studies in order for them to offer a bachelor’s degree. If this could happen, that would give the school a two-year buffer zone to prepare for the part of the program that they will have to teach. To me, it seems like an ideal solution – especially with the use of video instruction that can be distributed through the five teaching locations. Additionally, we discussed for me to come to Rwanda on a regular basis to in the school.
The incident was almost like a deja vu experience of the time that I arrived in Nigeria on the very day that the Nigerian Department of Education shut down almost forty Bible colleges because they were not properly aligned with recognized educational institutions. Fortunately, they could not touch the school where I was ministering because I had all the proper documents in hand to establish an affiliation between the Nigerian Bible college and the college in America where I served as dean at the time.