Hundreds of bodies squeezed into the brick building, with hundreds more sitting outside. Hands were raised in worship. Months before, this church didn’t even exist.
On the day of the dedication, the people of Ishwa Island, Rwanda, pressed through the door of the church to hear the story of Jesus — many for the first time. They had no idea that this building, this community, was the result of a prayer that was prayed nearly 10 years earlier.
In 2007, the staff of Thomasville First United Methodist Church in Georgia got together and prayed, “Lord, how do we really honor You this Christmas?”
Chris Goff, director of outreach and discipleship for the church, had recently seen a World Help flier asking churches to help build a Home of Hope for orphans in Rwanda.
“We thought that maybe, if we challenged everyone in the church to spend just $50 less on themselves that Christmas, we could build one of those homes,” Chris said.
They decided as a church to step out in obedience and build a Home of Hope. Only they didn’t build just one; they built four. Later that year, a group from the church traveled with World Help to Rwanda to see firsthand the impact they were making. And a relationship was born.
Since 2007, Thomasville has sent a group to Rwanda every year and funded several other projects in the area. As more people from the congregation got involved, their obedience began to have an incredible effect on communities across Rwanda … and on the people of their church, as well.
“As a church, we actually find that we grow the most when we’re stepping out and doing some things that seem a little big for us,” Chris said. “I think it’s our calling! We can exist as a church just to be a church, or we can exist as a church that engages in the mission of God.”
Recently, the Thomasville staff heard about the need for a feeding program on Ishwa Island. The island’s remote location has resulted in extreme poverty, and there was no building large enough to house a food distribution program. Bishop Nathan Amooti suggested Thomasville sponsor a church building on the island.
The church would serve as a place where people could come receive food and hear about the Word of God. They would be fed both physically and spiritually!
Today, the church is feeding hundreds of kids and giving them a chance at a better future. But it also is a place where people can gather and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Through a simple act of obedience, the people of Thomasville First United Methodist Church are providing practical help and spiritual hope for countless individuals in Rwanda. And by giving toward a church building this Christmas, you can do the same! You can play an active role in a community’s development — changing people’s lives on all levels.
All it takes is one step of obedience.