KIGALI, RWANDA – When Jen Kamari, IT Canada’s former Director of Short Term Ministry, visited Rwanda in 2003, she had no idea she would end up moving there permanently just a few years later.
She says the change in her life’s direction was unexpected but welcome. “I had travelled a lot but Rwanda was the place where God said He’d change my life somehow. I had no idea I’d end up living here!”
After her initial visit to Kigali with an International Teams short-term team in 2003, Jen returned to Rwanda first for 2 weeks, then for 3 months, then for 8 months, and eventually moved there permanently in 2006. She and her husband Serge work together with a variety of ministries in support of the local church, including pastoral training, an initiative Jen feels has a great deal of potential.
“When I came to Rwanda, I met with many people and just asked questions and listened. I was looking for what church leaders valued and I wanted to know what they were dreaming about. Pastoral training was something that I gravitated towards as I knew that if pastors could be trained, it would have a direct impact on the members of their church as well.”
Jen says the most exciting part of the training they recently completed with pastors from an indigenous denomination has been seeing more Biblical marriages develop. “We’ve seen and heard incredible stories of how God has really moved in their hearts in how they treat their wives, which is great because for the most part husbands here are not encouraged to empower their wives and help develop them.”
Serge and Jen, along with others, have also begun a large development project that focuses on holistic transformation of one of the poorest communities in the Eastern province through the development of small gardens and a market gardening program. Jen says the community leaders have embraced them and are fighting for their people, most of whom live in banana leaf houses and earn less than $1 a day.
Jen views sharing the good news with these communities to be only one part of their ministry. “How can we only take the good news to people when there are some very basic and practical things that can radically change their lives? More food, cleaner water, better health, improved education … and the list goes on.”
Jen and Serge are excited to see how God is going to use them in the future. “We sometimes look at the big picture and feel overwhelmed, but God has opened doors and cared for us through difficult challenges. He’s moving us forward, and we’re constantly trying to ask Him what His next step is to impact their hearts & their lives.”