One of the greatest joys of my life is serving alongside sisters and brothers who are faithfully flourishing where God has planted them—despite the obstacles. Before coming to Hope Haven more than five years ago, I was honored to work on ministry projects in 49 countries around the world. Many of these countries are very difficult places to live as a follower of Jesus.
Even though we shudder to think about this reality, I’ve personally met with people who have been shot, stabbed, raped, ejected from their community, abandoned and a host of other traumatic situations because of their faith in Christ. Most of us, including me, cannot even imagine life as a Christian in that type of context.
However, showcased in the middle of unimaginable heartache, is this remarkable principle: Living with authentic faith provides unexplainable peace, hope and joy—even during times of trauma.
I especially love hearing stories of pastors who boldly answer God’s call on their lives. It is astonishing to listen to stories of God at work in their ministries despite incredible opposition! Sometimes, the opposition is from a government. Other times it is generated by terrorists or militants. Sometimes it’s simply neighbors who are unhappy about the disruption of what they believe should be “normal.” And, as I have often seen in Rwanda, the struggle to faithfully minster comes from a severe lack of resources.
One of my dear friends in Rwanda, Laurent, has experienced this ministry struggle in a vulnerable community firsthand. He has lived in challenging circumstances, sometimes wondering where the next meal for his family would come from. He has asked, as many others have, “God, are you sure you called me to serve you as a pastor?” Authentic ministry is tough anywhere in the world but Pastor Laurent must overcome obstacles most US pastors have never faced.
In spite of it all, Pastor Laurent clings to the calling he received, embracing the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:17: “Each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.”
The last time we met and prayed together, Laurent shared how Hope Haven has been an inspiration to him. I couldn’t help but reflect the blessing back to him! Pastor Laurent has shared inspirational messages our with students and team on several occasions. I’ll never forget the first time our family heard him preach at Hope Haven Rwanda! And he has invited me to share in his church. Each Sunday is a highlight of the week for this sweet community!
Today, because of the premier education she has received at Hope Haven, Laurent’s daughter is one of Rwanda’s star students! Alice received a “perfect score” (You can read her story here) on standardized national examinations and is a lovely young woman.
I am so grateful to know that amazing people like Pastor Laurent are praying for us, standing with us and partnering with us as we develop world-class Christian leaders!
Will you join me in praying today for those who are facing opposition because of their faith around the world? May we all be inspired by their examples of taking bold steps of faith!