From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Rwandan United Methodists aim at reconciliation
Fri, 15 Jun 2001 16:10:10 -0500
June 15, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York, NY
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Compared to the horror of the 1994 massacres, life in
Rwanda is quiet today, says a United Methodist pastor.
Reconciliation efforts between the Hutus and Tutsis are a prime concern of
the church there, according to the Rev. Kaberuka Jupa, superintendent of the
Rwanda District, a part of the United Methodist East Africa Annual
Conference. He spoke about the Rwandan church during a June 14 discussion at
the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Any tensions these days are political, manufactured by those who want "to
maintain their seats or their presence in the government," he said. Poverty
makes young people, in particular, susceptible to others who use them to
stir up trouble, he added.
But the Rwandan government is trying to help youth and to assist the church
in its own efforts, Jupa said. The government has given unoccupied buildings
to the church for renovation into schools. So far, the church has opened
three schools and two health clinics.
Born in the refugee camps in Zaire - where people had fled following the
genocide in which 800,000 died - the United Methodist Church survived the
transplant back to Rwanda and has officially recorded 48,000 members.
Located in three different regions, the church has 32 full-time pastors, 10
probationary pastors and 66 local pastors.
Jupa said they are being asked by local authorities to open more schools,
but he explained that the resources currently do not exist to allow
additional projects. The various places of worship also serve as centers
where people can learn to read and write.
The situation of street children and orphans remains a concern in Rwanda.
While the government has encouraged people to take such children into their
homes, Jupa explained, it couldn't offer financial assistance as an
incentive. The government does provide for scholarships and other needs for
students enrolled in school, he added.
The pastor stressed the importance of letting young people know the history
of Rwanda's conflict and allowing adults to come together in reconciliation.
Part of the job of the church, he said, is "to help these people to treat
the wounds in their hearts."
The Board of Global Ministries is in the final stages of completing a
comprehensive mission plan for the East Africa Annual Conference, which also
includes Burundi, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. The Rev. Clyde Anderson, a board
executive, said its work with Rwanda would continue under that plan.
# # #
United Methodist News Service
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