Over 14 years ago, the local churches of Rwanda partnered with Saddleback Church to begin a movement of ordinary church members transforming their communities. This April, Saddleback Church joined their Rwandan partners in commemorating Kwibuka 25, an annual event honoring the victims of the horrific Rwandan genocide 25 years ago. Together they thanked God for the change the nation has experienced through the PEACE Plan.
“The Lord was answering my prayer,” says Emmanuel Kolini, former Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda. “What the world knew about Rwanda was just killings. Now what they know about Rwanda is reconciliation. It’s back to life.”
Through the efforts of nearly 3,000 Saddleback members serving on short-term training trips, Saddleback has helped empower churches across Rwanda to achieve dreams for their communities. PEACE Teams help train ordinary church members various skills to improve their communities. The result has been a movement of unified churches creating sustainable change in the areas of poverty, healthcare, education, and orphaned children, to name a few. Check out this video of Rwandan pastors describing the impact in their own words.
PD Africa Continental Director, Eric Munyemana, witnessed the inception of the PEACE Plan partnership in Rwanda firsthand. As he explains, “These were just members coming and doing mission at a personal level. Seeing them in our communities thriving and submitting to local leadership in Rwanda, that’s unusual. So that spirit, that level of humility, was easy to transfer to us and feel we could do this.”
The transformation attracted the attention of neighboring African nations. Soon thereafter, leaders and pastors from all over the continent began asking how they could replicate the results in their own countries.
“The PEACE Plan started in Rwanda, was birthed in Rwanda, and it’s now all over the world,” said Pastor Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church.
Now, through the All-Africa Initiative, the seed that was first planted in Rwanda has blossomed into a worldwide movement. International Partner Churches trained in Purpose Driven and the PEACE Plan have begun bringing healthy church training to networks of churches across nearly all of sub-Saharan Africa. Churches from different parts of the globe are coming together, exchanging learnings, and committing to transform their countries for the glory of God.
This month also marked an important milestone for the Rwandan Church, as together, they have committed to take on the task of coming alongside and training the local churches of South Sudan.
“Seven other African presidents have called me and said, ‘When can we get what’s going on in Rwanda?” said Pastor Rick. “I said, ‘We’re one church, we can’t go everywhere, but I can send the Rwandans.’ And that’s what’s been happening.”
In response to the call of eager pastors, Latin America is becoming the next continent to experience this movement of member-led transformation. God has put it on the heart of Saddleback to adopt Costa Rica as their next nationwide model, one which will become the example and training hub for churches across all of Latin America.
None of this would be possible without ordinary members of ordinary local churches stepping out in faith, living out the unique ways they were shaped by God to make a difference in the world. The united global Church is becoming a vehicle for community transformation.
To learn more about how your church help create community transformation, visit pd.church/start.