May 2013

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Last week, we introduced our partner ministry in Rwanda, Hope For Life, and one of its co-founders, Hilliary Anderson. Read that post here. This week, we’ll look deeper into the radical transforming work God is doing in the boys’ home.

Every day in Kigali, 24 boys and their caregivers gather together to read devotions and pray. It sounds simple enough, but each of these boys was formerly living on the streets of Kigali. “It’s been amazing to see them transform from rebellious, rough street kids to be on fire for the Lord,” remarked Hilliary Anderson, the co-founder of Hope For Life. Even more amazing are the Saturday devotions, which are led by boys themselves. “It’s really cool to hear from them what God is doing in their lives,” said Hilliary.

The spiritual transformation of the boys living at HFL is only the beginning of the radical changes taking place. Since taking in 12 street youth in 2008, HFL has grown to house 24 boys and has reintegrated 12 boys back into their homes and families. After reintegration, HFL continues to support them, growing their number of beneficiaries to an astounding 96 people. The breadth of HFL’s ministry is a result of its commitment to creating a holistic program that addresses the root of the problem, why kids go to the street. It was this commitment that directed the ministry’s focus to be the families as well as the boys. HFL has also launched a local street kids program that allows homeless youth a chance to relax, wash their clothes, receive a warm meal, take English lessons, participate in devotions, and be counseled by the HFL staff.

With 24 energetic boys running around, it takes a full team to care for them. HFL has been blessed to see God working to transform the staff almost as much as the boys themselves. “We’ve been investing into our staff spiritually, through devotions and Bible training, so they can help disciple the boys,” explained Hilliary. She has been helping the staff come together despite their differences. “I want them to focus on bringing unity to the tribal tensions they hold. Sometimes they dislike or distrust each other because of the tribe they are from, and we want them to put their identity in Christ, not tribal identity, so Christ can transcend every area of life.” 

What’s next for this incredibly blessed ministry? With God’s direction and guidance, Hilliary hopes someday to replicate what they are doing elsewhere, once they have the financial means and feel a call to a second location. In the meantime, God’s blessing and guidance is evident in the way their ministry is flourishing. Pray that God’s transforming grace will continue to work in the hearts of the boys and staff at Hope For Life.

To learn more about Hope for Life ministry, visit their website here. To donate funds to further the way HFL has been a blessing to street youth and Rwandan families click here.

In 2008, Hilliary Anderson and Megan Swanson were in Rwanda, completing an internship at a church in Kigali with Breakthrough Partners. One day when they were walking home, a five-year-old malnourished street boy came up to them. Hilliary and Megan gave him a loaf of bread, and were soon swarmed with hungry street boys who eagerly shared in the meager loaf. Amazed at the reality in front of them, the two college students supplied the boys with food, clothes, soccer balls, and spent hours with them for the remainder of their time in Rwanda. As they neared the end of their trip, Megan and Hilliary were able to procure financial sponsors for the boys, and found a woman from the local church who promised to watch over them. 

One month after their return to the United States, Megan and Hilliary were distressed to hear that the eleven boys had been arrested simply for being on the streets, and wouldn’t be released until they had a home to move to. Knowing that God was asking them to faithfully make a place for the street boys, Megan, Hilliary and Chantal, a Rwandan woman, set about raising funds and making preparations. In March of 2009, Hope for Life opened in a home with a full time caregiver for 12 boys. Since then, the ministry has continued to thrive and grow. Twenty-four boys are living in the home, and 12 boys have been reconciled to and reintegrated into their families, while continuing to receive support from HFL. Because HFL is dedicated to treating the root causes of poverty, not merely the symptoms, often the boys’ families receive sponsorship in the form of school fees, land purchases, skills trainings, and more.

Hilliary, now the Executive Director of Hope for Life, continues to raise funds in the US for the ministry, while Rwandan staff runs much of the daily operations in Kigali. HFL’s goal is to see these former street children who have been abused and neglected, be reconciled with their families and reintegrated into society, being equipped with the skills to lead a successful life and the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. A visionary, Hilliary has great plans for investing in the boys’ futures. In particular, she would love to see the boys’ education broaden to include vocational training beyond schooling, in order to prepare them for stable careers.

While most businessmen pursue success and upward mobility, Hilliary seeks the opposite. One day, she would love to transfer the position of Executive Director to a Rwandan staff member in order to fully give the work of Rwanda back to the people of Rwanda.

 

To learn more about Hope for Life ministry, visit their website here. To donate funds to further the way HFL has been a blessing to street youth and Rwandan families click here.

After attending the 2013 Breakthrough Partners Network Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Christophe Mbonyingabo shares his reflections on the experience. Christophe left the conference with the goal of uniting individuals together through building trusting relationships to create sustainable, lasting partnerships. Additionally, Christophe now plans to mobilize resources to initiate change from the inside, using what God has blessed their community with, rather than relying on external sources of change.

See his response here: