Debby Thomas, Missionary,
Summary: This article presents a portrayal of discipleship within the Rwandan cultural in
Describing the challenges
Presently, discipleship is weak in my church in
Consequently, members attend church, many are involved in a choir, and some become leaders. Also, Bible studies and all night prayer meetings are very common. Yet, there is usually a need to have an apt leader for these events who really knows the Bible, and is recognized as a leader in the church. Equipped leaders are hard to come by and we always have a leadership shortage in our churches.
Acknowledging our challenges, we have tried forms of discipleship that are used in the
Another challenge is that in this culture the form of learning at school is very much by rote, reflecting how and or putting into practice the materials studied is not encouraged. Therefore, most adults here in
Therefore, classroom learning is seen as an exercise in memorization, not something that can be put to use. We have had many seminars for pastors and Christians that are extensive with useful, helpful information, but they go back to their churches and do not apply any of it. Any form of discipleship that is to be put into effect will have to implement a direct link between learning and doing.
Responses to challenges
Despite the many challenges to discipleship in
Believers who are taught to study the word together with those in their neighborhood (versus only hearing it from pastors), who reach out to non-Christians and those in need around them, who are actively involved as a Christian in the goings on of the neighborhood are more likely to show the marks of a true disciple.
What we are presently doing with our church leaders education is relating the classroom work fervently to their work in the church. They study for two weeks in the classroom and are given assignments to practice what they have learned in the church environment. They are then evaluated by the pastors on the level of success of putting the information into practice. I do not consider that we need to completely abandon classroom methods in
Cultivating discipleship in Rwanda
As disciple makers and disciples it will be most effective to be out with and among the people recognizing that our biggest impact in their lives will be through having real life experiences together. Walking through everyday occurrences with our disciples will give them a concrete example of how the Christian life is lived out. It is also a very natural way for Rwandans to disciple other Rwandans in their cultural context.
I am convinced that we will not see a healthy, growing, church that is reaching out to the lost until we are able to disciple on a deeper level. Real life transformation that takes place in the discipleship process is essential before Christians are able to truly become a new creation and lead others towards God. I believe that by bearing in mind the responses and principles put forth, we will be preparing the soil for cultivation and making way for the Holy Spirit to work freely in the lives of our Rwandan believers and church members.