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Monday, March 31, 2008

Megachurch Pastor Rick Warren Visits Rwanda
Almost 20,000 Gather in Rwandan Stadium to Kick Off National 40 Days of Purpose Campaign

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

KIGALI, RWANDA (ANS) -- Saddleback Valley Community Church Pastor Rick Warren’s visit to Rwanda has kicked off with an event representing a celebration of the first three years of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan in the country.

According to a news release, the event also initiated the first national 40 Days of Purpose campaign at the invitation of His Excellency President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

It was held at Amohoro (translated “Peace”) Stadium.

The P.E.A.C.E. plan is an attempt to mobilize 1 billion Christians to attack the five global giants of our day – spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education. “P” stands for promote reconciliation; “E” for equip servant leaders; “A” for assist the poor; “C” for care for the sick and the second “E” for educate the next generation.

“This week we are launching a Biblical way of living in Rwanda – we call it, ‘The Purpose Driven Life,’” a news release stated Warren said to nearly 20,000 people gathered in the hot African sun.

He added, “What matters in life is your relationship to God and His purpose for you. The first 500 churches will start this weekend. When they finish, they will train others – your church – and then your church will help even more churches.”

According to the news release, the attendees came from across Rwanda, and included a delegation of approximately 100 from Saddleback Church. Most of the Saddleback participants were volunteers paying their own travel and expenses to come and participate in the P.E.A.C.E. team initiative.

The program, highlighted by the appearance and comments of Kagame, included a graduation ceremony for the first class of 200 Rwandan pastors who have completed a three-year Purpose Driven and P.E.A.C.E. training program.

“I want to say to Rick and Kay Warren that they could not find a better place than Rwanda for the Purpose Driven campaign, for good and bad reasons,” Kagame said in a news release. “The bad reasons are related to our history – in our past we have lived a life without purpose. The good reasons are related to our future – that we have a chance with the Purpose Driven Life.”

Kagame continued, “What is unique about this initiative is that the P.E.A.C.E. plan combines the talent and energy from three sectors of society – public, private and faith ... This model can be replicated in other parts of our country. More importantly, more Rwandans of faith need to adopt this mindset.”

In the first phase of the program, which began in 2004, Saddleback Church sent more than 7,700 of its church members in small teams to 68 countries, of which nearly 1,000 have been working in Rwanda.

Warren met with a delegation of 16 national U.S. media representatives who traveled to Rwanda to cover P.E.A.C.E. plan progress-to-date.

A news release stated Warren said during the briefing, “We didn't choose Rwanda; they invited us. Our goal is not to change Rwanda, but to serve this country. The P.E.A.C.E. Plan is built on the Biblical foundation that faith without works is dead, and we overcome evil with good.”

Addressing a prayer breakfast for local business and government leadership, Warren and his wife Kay discussed four building blocks necessary for successful relationships – unselfishness, humility, love and forgiveness. While they spoke about their own marriage, many of the principles translated to other relationships – such as family, friendships and even church and business.

“No nation is stronger than its families – to build a strong church, community or nation, you need strong families,” the news release stated Warren said. He noted that the message of forgiveness is particularly poignant in a country dealing with the difficulty of reconciliation since the 1994 genocide that killed nearly 1 million Rwandans.

During the week, the Warrens and their team will visit Kibuye, site of the Western Province HIV/AIDS Healthcare Initiative Project, and have a number of meetings with government, business and church leaders.

In addition, Kay Warren will lead a team to Butare to visit with academic leaders in the community, exploring opportunities to address the need for educational components in the implementation of the P.E.A.C.E. plan.


Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org or http://www.christianity.com/joyjunction. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City: A Call to Service." Additional details about "Homeless" are available at http://www.HomelessBook.com He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@comcast.net. Tel: (505) 877-6967 or (505) 400-7145. Note: A higher resolution JPEG picture of Jeremy Reynalds is available on request from Dan Wooding at danjuma1@aol.com.

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