A crowd estimated at 1500 gathered at the market center, several hundred standing on the peripheries and by the shops. As the choirs from neighborhood churches sang and danced, the curious crowd kept growing. The Anglican Church youth choir sang beautifully.
Then it was our SHINE team's turn. With the team divided into 3 and two groups send to two other zones around the city(one with Pastor Dave Sorn from Renovation Church and the other with Shug Bury, SHINE's Prison Evangelist, about 8 of us had remained at this bus park open air preaching station.
The local pastors were concerned to get the preacher out as quickly as possible before the audience lost interest or got distracted by buses zooming past. Emmanuel from AEE Rwanda, our main partner organization, was invited up. He in turn invited me up. What beautiful faces to behold and what a beautiful geographical backdrop of scenic rolling hills. Rwandese are a beautiful people.
I told the crowd as much. That I come from a place that is very cold but with people with very warm hearts called Minnesota. On the other hand, Rwanda has lovely climate, beautiful rolling hills, and with people with very warm hearts and beautiful faces. I told them they got the better end of the deal from God. They all clapped and laughed in excitement. I introduced one of our team members, Rachel Cheney from Renovation Church, Blaine, MN to share her five minute faith Story. What a firebrand! Thank you Rachel for hitting it out of the park tonight!
Wanting to keep the audience attentive and interested in the message, I chose on the spot to preach from a dramatic passage of Scripture: John 8:1-10, the story of the woman caught in adultery. And attentive they were! I set it up against the backdrop of the Jerusalem temple, the Mount of Olives, the dividing Kiddron Valley, and the curious crowds of 1st century Jewry milling around Jesus. Eerily similar to the set up here in Muhanga!
And so I took them on a visual journey as I brought up different characters along the way. The lawyers, the woman, Jesus, the crowds, etc! It all build up to the climax of the story...Jesus standing there alone with the adulterous woman still prostrate and trembling before Him because He was the only one qualified to stone her to death.
But what mercy! What grace! What amazing love! "I do not condemn you either! Go and sin no more," says Jesus! The Muhanga crowd erupted in thunderous applause! The suspense is diffused by God's enduring grace.
Moments later, I tell them that they are the woman. But they are also the lawyers and the Pharisees and Sadducees. They are guilty of sin. Yet Jesus does not condemn them. Instead, He is extending mercy and grace to as many as believe. When I ask for those who would want such love and forgiveness, hands go up from all over the place. And so I invite them to pray with me. I invite them to come to Jesus. To prostrate before Him as the only one qualified to judge them yet He has chosen to dispense of mercy and not judgment.
To the glory and praise of His Name, they gladly pray to embrace Jesus. Children, young men and women, and the elderly! And that is not all because we had five total sites where our teams were ministering this evening. Including Pastor David's site where majority of those giving their lives to Christ were men, from Shug's site and from the rest of the team including in Churches earlier today, a total of 434 people have given their lives to Jesus just today. How magnificent that God is changing lives through SHINE's partnership with the churches in this community!
Lord you are doing it again in our day. Even here in Muhanga you are doing a new thing and I thank you! Amen!