Rwanda partnership leaders work to solidify relationship between communities

Women and children wait for services to begin at the Presbyterian Church of Kibungo. Their congregation recently entered into a church-to-church partnership with the First Presbyterian Church of Fulton.

Women and children wait for services to begin at the Presbyterian Church of Kibungo. Their congregation recently entered into a church-to-church partnership with the First Presbyterian Church of Fulton.

The First Presbyterian Church of Fulton and the Presbyterian Church of Kibungo have formally entered into a church-to-church partnership — the first of the Rwanda Community Partnership Project.

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Children gather outside the Presbyterian Church of Kibungo after service. Part of the partnership between their church and First Presbyterian Church of Fulton includes exchanging pictures and letters between the youths of the two congregations.

“We celebrated on the 29th of April — we had our Rwanda students come talk,” said RCPP founder Bob Hansen, who also is a member of First Presbyterian. “Our travel team this year will celebrate (the church partnership) in Rwanda on July 8th. They’re taking over photos, letters from the kids and videotaped greetings.”

Hansen said the partnership between the two churches includes “certainly praying for each other,” as well as sharing music, children’s artwork and “anything we can to create fellowship.” He said the Rwanda Community Partnership Project already is looking for another church interested in doing the same next year.

Hansen said another goal for the next year is to establish a similar school-to-school partnership between one of the local elementary schools and a school in Rwanda.

“We’re doing one high school partnership with Lutheran High School South in St. Louis with the Lutheran Secondary School of Rwanda that happened because one of our travel team members last year is a teacher there,” he said.

Hansen said one of the main focuses of the Rwanda Community Partnership Project — its microloan program — still is seeing success.

“All the microfinance projects we’ve started so far are doing exceptionally well,” he said. “We probably have 45 projects underway because of the initial investment in (the first) 15 projects.”

Hansen said the microloans continue to be important because they are sustainable.

“They bring real dollars into families that don’t have access to cash in any other way,” he said. “There’s a multiplier effect; one $250 gift can recycle 15, 18 times.”

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