It was indeed one of the most impressive celebrations in the Free Methodist Church worldwide. More than 10,000 Free Methodists gathered at the football (soccer) ground in the outskirts of Kibogora Township by Lake Kivu on Aug. 13 to proclaim 75 years of God’s goodness and blessings on the Free Methodist Church in Rwanda.
A grand parade led by a Free Methodist band began at 9 a.m. with school children, college students, choir members from different churches in colorful uniforms, pastors, lay leaders, superintendents and bishops joining the long procession that reflected Free Methodist joy and festivity. Among the Free Methodist bishops were Samuel Kayinamura, Hamlet Kabushenga, David Kendall and Joab Lohara. Anglican Archbishop Onesphere Rwaje also participated.
As the parade approached the football ground, thousands of people were seen standing in jubilation to welcome the parade with the drumbeats reaching the crescendo. People were everywhere: on the open ground, under the tents, and on the roads.
A number of tepee-style silver color tents were put up on three sides of the ground with the entrance area open to the general public. The tents directly facing the audience were for the guests and the guests of honor. Western Province Gov. Alphonse Munyentwari and all other government and church dignitaries were seated in this area. The tents to the left were for the clergy and lay leaders, and the tents on the right side accommodated choir groups from various churches.
There were two podiums set up on either side of the area designated for the dignitaries: one for announcements and the other for the leaders to address the gathering. The podiums were colorfully designed with the Free Methodist logo and jubilee symbol. Two other tents in the open area were taken by the media people and the band respectively.
When the choir started singing the first song, all the people settled down in their designated areas, and they joined the chorus.
Bishop David Kendall offered the opening prayer, followed by four different choirs leading the worship.
Bishop Samuel Kayinamura welcomed the audience and introduced the guests and the guests of honor. He also briefly outlined the mission of the Free Methodist Church in Rwanda that focuses on uplifting the poor and the disenfranchised.
The theme of the celebration was based on Acts 1:8. I ministered the Word of God on the occasion, challenging people to carry forward the legacy of the Free Methodist Church — the legacy of love, holiness and passion for the harvest. I called upon the church to turn Rwanda from being a country of a thousand hills to a country of a million Free Methodists.
In his address, Gov. Munyentwari admired the ministries of the Free Methodist Church in Rwanda for developing and strengthening the nation. He said the government of Rwanda would like to partner with the Free Methodist Church in its endeavor to improve the quality of life in Rwanda.
Among others who addressed the gathering were Archbishop Rwaje, Nyamasheke District Mayor Aime Fabien Kamari and All Africa Conference of Churches General Secretary Andre KarMage.
Uganda Bishop Hamlet Kabushenga blessed the offering received during the celebration.
More than 40 distinguished church leaders, pastors, missionaries and students from the United States and the United Kingdom converged at Kibogora to be a part of the celebration. Free Methodist choirs and a team of dancers enthralled the audience with their brilliant presentations through song and dance. It appeared as though these young friends were born to sing and their bodies moved naturally with the rhythm. The celebration ended with the prayer and benediction, which I gave.
Bishop Samuel Kayinamura and his leadership team deserve all our appreciation for the great dedication and commitment with which they have worked together day and night to organize this awesome event, commemorating God’s amazing faithfulness and bringing tremendous blessing to the people in Rwanda.
All glory be to the Lord!
Joab Lohara is a bishop of the Free Methodist Church in India and the president of the Free Methodist World Conference. Visit fmcusa.org/fmmissions/Rwanda to support Free Methodist ministries in Rwanda.