Jay, a friend and the pastor of our sending church in Illinois, just left after a week long visit to Rwanda. We are so grateful for the time we had with him.
Jay has been coming to Rwanda for about 12 years now. He started coming in the early days of AMiA when the Rwandan Anglicans reached out to American churches in a time of need. He has continued to come, building and deepening relationship here, both personally, as well as through our sending church. Jay has been pressing in and he has been welcomed in, being made a canon (a person of leadership as well as counsel for the bishop) of the Shyira Diocese.
This trip, Canon Jay was invited to participate in a ordination retreat, a time of teaching and encouragement for those about to enter into full-time, ordained ministry. Jay presented on the topics of worship and clergy self-care, subjects near to his heart and interests, to the almost 50 men and women following God’s call to ministry. You can see his own reflection on the time here.
Jay also made a point to spend time with our family. To some this may sound intimidating: the sending church pastor come to check in on the far-flung missionaries. We have missionary friends here who would not enjoy the experience. On the other hand, we’ve known missionaries in Rwanda who never received a visit from their sending church. It really means so much to us to have Jay come visit. He encourages us, offers perspective on challenges, he gives pastoral counsel, and helps us feel connected to those he represents at “home”.
Jay has personally witnessed a lot of the development in Rwanda over the past years of visiting. We were able to check out two Kigali establishments, newly opened since his last visit. Jay and I had coffee at the big new Kigali Marriott in the city center. This will definitely be one of the premier places to stay in Rwanda. Then on his last day, Kari and I took him to the new Kigali Convention Center and Raddison Blu hotel complex. It was fun to explore some of the new sites in our city with Jay.
We felt really blessed to have this time with Jay. There was a lot of good conversation and catching up. Two things stand out for mention. First, I think Jay’s time teaching helped him see some of the challenges of cross-cultural Bible teaching and training. He may not feel it, but it means a lot to me that he can identify with my own work here by his experience.
Second, Jay spent time with our kids. Josiah and Norah know him as “Papa Jay” and obviously feel a sense of closeness to him. Having been a Third Culture Kid, Jay seems able to relate to them in a way that most of our friends and family at home won’t be able to. I think he takes that seriously, which means so much to us as parents. Jay wrote a little on the kids here.
Jay has recently celebrated his 10th Anniversary as the pastor at Church of the Redeemer and we have known him as our pastor for the last 8 years. We are thankful for his ministry to us and the time we had with him.