At the beginning of the month, PFR was delighted to welcome back its Executive Director, Pastor Deo, from a summer trip to Canada and the USA, where he has been sharing the message of reconciliation and building support for the work of PFR.
Back in June, Pastor Deo set out to Canada, for the Prison Fellowship International Convocation. The convocation is a large international conference occurring every four years, bringing together representatives of Prison Fellowship ministries from around the world. This year, the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto hosted this special Jubilee convocation from 28th June to 2nd July, the themes of which were hope, forgiveness, restoration and freedom. The participants had the opportunity to hear from speakers including judges, former prisoners, politicians and prison officials; to share stories of God’s transforming power and reconciling love; and also to learn best practice and leadership skills in workshops and classes. More than 1000 people were in attendance, representing 119 countries from around the world.
Bishop John Rucyahana, Chairman of the Board of Prison Fellowship Rwanda, was one of the guest speakers, focusing on hope and forgiveness. He spoke about good practice in Rwanda in the fields of restorative justice and reconciliation, and also talked about the positive development of Rwanda post-genocide, including government action and initiatives. He described how the country was destroyed by the genocide, with no hope left; but by the grace of God Rwanda is being rebuilt, including the building of reconciliation between killers and their surviving victims, and looks to a future of peace in which the people can thrive.
Bishop John’s speech was well received across the board, with a huge round of applause and a standing ovation. After the speech, Pastor Deo was approached by the Prison Fellowship representatives from Italy who wanted to learn from Rwanda’s best practice restorative justice approach and apply it at home. Other countries expressed an interest in learning more about Rwanda’s reconciliation villages. Exciting stuff! What a blessing and a joy to be able to spread the word about the amazing story of reconciliation in Rwanda and to enable others to discover how PFR’s approach could be applied throughout the world.
After the conference, Pastor Deo spent ten more days in Canada during which time he visited three churches and spoke to their staff and congregations about the work of PFR including reconciliation, and the women’s co-operative and the AAC children’s project. The response was great: he raised $400 from the sale of goods made by the women’s co-operative, and his Canadian host Margaret Fisher and her friends raised approximately $1,300 to contribute towards food for the children and to the reconciliation villages.
Upon conclusion of his time in Canada, Pastor Deo ventured across the border to Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the USA. During that time he visited All Saints Church in Baltimore and met a gentleman associated with Mustard Seed International who wants to buy a cow for children living in prison.
Pastor Deo had a wonderful trip and he would like to thank all the people who made that possible, including those he met and prayed with along the way. He prays for their continuous support in helping to rebuild Rwanda, and asks them to pray for PFR. He would specifically like to thank Margaret Fisher in Canada, and Donna and Dean Payne in Baltimore, USA, for their kind hospitality. He also thanks Mustard Seed for its continuous generous support. Furthermore, he would like to thank PFI for providing his accommodation at the convocation and air tickets.
Although his trip proved to be a blessing, Pastor Deo is delighted to return home to his beloved family, and, of course, to PFR!