Not ashamed

I am not ashamed of the gospel and I am not ashamed to copy and paste and share this email I received today from our friends Bryan and Holly Hixson who are serving in Rwanda (or to steal a photo of a Rwandan sunset from their blog). They are doing awesome work ... all related to glorifying God, but ranging from teaching, months of wrangling over an outrageous water bill with the local utility, to ministering to genocide victims ... oh, and bumping elbows with the country's president.

They are such name droppers!

To see photos of their beautiful family and the beautiful country, go here

Hixson June Post:
Not Ashamed of the Gospel

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes…" (Romans 1:16)

As we finish month ten in Rwanda, I am mindful of the verse above and I wonder if my actions and words daily reflect someone who is unashamed of the gospel of Christ. I wonder if what people observe and hear reflects Jesus. I believe that all of our interactions with people either influence others negatively or positively for Christ. We are either for God or against God. In Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Church, he writes that there are two kinds of churches: growing churches and dying churches. I believe there is a spiritual parallel: growing people or dying people. We try too often to take positions of neutrality when God would call us to stand unashamed. Ask yourself whether your actions proclaim that you are not ashamed of the gospel when you take the positions you take, when you speak specific words, or when you take certain actions.

Living in a culture where it is virtually impossible for us to blend in makes us feel as if we are livng in a "fish bowl". As we walk the streets of Rwanda, it seems that all eyes are upon us. The constant stare can be very annoying, but it can also be very convicting. At times I wonder if this is what it must feel like to be a famous person who never gets a break from the eyes of onlookers. What I'm convinced of is that it does put us in a position of greater responsibility to reflect Jesus. As a young person, I remember hearing over and over that "you may be the only Jesus some people see." It sounds like an old cliché, but I believe it to be true. At minimum, I believe each set of eyes upon us represents one more opportunity to positively influence others, unashamed of the gospel.

A day in our life in Rwanda can mean that we will encounter those with incomes of less than $1/day, followed by a meeting with a cabinet member or ambassador. When I'm among those in poverty, it seems hard for most of them to see me as little more than a walking dollar bill. I would prefer that they see a child of God, but I wonder how. Some might say that, by giving them money or bread, I have shown them Jesus. I can certainly fill an occasional tummy, but the question lingers--how can I help to fill the soul? This question constantly stares us in the face, and there is often no obvious answer. I'll share with you two vastly different experiences that represent opportunities to answer this looming question.
A group of 8 boys ages 8-12 gathered at the door of my vehicle to ask for money. With sixteen hands forced into my window, my gut brought me to a mix of frustration and empathy. My heart told me I must do something, but my head said, "but how can you help so many?" As I wrestled in my head with how to respond, I saw another young boy coming toward the car with a small toy bicycle he had made from a clothes hanger and fabric. I had no need to buy the roughly hewn toy but, for the one dollar he asked, I knew he would have more than the average person for the day and possibly a lesson could be taught. I gave him 500 Francs and he skipped away in joy with the money above his head in celebration. The other boys watched him as though they were trying to understand why he was able to skip away happy and they were not. Their hands all fell to their sides and their minds followed their peer in wonder. Unfortunately, these children should be enjoying the years of playing with friends, followed by cookies and milk. Instead, they worry about finding their next meal.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, yesterday we had an encounter with President Kagame. As our family ate in a new coffee shop, the President and his family entered (surrounded by a cloud of security guards, of course). As they walked to the protected area where they would eat, His Excellency (as he is most often referred to here) stopped and patted Alexis on the shoulder. She glanced up and he asked her how she was doing. At first, she didn't look closely enough to realize who was speaking to her. I spoke up and said, "How are you Mister President?" She looked again, a little shocked that the President was standing there with his hand on her shoulder. He greeted each of us, including our guest, Erin Estep (who is here working with the Let's Start Talking program). We visited for a few minutes before he went on to his table with his family. He came by again for a few minutes and inquired about how we were doing in Rwanda and thanking us for feeling comfortable enough to live here. He was very warm and genuine in his conversation, which reminded me that he is just another man in God's creation, but with a great burden of a nation on his shoulders. I stood humbled by this man who has led a nation from one of the darkest periods of humanity to a nation that is becoming one of the greatest leaders on a continent. I realize that those boys with outstretched hands are a burden we share because of the positions God has given us. My reaction to the boys was based on both a policy of the President and a conviction of my faith. At that moment, I realized that from the poverty-stricken boy, to me as a middle-class American, to the leader of a nation, God has placed us in the same place at the same time for a purpose. I have to ask myself, "What is my purpose in this moment?" Once again, I am reminded of Romans 1:16. At least one purpose is to demonstrate to those around me, regardless of their status on this earth, that "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ."

You may not see a child begging for a dollar or meet a President in your favorite coffee shop this week. However, you can still demonstrate the gospel to your spouse, to your neighbor, to your children, or to the cashier at a store who has had a rough day. How will you demonstrate that you are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ today?
God has blessed us through many people who enable us to serve in Rwanda. If God has blessed you in a way that you are able to partner with us in monthly or one-time giving please find details below for how contributions can be made. We are sustained on a range of monthly and one-time gifts and honor all giving of any amount as a blessing from God though His faithful servants.