The Culmination of our Freedom Work in Rwanda in September 2023Oct 08, 2023
Last week around this time, on our last day in Rwanda, our mission team and I were sitting in the home of a pastor with the intent of getting to the root of all the medical issues he had been suffering from for many years. I intended to meet with him back in February of 2023; however, a building had collapsed on his wife prematurely ending her life. We spent the last day of that trip in his home showing our respects. This trip, I was determined to get to the root of the suffering in his life. We were met with a little bit of resistance in the session at first due to a very common belief among Christians in general but even more specifically Christian leaders. The belief is that Christians, especially Christian leaders, cannot be oppressed by the enemy which in turn makes it near impossible for people to be relieved from the oppression if they do not think it exists in the first place. Many times the justification for this belief is that we just live a life in a fallen world, and we have struggles. This is a true statement; however, struggles are very different from demonic oppression and demonic oppression often masquerades as struggles.
Most people come into a deliverance session ready to surrender it all to Jesus and get rid of every work of the enemy in their life. There is not much resistance that has to be worked through, and the session flows fairly easily. There are times where people go through a session out of obligation because they feel pressured by a loved one, or they are not at a place where they are truly ready to surrender it all over to the Lord so they resist in areas or fight the enemy a lot more in the session than they really need to because the enemy knows their heart on the matter. I had a pastor one time ask to go through deliverance, I think, more so to prove me wrong that spiritual oppression does not exist. The resistance was thick. He was quite shocked when he was faced head on with his demons. I share all this to say that sometimes there is a little bit of coaching and teaching that must take place at the beginning of a session. This can be difficult depending on the person but even more difficult when the person does not speak the same language.
I am VERY blessed to have a leader in Rwanda, INGABIRE Nicole, who not only believes in spiritual oppression but engages to gain more understanding of it. I host LIVE training sessions at 7 PM on Monday nights through my Freedom and Deliverance Training Community. At 3 AM in Rwanda, she faithfully joins in to learn all she can about spiritual oppression and deliverance. As we were sitting across from the pastor in rural Rwanda, I told Nicole that is was going to be too hard and too much for me to try to coach him through the blockage of believers not being able to be oppressed internally by the enemy. I told her she was going to have to do it. Of course, she did! Her determination and commitment to learn paid off, and together, we were able to get this pastor delivered from 14 curses that were operating in his life. His ancestors had engaged in occult practices, and his grandfather had passed the mantle of leadership down to the pastor upon his death. The pastor had turned away from all of the lifestyle, false religion, and false worship in his life, but the impact of this ancestor's decisions were still at work in the spiritual word through curses, and the curses were literally destroying his life (Read Deuteronomy 28 for information on curses). Had he not been able to acknowledge that generational curses were indeed a reality so he could deal with them then they would continue to work to destroy his life and that mantle would have been passed on to one of his children. He resisted and fought internally with these curses his whole life, but they remained until they were dealt with. He had to officially reject them and that mantle of leadership, and we had to sever them and send them to the pit of hell. We left with a pastor who is now walking in freedom with Jesus and free of the internal resistance and conflict of living under curses while trying to walk in the truth and fulfillment of scripture in his life.
Several hours before our plane was to leave, I sat with my friend, NDATAMBUKWA James, an evangelist that travels throughout Africa preaching the gospel. I was sharing about everything that had happened throughout the week. He has been trying to get me to start doing work in the Congo because the need is so great. He said that deliverance is needed there so badly. I told him my heart was to train up ministers because I can only take so many people through deliverance in the way the Lord has me taking people through deliverance. The sessions can be long as we work to uproot everything. I told him my desire is to train up ministers. He said yes exactly because Christian leaders all around the world need to understand spiritual oppression and how to set free the ones they serve. This conversation led to us beginning to plan a Central Africa Deliverance Training Conference. I cannot even articulate the excitement and really a dream come true through this conversation and vision.
Let's go back to Day 1 and follow the trail of how the Lord got us to this place. We arrived at 1:55 AM Saturday, September 23. We rested for awhile and then ventured out to exchange money and show the guys the city. The scene outside the money exchange place was fairly typical. A busy city road with beggars outside because they know that foreigners typically show up to exchange money. I usually don't pay too much attention unless I feel the Lord tug on my heart about someone. I did notice a lady in a wheel chair. I almost paused to chat with her but decided to go ahead and get in the car. We had many days ahead of us.
Saturday evening we went to our center in Kabuga to unload all of our suitcases that were packed full of items for our families. Unexpectedly, I met a boy named Devis. One of our students, Xavera, had reached out to me asking if we could help send him to school. In Rwanda, parents have to pay to send their kids to school, and many parents cannot afford to so many children do not get to go to school. Xavera said his mother could not afford to send him off to secondary school so his education was going to have to end. We did not have the budget to send another child to school and were already stretched trying to get all the children we were already committed to off to school. When I first saw Devis, I thought he was a neighbor's child that came to see what was happening at our center. Nicole, my Country Director, informed me that he was the child that Xavera had contacted me about. I called him over to chat with him prepared to tell him we just could not support another child without securing a sponsorship first. Boarding school started Monday so there was just no time. As he began to share his story, a story that was not different than many of the other stories I hear in Rwanda...father abandoned the family, the mother is working hard trying to provide for all the children but it isn't enough, the oldest children end up having to drop out of school to try and find work to help support the family, the wages are never enough with no education, and the cycle of poverty continues with no education. As soon as Devis began to speak, I felt the presence of the Lord all around me. My eyes started welling up with tears. I could not tell him no and committed to personally send him to school. I found out after I committed that he received a perfect score on his national exam which determines where he will be sent for boarding school. The national exam is huge deal in Rwanda. Jerrid, who accompanied me on the trip, said he could not hear what was being said but could feel the presence of the Lord from about 20 feet away. This was the start to our trip.
Sunday morning started off with church. The message mainly focuses on the Lord beginning to write a new page. The old is gone. The new is beginning. It was very timely. I could write an entire book on why this was timely in my own life, my deliverance ministry, and the work of I Will Stand International. That evening, we were supposed to have go to an evangelical conference with 9 countries being represented with my friend that I mentioned earlier, James. However, I ended up in a deep conversation with Chris, a team member from America, on topic of spiritual gifts. He had not previously believed in spiritual gifts due to his training in the church and seminary. I laughed and said that God must want him plunged into an introduction since he sent him on trip with Jerrid and myself. We talked some on deliverance, and Chris shared some things that he would like to be delivered from so we ended up plunging into deliverance. We were sitting in the house with the front door open, and while I was explaining the process and about to begin, a HUGE gust of wind blew straight through the door and the entire concrete house shook. Later I found out the shaking was from an earthquake. I kept on talking but the violence of the wind was so much that Chris asked if we should be concerned and if it was something demonic. I paused and said I didn't feel anything evil but could pray and then we kept moving right along. Jerrid was in the his room when all this happened and did not know we had started in with a deliverance session. I told him about the wind and he said it was the spirit of God. He said an angel settled on this place. I thought how appropriate to receive those tangible affirmations as we are kicking the trip off with a deliverance session and even more symbolic of kicking off a new chapter with IWSI focused on transformation, freedom, and deliverance at a foundational level. It has always been my desire and my prayer from the very beginning, but up until this point, I have not had the team that could help me implement and cultivate it. Jerrid affirmed that God was showing his approval.
Tuesday started off with me wanting to go back to the money exchange place. I kept thinking of the lady in the wheelchair. We went back and found her in the street. I worked through praying with her and trying for the first time street deliverance. Nicole was translating for us and said there was some resistance. I could feel it. We chatted with her for awhile finding out that she suffered from polio and that she had to beg to help provide for her children. We decided to go back to her home and meet her children who needed help with food and school fees. We met the children, bought some groceries, and committed to look for sponsors who might be willing to partner with her children so they can finish their schooling. Her oldest child was in school, the second oldest (in the black and white plaid jacket) was sent home from school because she did have all the requirements for school met (school fees and supplies), and the other children were just at home doing nothing while waiting for an opportunity to go to school. Each child had dreams of their own, but all of them had a desire to get good jobs so they would be able to help with their mother and younger siblings.
Our driver took the woman in the wheelchair back to her house, and while we were waiting for him to come back and pick us up, a large group of beggars began to follow us around. We took refuge in a store until they dissipated. After awhile, I walked out in front of the store for some fresh air, and three women stood there all with their hands out. I asked my translator to tell them that I had no money to give but would pray for them. One woman with a cane came running towards me. She shared that she had HIV for 30 years, and HIV had killed her husband and children. She was remaining with her grandchildren. She pulled out the huge bottle of medicine to show me. She said she has dizzy spells too and that she was riding on the back of a moto taxi, fainted, and fell off injuring herself and losing her hearing. I asked her if she had anyone she needed to forgive or if she needed to repent of any witchcraft in her life. She leaned in real close and said that her family had worshipped snakes for generations. She repented of all of it. I began deliverance commands, and her entire body began to shake as she was sitting in the chair. As I was commanding, I saw wind blowing in my mind and then I saw lips blowing wind. I had a moment of thinking that I needed to blow in her ear to release healing in her ear but then didn't because I was not sure how she would respond. She said she could see things leaving. She said she felt peace. We had a ministry event planned for the next day about 30 minutes to an hour from her depending on traffic. I gave her money for transportation and asked if she would attend and share her testimony. She showed up the next morning, danced and praised the Lord, and then shared her testimony in front of about 200 people. She said she has had such peace since the day before...no more thoughts running through her mind, no more images of snakes, no more temptations of the enemy. She said the physical symptoms were gone, and she could not wait to get an official HIV test to confirm that she was healed. We have already had one HIV healing miracle in Rwanda. I cannot wait to hear reports of another. I approached her later at the event and asked her about her ear. She said she still could not hear out of it. I told her that I think the Lord wanted me to blow in her ear. She was ok with it. I repented for not having been obedient the day before (this was new territory for me) and asked the Lord to still honor that command. I blew in her ear and commanded it to open. Her ear began to slowly open. We prayed and commanded, and as we stood in faith, her ear kept opening until she was able to fully hear. Praise the Lord!
The ministry event was more than we could have imagined. As we were on our way to the event early Wednesday morning, and Jerrid shared Matthew 28:1-10 with me. He said the Lord gave him that scripture, and he believed that the Lord meant it for me and I Will Stand International. Here is the passage:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (NIV)
He said that he believed the Lord is resurrecting the ministry, and this week is the launching pad. The ministry in Rwanda had struggled under two former leaders especially the last leader. The summer was very difficult as Nicole and I worked to correct some things that needed correcting. My desire has been to see transformation that I know can only come through Jesus over there and all around the world. I have just struggled to have the right leadership that could cultivate that kind of culture...until now. I read the passage and had tears welling up in my eyes. The earthquake. The angel. The people being afraid like Chris who was concerned about the earthquake, wind, and house shaking earlier in the week. The resurrection. I felt like it was so symbolic of what the Lord was doing this week. We had been on a prophetic scavenger hunt all week (It is hard to share all the little threads. This post does not encapsulate everything), and this was one more link/confirmation.
Either before or after Jerrid shared the passage in the car, I shared an idea I had been mulling over with the Lord since we had arrived. So many of the families we serve cannot read yet transformation happens through the Word of God. It is Truth that sets us free (John 8:32). We talked about teaching classes at our center to teach people how to read but that can take a long time. I was mulling over the idea of having people sign up for shifts to read scripture at our center 24/7 so that anyone at anytime can come and hear the Word of the Lord. I was calculating the additional budget funds needed to coordinate this. As I was talking it out in the car, I thought about all the women we have poured into by offering them free sewing lessons and all the people we have poured into in other ways. I had an idea.
As we arrived at the ministry center and kicked off the event, there were more confirmations throughout the day. Our IWSI pastor, a dynamic and mighty woman of the Lord, read the same passage in Matthew 28 that Jerrid had given me in the car. She preached a message in the audience for the women to come alive. She prophesied that we would need a bigger building in Rwanda because the Lord was doing a new work. I had been talking earlier of how starting the scripture reading and some other projects we have talked about would require us to have a larger building. She had no idea about anything we had been discussing. Another man wrote 4 prophesies on a piece of paper sliding them over to me...they spoke directly to my heart. God was confirming His work. When I went to speak with the man, he said he also saw me sitting in Rwanda signing several contracts. He said he didn't know what they were or when they would happen, but he could see it. Both Chris and Jerrid shared what the Lord had put on their hearts, and then, it was my time to speak. I shared on the new direction of IWSI. I shared about the 24/7 scripture reading. I thought it might be a burden on my current staff to have to oversee and coordinate. They were thrilled. I put a call to action to everyone in attendance saying the Lord and the ministry has poured into their lives, and now for those who can read, here is an opportunity for them to be able to give back. At the end of the event, many women came forward to sign up to read. We did not have to add to our budget. The Lord provided volunteers. I went on to share my testimony. It is always shocking for them to hear where I came from to where the Lord has brought me. I shared on a life of blessings and curses and walked the women through forgiveness and renouncing witchcraft. We severed curses, and I declared a blessing over their life. Finally, when it was time to sit down, Jerrid asked if I noticed what was going on around me while on the stage. I had no clue. He said a huge thunderstorm came through. I vaguely remember it getting so loud at one point that Nicole had a hard time hearing me for translation. He also said there were sparks flashing in the building. He was convinced there was at least one angel present if not thousands. Nicole told me the belief in Rwanda is that if it rains then blessings are being poured down. Everyone noticed the storm that came during the event.
On Thursday, we went to visit a woman that was originally introduced to me as the "mad" woman. When I first met her in February of 2023, her daughter would have to lock her in their home to keep her from wandering away. One of our foster moms began helping her because she wandered away one time, was raped, and had a baby that she was not capable of taking care of. She would wander the roads, yelling at people, and throwing things at people. She could not carry on a conversation or articulate her needs. I attempted a deliverance session with her the first time I met her. Nicole had translated and said that she did begin to answer some of the questions but not really in anything that meant much of anything. About 1.5 hours after she had been around us, she noticed white people around her for the first time. At one point she said the word snake in the most perfect English. Things were happening; however, we were not sure what or how much. We gave the daughter money to buy a bible and left her with the instructions to read scripture to her daily. Upon returning to visit her last week, I received reports that she no longer ran away and could help around the house with basic chores. I observed her caring somewhat for her baby...a huge improvement from the last time I met with her. She also walked right into the home and greeted us something she did not do before. She still was not really speaking. I felt the Lord tell me to do some deliverance with her daughter standing in the gap for her. We did not notice too much immediate change except when I told her that I loved her and that Jesus loved her over and over again she began to smile each time I said it. My instructions to her daughter this time was to tell her continuously that Jesus loves her. This truth will undoubtedly do a transformative work in her life until I can check back with her. Undoubtedly, the Lord has her in the palm of his hand.
Friday was a much awaited day. We had 15 people awaiting baptism. Again, the rain came. It seemed to follow us everywhere we went. Even on the last day when we were sharing in the pastor's church, a downpour accompanied by thunder came during time we were sharing with the church. A woman near by said the blessing of the Lord came with us. She said they had not had any rain in awhile, and their crops had started withering. The Lord seemed to be sending the rain with us. Jerrid had shared in our pre-trip meetings that he felt like the Lord wanted us to baptize people so he had the honor doing the baptisms. He told me before hand that as he was waiting for everyone to arrive he heard the word bastard in his head. He thought it was a bit odd coming from the Lord but then felt like the Lord wanted him to cast out a bastard spirit from the women while baptizing them. With every dunk, he commanded the bastard spirit to go in the name of Jesus. Many of the women had physical reactions of deliverance coming up out of the water. It was incredible to watch. What a day! A day that is really hard to sum up with words. After the baptisms, we headed over the home of our driver who had been hearing all of the work of the Lord through our team all week. He was having trouble with his son and wanted us to pray. That night, a little boy got delivered from spirits causing him to run away and creating division between him and his dad. We got reports afterwards that the son began embracing his father once again instead of hiding from unjustified fear. Praise the Lord!
Saturday, we took a trip to Akagera National Park where we took our visitors on a safari and brought some of our staff out for appreciation. Sunday was our last day on the ground with the pastor and the meeting with my evangelist friend James. So many more things happened. So many more whispers from the Lord. So many more impacts made by our team and by the people of Rwanda towards our team. I started this blog post because my heart is still over in Rwanda...with my team...with our families...on the streets. From my very first trip in 2012, Rwanda has held a special place in my heart or perhaps it has just kept a piece of my heart that keeps drawing me back. I know Rwanda made an undeniable impact on Chris and Jerrid which is their story to tell. I am looking forward to sharing Rwanda with new team members in the future. People wanting to impact lives and have their lives impacted. I cannot wait to see what all the Lord will be doing in Rwanda and all around the world through I Will Stand International and the freedom work He started in me. The ripple effect is beginning. Please continue to pray for us, and if the Lord is stirring in your heart, come and join us!