Dr. Rick Warren Applauds Rwanda’s Progress in Reconciliation
Pastor Declares Country a Model for PEACE Around the World During 20th Anniversary Shima Imana National Thanksgiving Celebration
KIGALI, Rwanda, August 17, 2014 – Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, today challenged a crowd of more than 15,000 gathered at Amahoro Stadium for Rwanda Shima Imana, a Day of Thanksgiving to celebrate reconciliation and gratitude on the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which took the lives of 1 million Rwandans and left 1 million children orphaned over the course of 100 days.
“God has blessed Rwanda in so many ways; so how does God want us to show our thanks to Him?” asked Warren. “Thank God for the three different kinds of leaders He has used to build a new Rwanda – government leaders to rebuild the structure, business leaders to rebuild the stability and spiritual leaders to rebuild the heart of the nation.
Warren announced that in June, leaders of all Rwandan churches went on a four-day retreat together and wrote a historic document called “The Muzanze Declaration” – a statement of repentance by the churches – which he then shared publicly at today’s celebration.
“When we think of all the ways God has blessed us, it motivates us to admit our failures and ask for forgiveness,” said Warren.
In welcoming Warren to the stadium Apostle Paul Gitwaza, pastor of Zion Temple, said, “When people see what is happening in Rwanda they call it a miracle, but as Christians we know it is the love of God.”
Gtiwaza shared testimonies of individuals who have reconciled following the genocide before declaring a message for the people of Rwanda.
“What is the legacy we want to leave the youth of Rwanda? It is a legacy of love – the love of Christ,” he added.
On Friday, August 15, Warren spoke at a National Youth Rally, encouraging approximately 2,000 young people to make the most of their life by using what God has placed in their hand.
“God only makes originals; he never makes copies. You are unique and God loves you,” Warren said. “If you are going to be someone great, you must stop living for others’ approval.
“You are as happy as you choose to be; happiness is a choice,” Warren continued. “Stop waiting for something to happen in the future to be happy. God has put you in this country at this historic moment.”
Warren has been in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, for the past week, where he invited more than 100 leaders from 31 African nations, in addition to China, Russia, India and America, to discuss the Purpose Driven PEACE Plan. Last Monday, Warren announced he will host an All Africa Purpose Driven Church Congress in Kigali, summer 2015, convening leaders from all 54 African nations. The Congress will be the first of five annual continent-wide conferences to take place by 2020, with the second planned for Latin America in 2016.
On Tuesday, August 12, Warren joined His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, in addressing a gathering of government and business leaders as well as a national live television audience.
The pastor challenged attendees and the audience to use their influence for good and for God.
“Sometimes God is going to put you right in the middle of a problem because he wants you to be part of the solution,” said Warren. “In God’s economy, the more you serve, the more you will lead. The size of your power is the size of your service.”
Warren and members from Saddleback Church have been implementing The PEACE Plan in Rwanda since 2005, when President Kagame personally invited Warren to help make the country the first Purpose Driven nation.
The PEACE Plan works worldwide to Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation, through a massive effort to mobilize millions of Christians to combat the five global evil giants of spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education. Since its founding, Saddleback has sent over 23,000 members to implement The PEACE Plan in all 197 nations of the world.
Through The PEACE Plan in Rwanda, Saddleback Church has worked together with the public, private and faith sectors of the nation – what it calls the three-legged stool of churches, government and businesses – to help lower the poverty rate, empty orphanages, provide healthcare, train pastors and provide education.
For more information about Saddleback’s work in Rwanda or The PEACE Plan, visit http://www.saddleback.com or http://www.thepeaceplan.com. For additional information about Rwanda Shima Imana, visit http://www.shimaimana.rw.
Founded in 1980 by the Warrens, Saddleback Church has nine locations throughout Southern California, four international campuses, as well as an online campus, and is one of the most influential churches in the nation.
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