DCMI held an unprecedented citywide evangelistic gospel festival in Gisenyi, Rwanda. The pastors of Gisenyi welcomed David and the team wholeheartedly. For the past four years, DCMI held three pastors' conferences each year and this was the last conference before graduation. The pastors rented academic graduation caps, gowns, and tassels, and invited all of the graduates' families and friends to the formal celebration. We were thrilled to see how the morale and confidence of these pastors skyrocketed after their graduation. They were ready to bring their city to Jesus!
The Gisenyi Gospel Festival began in Umuganda Stadium. The hard rains kept many people away from the festival on the first day; however, the rain dwindled each time David came on the stage to preach. There was no rain on the third day and the stadium was packed with people. As David started to preach, the rain came down, but rain could not interfere with the heart of the Father who compassionately sought after his lost children. At least 200 people came forward in response to the invitation on the first day, and 700 on the second day. On the third day, David could not ask people to come forward because there were simply too many people at the stadium. Instead, David asked people to raise their hands to indicate their desire to accept Christ into their hearts. While it was impossible to accurately count the hands that were raised, at least 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ in Gisenyi that week, and there were possibly many more. Please pray with us that the local churches will follow through with every decision, helping people to plug into a congregation and grow as disciples and leaders.
The people of Gisenyi truly appreciated our outreach to children, because adults are typically the focal point of every social event in that culture. On the first day of the festival, as Agnas gave an invitation after a fifteen-minute children's message, some 300 children ran forward to accept Christ into their hearts. When she led these children in the sinner's prayer, some children wept while others laughed with joy. The children of Gisenyi were drawn to the gospel and Christian church through the games, sports events, and gifts we prepared for them.
As the people of Gisenyi learned of the medical and dental clinics, they packed the stadium to see the nurse practitioners and dentists. Although medical records disclosed to us that more than half of these people were HIV-positive or suffering from AIDS, the medical and dental mission teams served them with the heart of Christ. It was awesome to see the smiling face of the Mongolian dentist as he tenderly cared for an elderly woman after pulling her tooth. As the mission clinic closed, there were still patients waiting in line, desperate for treatment, and we were afraid that a riot would break out. It broke our hearts not to be able to care for each person in line, but we had to remove the healthcare workers in order for the festival to begin each night.
Besides the things described, so many other things are worth mentioning:
(1) Our ministry posters and banners were all over the city.
(2) It was rumored that Muslims hired people to remove or destroy the posters and banners.
(3) The vice-mayor of Gisenyi came to our banquet to welcome us on behalf of the city.
(4) The local radio station interviewed our team, as our ministry became a focal point of the community that week.
(5) A female American missionary communicated our teachings and sermons through sign language for the deaf pastors and lay people who attended our conference and festival.
(6) Three deaf people accepted Christ.
(7) A deaf choir from The Democratic Republic of the Congo gave an inspiring performance.
(8) God was glorified in the pastors' conference, medical clinics, and festival.
(9) The pastors are hungry to learn more and grow in their ability to lead.
(10) David was blessed with an amazing ministry team - James, Antoinnette, Aaron, Elaine, the Mongolian dental team, the nurse practitioners, and the bishops from Tanzania and Uganda. We are grateful to the DCMI supporters who made the four years of pastoral leadership development training and the festival possible!