Bishop John Rucyahana — No More Aid!
Bishop of Shyria, Rwanda
If the African nations today agree together to say, ‘No more aid,” … I tell you, they can grow slowly, but they can grow.
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Bishop John Rucyahana—Before the Genocide
John Rucyahana was forced to flee his homeland of Rwanda at the age of 14 and spent the next 38 years as a refugee in Uganda. He came to Christ when he was 21, became a school teacher and lay evangelist, married in 1969 and, with his wife Harriet, raised five children. He was ordained in the Anglican Church in 1975 and eventually became rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Hoima, Uganda, where he lived and worked under the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin. In the early 1990s he started the Blessed Mustard Seed Babies Home of Hoima, Uganda for abandoned children and for children who had lost their parents to Aids.
Bishop John Rucyahana—Reconciliation After the Genocide
After the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Bishop John returned to his homeland in the footsteps of the Tutsi rebel army that put an end to the genocide. In a country with dead bodies rotting in every direction, Rucyahana began the challenging work of reconciliation, bringing a message of love and forgiveness to a nation that had seen a tenth of its population wiped out in a hundred-day frenzy of house-to-house killing. He tells his story in The Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness Amidst a Pile of Bones.
Eventually, Bishop John was appointed the Anglican Bishop of the Shyira Diocese of northwest Rwanda, one of the hardest hit sections of the country. The Sonrise School is one of Bishop John's best known ministries. In the face of a debilitated education system and a flood of more than 400,000 Rwandan orphans, Bishop John set out to create a boarding school that would set the standard for academic excellence and entrepreneurial leadership training in Rwanda, with over half the students being orphans. Sonrise School has consistently ranked in the top seven of the more than 2000 primary schools in the country.
In his roles as parish priest, in his work with the Sonrise School, as Chairman of Prison Fellowship Rwanda, and as a member of President Paul Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council, Bishop John has continued to work actively in the reconciliation process between those who lost loved ones in the genocide and those who participated in the slaughter.
Bishop John Rucyahana—International Relations
In 1998, Bishop John became the first African bishop with a parish in the United States—St. Andrews Anglican Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, which he administered remotely from Rwanda. From that experience, the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) was launched in 2000.
Bishop John also works with Pastor Rick Warren on the Saddleback Church’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan; and with Dale Dawson as co-founders of Bridge2Rwanda, an organization focused on boosting cooperation between people in the United States and Rwanda. “Bishop John has led the way in building schools, hospitals, businesses, community centers and churches,” the website states in its bio of him. “He speaks several languages and earned his Masters in Divinity degree in the U.S. He travels frequently to North America, Europe and Australia as an ambassador for Jesus and Rwanda. Christianity Today magazine described Bishop John as Rwanda’s Christian leader with the biggest network of friends in America.”
The Church—Boots on the Ground
The church is out there with the people. You know I’m hugging and I’m shaking hands with every one of these children because I’m with them all the time. They know who I am, and they know I am there for them. During the aftermath of the genocide, many people ran away from here, and I stayed with them. All of these individuals giving the aid ran away from here. And I stayed. Churches are here. And we know how to approach them.
No More Aid!
Most Africans have been made so dependent on aid and the relief, and loans from IMF, from the World Bank. … They perpetuate your misery by giving you a loan, make you a slave, an economic slave, and you also end up paying the raw materials because you are chained by the loan. So it becomes a way of colonizing the economies of the poor nations. But if the African nations today agree together to say, ‘No more aid! We don’t want aid. If you don’t give us grants, we don’t want it,’ I tell you, they can grow slowly, but they can grow.
These poor, especially where you give money, they are given a system that doesn’t give work. ‘We give you this money … but if you work, we stop it.’ In other words, you create a permanent dependency.… And they truly become dependent on the system. And their grandchildren will remember that. That is a chain of economics, which Africa should shake … shake it off our head.