Rwanda is one of smallest countries in East Africa. Despite its equatorial location, Rwanda’s mile high altitude keeps its humidity low and its temperatures ranging between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Most international visitors find this “land of 10,000 hills” quite comfortable, clean, and safe. Many in the west became aware of Rwanda in 1994, when one of most horrifying genocides in history occurred there.
In the spring of that year the majority Hutu tribe systematically killed 800,000 of the minority Tutsi tribe with guns and machetes. The reality of the violence was captured in the 2004 movie “Hotel Rwanda”.
IN THE BEGINNING
Just four years after the genocide, Dr. Kim Foreman, a professor of instructional technology at San Francisco State University, visited Rwanda for the first time. In 2001 she persuaded her pastor husband Chris to accompany her for a second visit. They found that the Spirit of God was blazing like a wildfire across East Africa and their hearts were captured. Over the next decade they returned once or twice every year. As they made friends and established continuing relationships with trusted indigenous pastors, ministers, and university students they saw a great need at the National University of Rwanda in Butare; Rwanda’s second city in the south.
The needs of Africa seem overwhelming. God has called many to minister to the poor and the sick and outcasts on the continent. But what the Foremans saw was a need to reach the future leaders in Africa. They discerned a core problem throughout Africa as being “bad governance”; political, business, and tribal leaders who covet power as a means of personal gain; who lead corrupt and immoral lives. Billions of dollars in well-intended aid have flowed into such countries as the Congo and Somalia. Yet the social symptoms of bad governance continue and even worsen. Money is not a solution to what ails Africa.
Perhaps because of the severe trauma of the genocide, Rwanda seemed especially open to God’s answers to their intractable problems. The Foremans saw a hope that Rwandans could create a Rwanda free of foreign aid. In Rwanda there is only one national university. Nearly all of the future leaders of Rwanda will pass through it. The University was also one of the centers of the racist Hutu ideology that triggered the genocide. Rather than focusing solely on the suffering children, they saw another long term hope for Africa. A hope to save widows and children by preventing a future genocide. Several of the local pastors that they had grown to love had ongoing ministries to the university. They found many college students asking questions about the Bible and very open to Christian answers to their country’s problems.
So in 2005 the Foremans formed Come & See Africa (CASA) in order to further fan the flames at the university. They rented a house a short walk from the university to be their headquarters for ministry teams from America and as a year round Christian student center.
They helped establish a Rwandan non-profit; Come and See Rwanda (CASR). They hired and supported local campus ministers to train Christian students in theology and the faith. While finishing their daily secular degrees these students attend classes several evenings each week. The Bible and theology classes are taught by the CASR team, local pastors, and local ministers. The Foremans also organized annual international student conferences. These conferences brought together several hundred Christian college students for teaching and fellowship from Rwanda and from the five nations surrounding it. The house also served as an outreach center to the poor of the area. It also seeks to include the students in these outreaches.
In 2008 the Foremans decided to help CASR buy an vacant lot and to build a university ministry center of its own. The property was once occupied by the house of the president of Rwanda during the 100 days of the genocide in 1994. He had been on the university faculty prior to his ascension to the presidency. God chose to redeem this plot of land from the hate of the genocide to the goal of preventing future genocides through planting the love of God deep in the hearts of the university students. Over the next year, the foundation was dug and the plans were made. However, when the great recession hit, the progress on the building slowed considerably.
EXCEPT A SEED DIE
By 2010 the student conference was deferred to focus on the building. But its progress continued to slow. Its success was put into God’s hands. God however sometimes moves His hands in most unexpected ways. On the last day of July 2010 Chris and Kim had just completed nearly two solid weeks of ministry. The executive director of CASR, Frank, was to drive them the three hours to Kigali, the capital. Frank was a university student when Chris first met him in 2001 and had been leading their campus ministry for seven years.
But the fatigue of the weeks of ministry affected him and he fell asleep at the wheel. The car flew off the road, rolled, and came to rest on its roof. Chris regained consciousness as a Rwandan was cutting his seat belt to help him out. Frank’s head was bleeding, but he was conscious and walking. But Kim was not in the car. They found her twenty feet away; unconscious and badly injured. She was taken to the hospital in the capital and put on life supports. Her two sons flew to Rwanda, but by the time they arrived their mother had gone to be with her Savior. At her funeral, her son Zachary said, “If God had appeared to my mom two weeks before her death and asked her ‘How would you like to spend the last fourteen days of your life? I will grant you whatever you wish.’ She may have responded, ‘Thou knowest. I would not change a thing’”.
But for Chris, this was an extremely difficult time. His grief was overwhelming and the blame was focused on the one whom he had considered his “African son”; the driver, Frank. Rwanda is a country where peaceful neighbors rose up and murdered their friends. It took a few months, but Chris agreed that he too must find it in his heart of forgive Frank for the negligence that cost him his wife. He needed to restore Frank to his ministry. Such was the testimony that was required for both Rwanda and for Chris to heal. Chris’ pilgrimage to forgiveness was published in Guidepost Magazine in November, 2013. In 2015, Chris published a book about his experience entitled: “Forgive Like a Rwandan” It can be obtained at this link: forgivelikearwandan.com
When forgiveness was forthcoming and Frank was reinstated, contributions began to flow in to complete the building. It was now to house the Joy of God Bible Institute. It is named for Joy of God that beamed on Kim’s face whenever she ministered in Rwanda. Within a year the entire vision of the building was growing. The CASR board found that the local government was very interested in encouraging their project. It suggested that they include businesses at the site. Soon the building was reconfigured into what is now called “the Lighthouse Ministry Center”.
A LIGHTHOUSE TO LEAD OUT OF A DARK NIGHT
The Lighthouse is now one of the larger buildings in Huye (as Butare was renamed in 2012). In 2015, it was opened for international ministry teams to rent out hotel and conference rooms. The goal is for the businesses within the ministry center to make CASR self-sufficient. It would require no American funds to carry on its ministries to all of south Rwanda.
On the ground floor it houses the “Joy of God Bible Institute” in honor of Kim Foreman. This includes a large chapel, several classrooms, a library, and a cafeteria. It is used as the CASA house was in the past; as a Christian Student Center to train university students. The Institute is also planning to be used to train local pastors to allow them to receive the certificates that the government now requires of them. It also houses the annual international East Africa Christian Student Apologetics Conferences, which was restarted in 2013.
In order to be self-sufficient, the Lighthouse houses five road-side shops, a 20 room hotel, and a rooftop restaurant with the best view in southern Rwanda (according to the regional governor). CASA continues to facilitate and sponsor mission teams from throughout the world to come and see the tremendous movement of the Spirit in south Rwanda.
If you are interested in more information on this ministry or wish to support it, contact Dr. Frank Foreman at firstname.lastname@example.org
- 1998 – DR KIM FOREMAN VISITS RWANDA WITH KOREAN MISSION TEAM
- 2001 – DR. CHRIS FOREMAN JOINS KIM IN MISSION OUTREACH TO RWANDA
- 2002-2004 – FOREMANS RETURN FOR ANNUAL MINISTRY OUTREACHES AND ESTABLISH DEEP RELATIONSHIPS WITH AFRICAN PASTORS AND CHRISTIAN LEADERS
- 2005 – COME & SEE AFRICA INTERNATIONAL IS FORMED AND THE STUDENT MINISTRY HOUSE IS RENTED
- 2006 – COME AND SEE RWANDA IS FORMED
- 2005-2010 – CASA LEADS SIX MISSION TEAMS ON TWO WEEK MINISTRIES OUTREACHES
- 2007 – 2009 ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CONFERENCE SPONSORED BY CASA AND HOSTED BY CASR
- 2008-2010 PROPERTY PURCHASED AND FOUNDATION DUG FOR MINISTRY CENTER
- 2010 – KIM FOREMAN DIES IN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT IN RWANDA
- 2011 –2012 CHRIS FOREMAN RETURNS TO RWANDA AND RENEWS BUILDING OF LIGHTHOUSE
- 2013-2017 ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL EAST AFRICAN APOLOGETICS CONFERENCES SPONSORED BY CASA AND HOSTED BY CASR
- 2014 JOY OF GOD BIBLE INSTITUTE OPENED TO STUDENT MINISTRY
- 2015 LIGHTHOUSE HOTEL, RESTAURANT, AND SHOPS OPEN FOR BUSINESS