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THE STADIUM NAMED ‘PEACE’ BECOMES LAUNCHPAD
KIGALI, RWANDA, March 31, 2008 – Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., began a nine-day trip to Rwanda – his 10th visit – with an event at Amohoro (translated “Peace”) Stadium, representing a celebration of the first three years of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan in Rwanda and the initiation of the first national 40 Days of Purpose campaign at the invitation of His Excellency President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and the Rwandan Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan steering committee.
“This week we are launching a biblical way of living in Rwanda – we call it, ‘The Purpose Driven Life,’” Dr. Warren said to nearly 20,000 gathered in the hot African sun. “What matters in life is your relationship to God and His purpose for you. The first 500 churches will start this weekend. When they finish, they will train others – your church – and then your church will help even more churches.”
The nearly 20,000 attendees came from all provinces of Rwanda, and included a delegation of approximately 100 from Saddleback Church, most who were volunteers that paid their own travel and expenses to come and participate in the P.E.A.C.E. team initiative. Ironically, “Amohoro” is the word for “Peace” in the local Kinyarwandan language.
The program, highlighted by the appearance and comments of President Kagame, included a graduation ceremony for the first class of 200 Rwandan pastors who have completed a three-year Purpose Driven and P.E.A.C.E. training program.
“I want to say to Rick and Kay Warren that they could not find a better place than Rwanda for the Purpose Driven campaign, for good and bad reasons,” President Kagame said. “The bad reasons are related to our history – in our past we have lived a life without purpose. The good reasons are related to our future – that we have a chance with the Purpose Driven Life.
“What is unique about this initiative is that the P.E.A.C.E. plan combines the talent and energy from three sectors of society – public, private and faith,” President Kagame continued, affirming Saddleback Church’s Western Rwanda HIV/AIDS Healthcare Initiative Project that is reinventing healthcare management and distribution by using churches as clinics. “This model can be replicated in other parts of our country. More importantly, more Rwandans of faith need to adopt this mindset.”
The P.E.A.C.E. plan is a massive effort to mobilize 1 billion Christians to attack the five global giants of our day – spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education. “P” stands for promote reconciliation, “E” for equip servant leaders, “A” for assist the poor, “C” for care for the sick, and the second “E” for educate the next generation.
In the first phase of the program, which began in 2004, Saddleback Church sent more than 7,700 of its church members in small teams to 68 countries, of which nearly 1,000 have been working in Rwanda.
Dr. Warren met with a delegation of 16 national U.S. media representatives who traveled to Rwanda to cover P.E.A.C.E. plan progress-to-date. During the briefing, he said, “We didn’t choose Rwanda, they invited us. Our goal is not to change Rwanda, but to serve this country. The P.E.A.C.E. Plan is built on the biblical foundation that faith without works is dead, and we overcome evil with good.”
Addressing a prayer breakfast for local business and government leadership, Dr. Warren and his wife Kay discussed four building blocks necessary for successful relationships – unselfishness, humility, love and forgiveness. While they spoke specifically and candidly about their own marriage, many of the principles translate to other relationships – such as family, friendships and even church and business.
“No nation is stronger than its families – to build a strong church, community or nation, you need strong families,” Dr. Warren said, noting that the message of forgiveness is particularly poignant in a country dealing with the difficulty of reconciliation since the 1994 genocide that killed nearly 1 million Rwandans.
The Warrens also participated Monday in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative Conference (WHOFBCI) on Public-Private Partnerships and Economic Development attended by President Kagame and hosted by WHOFBCI Director Jay Hein.
“Never sacrifice sustainability for speed,” Dr. Warren challenged the gathering of U.S. business, government and NGO representatives in what Director Hein described as the quote of the day. “This conference is about partnership, not paternalism. The No. 1 problem in international development is not lack of money, but lack of trust in local leaders to know what to do. Real partnerships say, ‘How can we serve and support you,’ not, ‘Let us direct you.’
“Partnering with churches is difficult, and it takes longer than doing it by yourself,” Dr. Warren added. “One difference in the P.E.A.C.E. Plan is that I trust pastors and churches to know their community better than we ever will. In the long-run, relationships are the key.”
During the week, the Warrens and their team will visit Kibuye, site of the Western Province HIV/AIDS Healthcare Initiative Project, and have a number of meetings with government, business and church leaders. Additionally, Mrs. Warren will lead a team to Butare to visit with academic leaders in the community, exploring opportunities to address the need for educational elements in the implementation of the P.E.A.C.E. plan.
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