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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Stoles for Rwanda

It's been a year since Joyce and Robert Anderson, Christ Lutheran Church, Hot Springs Village, Ark., hosted George Wilson Kaliisa, bishop of the Lutheran Church of Rwanda. Kaliisa taught the Andersons about the results of Rwanda's 1994 genocide, which left it a poor and broken country. Kaliisa's church has few resources and can't pay pastors or rent buildings. The faithful meet in tents, homes and fields. "They are proud people and very traditional in their forms of worship," Joyce Anderson said.

Before Kaliisa left, Anderson showed him the stoles she had made for her husband. "If my pastors only had something like this," Kaliisa said. On impulse, she volunteered to make them, beginning the Rwandan Stoles Project.

Kaliisa chose traditional "Lutheran-looking" patterns so pastors could use them to teach concepts of the faith. Twenty-five people, including Clarence Freitag and Elain Edge and other members, spent 400 hours creating 75 stoles — five for each of the 15 pastors.

Value to the Rwandan church is $9,000, said Anderson, who also sent fabric for the Rwanda congregations to make altar cloths. The project was funded by Christ Lutheran Church Women and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Kaliisa's most recent e-mail reported: "The Lutheran church is opening in five provinces out of 12. But in the future we shall cover the whole of Rwanda. Pray for us; the number of Christians is increasing."

The stoles arrived safely in Rwanda in mid-July.


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