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Faith & Service

Liberty to Rwanda

June 8, 2018

What started as simple acts of generosity last fall became mountains of opportunity during Spring Break. More than 90 students, faculty, and staff traveled to Rwanda with LU Send as part of the university’s new “G5” initiative.

G5 kicked off in October with the purpose of uniting the student body to impact a nation each year by living out the “fruit of the Spirit” described in Galatians 5. Early on, the efforts led to a partnership with Compassion International in Rwanda. Students, faculty, and staff signed up to sponsor close to 1,000 children. During the 10-day trip in March, students from different academic disciplines were immersed in the Rwandan culture that they had been hearing so much about all year, and they had the chance to meet some of those precious children face to face.

But it was also a time to meet the needs of the Rwandan people, for students to touch the lives of families who had suffered one of the worst genocides in history.

Teams were scattered throughout several villages. Some spent time in schools, and some visited families’ homes. Several students joined members of Liberty’s Planning and Construction team and Lynchburg area contractors to build two homes for families enrolled in the Compassion International family program. School of Nursing students met a critical need at Mont Cyangugu Health Center by delivering a new ultrasound machine donated by the university. They also conducted community clinics.

During the first year of G5, friendships were forged and lives were changed through God’s blessings on this special nation.

Trip testimonials:

Junior Rebecca Olson (far right) carries bricks for one of the two homes built for families enrolled in the Compassion International family program.

Rebecca Olson (Junior, English):
“Mothers would erupt in applause when we said that we sponsored kids. It’s not a huge sacrifice for me, but these people are so, so thankful for me, and I really wanted to tell them, ‘You don’t need to be thankful for me; I’m not worthy of it because every good thing comes from God.’”


Alexandria Patton plays with children in the Reconciliation Village.

Alexandria Patton (Freshman, Criminal Psychology):
“The Reconciliation Village was one of the most incredible places I have ever been to. You have perpetrators and families of genocide victims living hand in hand, their children becoming friends and growing up together. Witnessing the two groups living in the same community was one of the toughest — yet one of the most beautiful — things I have ever seen. You can see the grief in some of the victims’ faces, but with God at the center of their lives, they know it is only right to forgive those who have hurt them and their families.”

Matt Cruickshank meets with his sponsor child.

Matt Cruickshank (Sophomore, Psychology):

“I met a woman who had 47 members of her family killed, including some of her kids and her husband, and now she and one of the two men who killed them live in the same home. She’s forgiven him, and some of her kids and his kids are engaged. Revival’s there. It is a Christian country. It’s amazing that someone who appears to have so little actually has so much. There’s joy in the littlest things, and everywhere you go, they’re serving us, they’re cheering for us — and we’d done nothing to deserve it. At the same time, you see their poverty and feel their hurt. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I did that week in my entire life.”

Liberty’s teams worked on two homes while in Rwanda.

Brad Butler (Planning Coordinator, LU Planning & Construction)

“We built two homes with mud bricks and straw. One was for a husband and wife with three kids and the other for an elderly lady with three daughters and her grandchildren. One of the ladies thanked us because she said she never believed she would be ‘living in a mansion.’ I was so impressed with the commitment the students made to the physical labor and also in ministering to the villagers by singing songs and playing games. Clearly, we left a positive impression for the cause of Christ because of the students’ interaction with villagers.”

Symphony Hines spends time with her sponsor child Roger.

Symphony Hines (Freshman, Electrical Engineering)

“Meeting my sponsor child, Roger, and spending the day with him and his dad was a dream come true. I am so blessed to have been able to see the work of Compassion International in the lives of the Rwandan people. However, there are so many children who still need sponsors, and it’s so important to help if you can. The sponsored children are so much healthier and are constantly hearing about and personally witnessing the love of Christ. The hope of Rwanda changed my life, and I cannot wait to go back.”

Sophomore Claire Blanchard (center) joins other Liberty students at the Compassion Child Development Center near Kigali.

Claire Blanchard (Sophomore, Theatre Arts)

“I saw God like I had never seen Him before in Rwanda. Going into the trip, I didn’t know anyone else, but I came back with lots of friends and memories. I would highly recommend other students go on an LU Send trip.”

Matt Novack (Media Systems Manager)

Matt Novack (left) explores Rwanda with some of the Liberty team.

“Going to Rwanda as part of the G5 initiative was one of the best experiences in my life. I was able to bring back the lesson of unity, which they live out every day as a Rwandan community, even through all the suffering and pain from their past. I am now striving to be more unified in my home and community here in Lynchburg. LU Send provided me with this opportunity to learn a life lesson, and I will never forget it.”

Senior Paige Seeber was one of several nursing students who hosted community clinics in villages around Rwanda.

Kathryn Miller (Associate Professor, School of Nursing)

“Students who have gained book knowledge related to community health were able to apply their knowledge. They sat under the tree with village women and communicated for the first time through translators. They became change agents as they supported the people of Gihiya. To see students interact with the women, exchange stories, and then decide to do what is necessary to meet those needs was powerful.”

  • Learn more about the ongoing efforts at Liberty.edu/G5. To support student travel at Liberty, text “LUSendGive” to “24502.”

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