Sean & Emma Lawson (Rwanda)

March 2016 update

Thanksgiving and praise

  • The work of Azizi Life and their NGO and all those we've had the opportunity to meet.
  • A small group of 'expats' in the same town as us and the discipleship group we've started on a Tuesday night.

Prayer requests Spring 2016

  • Please cover us in prayer against malaria; incidences of malaria have risen recently in this area.  We don’t take anti-malaria tablets as no one knows the long-term result of taking them for longer than a year; we all sleep under nets at night. Nonetheless, some friends of ours have come down with it recently and it is a cause for concern.
  • Our car is causing us trouble already, sometimes it just doesn’t start.  This has happened when Emma’s been on her own with the boys and although it did start after 15 minutes or so, it’s been a big worry and hassle.  The mechanics we’ve been to don’t seem to know what the problem is; whatever it is, it isn’t obvious.  Please pray that the problem would be resolved soon.
  • Safety as Sean travels by motorbike to various places (mostly off-road).
  • That we find a suitable piece of land for the project to set up the demonstration apiary.
  • Micah, that he would continue to settle in and process things in a less explosive way!
  • For a work/family life balance.

About Us:

Our desire is to join in with God's mission of reconciliation and fullness of life in a world of brokenness and spiritual and physical hunger.  The poor like everyone else bear the image of the Creator. They have knowledge, abilities and resources. Treating the poor with respect means enabling the poor to be the architects of change in their communities rather than imposing solutions on them. Working with the poor involves building relationships that lead to mutual change. 

We object to any use of the word 'development' that implies that some countries are civilised and developed while others are uncivilised and underdeveloped. This imposes a narrow and linear economic model of development and fails to recognise the need for transformation in so-called 'developed' countries.  While we recognise the value of planning, organisation, evaluation and other such tools, they must be subservient to the process of building relationships, changing values and empowering the poor. Work with the poor involves setbacks, opposition and suffering. But we have been inspired and encouraged by stories of change. In the midst of seeming hopelessness we have real hope.  Our vision is Christ.  The vision works itself out in the here and now and changes everything: spiritual and physical.  

We got married in Devon in 2008, just after Emma had finished her degree in Politics and International Relations at university. We then moved to Hertfordshire for Sean to begin his Biblical & Intercultural Studies with International Development degree at All Nations, while Emma worked in the non-profit sector for a few years, before finally doing the 'En Route' course at college.  It was great fun and we met some amazing people! But we're still learning, and will always be learning and training.  This is because we’re fallible, imperfect people who make mistakes, and God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul, body and mind.  

What we do:

In 2012 and part of 2013, the small but beautiful landlocked East African country of Rwanda was our home while we worked with the Rural Development Interdiocesan Service (RDIS) a Christian relief and development agency and Tearfund partner staffed by Rwandans and based in Muhanga (Gitarama). 

I (Sean) was working as the assistant coordinator helping the current coordinator and the team at RDIS in many of the everyday running aspects of the organisation; from sourcing donors and writing proposals, to creating and maintaining working partnerships, as well as helping survey families currently supported by RDIS about changes in their standards of living.  I was also Project Manager (in an intern capacity) for a poverty alleviation and prevention project in twenty-one villages in south-west Rwanda using funding from the Scottish Government. Development interventions included disaster risk reduction, environmental protection through soil erosion control, improved food security through training in effective agricultural techniques, and improved sanitation and hygiene.   

Emma was teaching and helping to manage a local school for young children, helping to provide not only a valuable resource of education but a safe, loving and caring environment for the children. 

When my internship with RDIS came to an end and I had trained up a Rwandan national to take over the running of the project (it was always my goal to ‘work myself out of a job’ and empower nationals to take ownership), the time came to decide how to build on my experience and take it forward.

I have seen the needs as well as the great assets in Rwanda where the vast majority of people eke out a living in subsistence farming (around 90%) and the great potential that exists for people to lift themselves out of poverty and malnourishment through sustainable agricultural practices and small-scale rural business enterprise.

Ultimately I have seen that the local church has a great role to play in empowering people to be radical disciples of Christ and architects of change in their own communities, in partnership with the advocacy role of the global Church needed to affect large-scale change for the poor and vulnerable.

After all...

‘What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God’ - Micah 6:8

‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen?  To loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke; to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?’ - Isaiah 58:6

‘But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word and talk but in deed and in truth’ 1 John 3:17-18

We returned in January 2016.

For more information or to get involved please visit their website: www.lawsonsinrwanda.com