“‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these…you did for me.’” —Jesus
There are few moments where what we do has the potential to radically transform someone’s life. There are even fewer where that transformation is potentially large-scale, impacting thousands.
The Nkombo Island Project is one of these “moments.”
If you were at church on Sunday, you got to hear my friend Penny Felts tell her story of visiting this remote island in western Rwanda. She shared how she fell in love with this place and these kids and how what she saw changed her forever. She talked about what poverty and hunger looks and sounds like. And then, she started talking about a vision to help “the least of these” and transform an island! It was powerful, and if you weren’t there, you can catch it here.
It’s often funny how God works. I first visited Nkombo Island in December 2005 as part of a different church in a different city. Walking up the hill to the first village, kids surrounded me and grabbed my hands to walk with me. Just like Penny, it left a mark on me. Eight years and two churches later, we have the opportunity to partner with three other churches to radically impact this remote and impoverished place.
This is the opening statement from the Nkombo Island Project website:
The Nkombo Island Transformation Project (NIP) is a partnership of local churches that come together around a shared goal: to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of the residents of Nkombo Island, Rwanda.
Through financial and relational support, NIP works to provide this marginalized community with resources and opportunities that will enable the people to break free from the devastating cycle of poverty. In breaking down the barriers to physical and emotional health, we wholeheartedly believe that we will catalyze a new era of spiritual health throughout the island.
That about sums it up! As a church, our goal is to focus on a few things and do those with all our energy. Nkombo is one of those things. In the coming years, this is going to be our “ends of the earth.” We’re going to partner with the local church there. We’re going to visit with mission trips*, building relationships and actually meeting the very kids we are sponsoring! There are a million different needs worldwide…but this is one we can tackle. And since we’re so relationally connected, we know all the funds are going directly to the “least of these” who need it the most!!
I hope many of you will have the chance to visit Nkombo. If you do, I’m sure you’ll fall in love, just like Penny and I did. It’s a beautiful place, with even more beautiful people. But with the physical poverty of the island, they are definitely in the category Jesus was talking about. Helping them is the least we can do.
Jesus said that with God, all things are possible. Our local bishop in Rwanda thinks we can change this entire island in 3 years. I think he’s right!
*We’re shooting to have our first trip over Spring Break 2014. Let me know if you’re interested. It’s a limited trip: we can only take 10 people max. Any more is too much of a strain on our friends there.