I wanted to include what the new Rwandan laws actually say, so that you can have an understanding of how many of the statements need more clarity:
"CHAPTER IV: PREACHER AND PLACE OF SERMON
Article 22: Requirements for being a preacher
A preacher must:
1° be of majority age;
2° be a person of integrity;
3° fulfil the requirements of an organization for being a preacher at that level;
4° possess a statement testifying that an organization authorizes him/her to be a preacher;
5° not have been definitively sentenced to a principal penalty of imprisonment equal to or exceeding six (6) months which was never removed by amnesty or rehabilitation;
6° not have been definitively convicted of the crime of genocide, genocide ideology, discrimination or sectarianism;
7° possess a degree of a higher learning institution in religious studies or any other degree with a valid certificate in religious studies related matters delivered by a recognized institution."
Reading the requirements leaves several questions: What is considered a “valid certificate”? What is a “recognized institution”?
Nevertheless, even though the statements are vague, the standard of education that this law sets for pastors is extremely difficult for the majority of pastors to be able to accomplish, especially in four years. It is believed that about 10% of pastors have completed a high school education. In order for them to receive a theological degree, they first have to finish a high school education. In the United States, we have a GED program for those adults wanting to finish high school, but in Rwanda, there is not a program that offers the same kind of opportunity for these pastors. For those pastors who do have a high school degree, the challenge is for them to be able to afford or have time to complete the certification needed. In order to obtain this certification, they also need Bible resources in Kinyarwanda, which are few and far between.
The challenge becomes even more concerning when you realize that if the pastors that Rwanda Challenge has been working so hard to teach do not have the education needed in four years, these pastors will no longer be able to lead and preach in their churches.
Rwanda Challenge has options for how to help the pastors reach the necessary education standards, but they come with seemingly impossible hurdles. As we discussed the options and the possibility of meeting with Rwandan government leaders for answers, it is very evident that prayer is necessary. If a solution is not found, in four years, it appears that only 5% of pastors in Rwanda will be able to continue preaching. We certainly agree with the government that Biblical education and training is vital for a Church pastor–for that is indeed the reason why we are here–but how can we make this possible for them?
Will you pray with us that church leaders are able to have a reasonable and possible way to receive the Biblical education they need? Will you pray for the Rwandan government leaders that they will humbly submit to the will of God and offer wise guidance and decisions for the Rwandan churches? Will you pray for Rwanda Challenge that God will use Frank and Theophile to be a part of the solution?