Two years ago, the Center for Online Evangelism (COE) partnered with Impact Hope to provide educational and career-training opportunities to Congolese refugees in Rwanda. Here are the amazing ways God has answered prayers and led this ministry forward.
Thousands of Adventist Refugees Remain in Rwandan Camps. Here’s How You Can Help.
Imagine what life would be like if you had no options.
“It was difficult to grasp the type of life and conditions [the Congolese refugees] live with—mostly mud huts with tin roofs, no running water, very little food. And no opportunities to change their situation,” observed an Impact Hope volunteer.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Yet, though a quarter of a century has passed, the ramifications of the mass slaughter continue to affect the Congolese individuals and families forced into refugee camps.
Today, there are still more than 60,000 Seventh-day Adventist refugees trapped in camps throughout Rwanda with little hope of gaining an education. This means no employment, and no way out.
But for the families of 14 refugees—and soon to be many more—there is a solution.
The Center for Online Evangelism (COE), partnering alongside Impact Hope, continues its program to teach refugees to become online missionaries.
This idea to first came to Ed Wagner, COE’s executive director, over two years ago when he met Impact Hope’s founders Hans and Mindy Thygeson. He was impressed with how Impact Hope was sponsoring students to attend Adventist boarding high schools.
Then he wondered what could be done to help these students continue their education for employment. Wagner met with the Thygesons, explained his idea, and they got to work.
Now, COE sponsors 14 students with a high interest in the field of digital marketing and excellent screening test scores. The students are in their second year at the Adventist University of Central Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.
Along with their university studies, the students are also enrolled in an online English school founded by Richard Carrigan.
In 2015, Carrigan retired from 40 years of teaching English as a second language and decided to “develop an online school with the purpose of teaching English for evangelism.” When Carrigan heard of the Rwanda project, he was quick to contact Wagner and offer enrollment in the online program.
This 32-week program will help students master academic reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in English.
The students are diligently studying while keeping in mind the goal for this project: to complete higher education and use it not only to become eligible to work for COE projects, but also to free their families from the refugee camps.
One of the students, Philemon Iransubije, 22, said, “I will do my best and succeed so that I get strength to help brothers and sisters from camp.”
Most of the students have been in the camps for 6 years—one even for 12 years. But thanks to this program, they have a newfound hope for life outside the camps.
Another student has a very specific dream. Patrick Mwiseneza, 22, aspires to help fight against “poverty, to become a successful businessman, and to serve Project Caleb and the Almighty Lord Jesus”—all while pursuing a PhD.
Through their education, these 14 refugee students will be able to expand COE’s evangelistic efforts to the church in Africa. The dream is to be the spark that continues the education and transformation of what might otherwise be unrealized potential.
Reflecting on the progress made over the last few years, both COE and Impact Hope recognize the hand of God at work and are thrilled with the results.