HOW TO HELP
If you have an interest in helping Venantie Uwishyaka, a Rwanda native who holds two degrees from Hardin-Simmons University, with her family counseling ministry in Rwanda, contact her by phone or email. She will be in the United States until late October when she will return to Rwanda. Uwishyaka earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from HSU and was ordained in January 2017 at First Baptist Church. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 325-320-0971 while in U.S. or +250780361238 in Rwanda. She also can be reached through her Facebook page.
By Loretta Fulton
In December 2012, Rwanda native Venantie Uwishyaka earned a bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University, vowing to someday earn a master’s degree in family ministry and start a missionary training center in her homeland.
You can put check marks beside those two goals. She got the degree in December 2015 and has established her Family Life Ministry in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and another in northern Rwanda.
To make the Hardin-Simmons experience complete, two daughters earned bachelor’s degrees in May 2016, one in finance and one in economics, and both now are back in Rwanda. Uwishyaka also served a one-year internship with Logsdon School of Theology by working with African refugees in Abilene who have been resettled here through the International Rescue Committee.
When Uwishyaka began her ministry in Kigali, traveling back and forth to Logsdon while doing so, she mentored seven couples. She left them with a message:
“I mentored you, you have successful marriages,” she said, “now you owe me.”
Check that, too. When Uwishyaka returned to Rwanda 2013, after graduating in 2012, she discovered that 120 couples had been mentored by the original seven couples she trained.
“I know now this is where God wants me to focus,” she said.
The desire to make that happen longterm brought Uwishyaka back to Abilene in July to meet with old friends, professors, current and potential partners for her ministry. One of those partners is Trinity Baptist Church in Sweetwater. Four members, led by Derek Montgomery, visited in June and were met by a huge welcoming committee at the Kigali airport.
Another partner is First Baptist Church in Abilene, which provides some financial support, as well as prayer support.
“We’ve been very pleased to partner with her and the good work happening in Kigali,” said John Moore, pastor for missions at First Baptist.
Through partnerships, Uwishyaka wants to continue the mission work that led her to Abilene back in 2010. She had completed two years of higher education in Nairobi, Kenya, and was led to Hardin-Simmons by Baptist missionaries Stan and Marlene Lee, whose bravery still is revered in Rwanda because they chose to remain in the country after the 1994 genocide began.
Those were brutal years for Uwishyaka, who lost 28 family members in the mass slaughter. Those included one brother, one sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends.
The Lees now live in Fort Worth and Uwishyaka planned to visit them before leaving the United States.
Uwishyaka’s heart clearly is in missions. That desire to serve led her to Hardin-Simmons and that desire is leading her to reach out to as many potential partners as possible. A dream is that someday her daughters will use their HSU business degrees to help her.
Her ministry is interdenominational, despite her connections with Baptist missionaries, institutions, and churches. She grew up Anglican in Rwanda.
“I will be serving any church that wants to help,” she said.
One thing Uwishyaka is certain about is that her work is in her home country. She travels to the United States as often as possible, but with no thoughts of moving her ministry here. The United States already has many opportunities for families to seek counseling.
Uwishyaka believes that a strong church begins with a strong family and that is why she is focusing on strengthening families. She is needed in Rwanda for that work, she said, not in the United States. She knows because that is where God is directing her.
“I know he called me to help my people,” she said. “I have no doubt.”