Planting Roots Takes Courage

I try to begin each day with the morning prayer from Common Prayer. This liturgy has become a vital part of my daily rhythms over the last year, offering peace to my morning and a solid foundation for my day. This prayer from a few months ago was, amazingly enough, the prayer on my one year anniversary of arriving in Rwanda:

“Root us in a place, Lord: that we might find our home in you.”

I have struggled over the last year to know how to lay down roots in this place. In the two years before moving to Rwanda I had lived a somewhat transient life, different jobs and life circumstances caused me to be in a new place every few months. I had gotten used to the rapid pace and constant change of scenery, so settling down—standing still—in one place had started to make me feel antsy.

“Lord, to be rooted in place takes commitment to the land, to people, to friends and family, to transients in our community, and to the plight of our neighborhoods. Being rooted is no easy task, but you demonstrated such rootedness in your incarnation. Give us courage to take up the hard task of knowing you while standing in place.”

Just after the New Year, I made a covenant with our tiny community—something that some of our WMF communities around the world do as a way to commit to each other and to serving Jesus among the poor. As we sat together on the floor of my living room around a candle and the San Damiano cross that I received at my commissioning, I committed to this place, to these people, to the struggles of our neighborhood. To celebrate the small joys, and to walk with others in brokenness and suffering. To gather up all of my courage and stay in this place, and to “trust in the slow work of God”.


Shelbye Renfro

WMF Rwanda Field Director