WMF Field History: Rwanda
After her time at university, Shelbye Renfro started as an intern in the WMF International Office. She knew world missions were the undertone of her story and that God had a unique plan, but the future seemed blurry to her at the time. After learning, exploring, and growing during her time as an intern, she had a unique opportunity to start a field in Rwanda. Shelbye knew everyone would think it was crazy—and it was crazy—yet, she knew it was a yes. There were no exact reasons or crazy signs; she just had a deep settled yes in her soul that she was to go to Rwanda to start a WMF International field.
In 2015, Shelbye took the leap to go to Rwanda. During her first couple of years, reality sunk in deep about world missions and that relationships and trust take time. Though there were hard days in establishing WMF Rwanda, the Lord continued to encourage and sustain Shelbye’s heart as she formed more relationships, built a little more trust, and began to see small steps move in the right direction.
The unique placement of sharing the Gospel to vulnerable people around the world takes time, courage, patience, grace, forgiveness, and a lot of prayer and support. Our WMF Rwanda field was covered in prayer, and thankfully, because of this, the field continued to grow. Shelbye and her friend Immaculee began a savings group for women in the community to learn effective and sustainable ways to manage their finances. At first, the women were timid, reserved, and unwilling to cooperate with the team. Heaviness grew on the field, thinking they would never break through the relational barriers built by the harmed and hurting people.
As time went on, the Lord softened hearts, opened minds, and built deep and meaningful relationships. Shelbye was blessed with Rwandan staff that can communicate with the women, giving them the access to know their stories, hardships, skills, and needs. The savings group has grown into a support system for these women and for other women like them in the community. They bring their burdens, successes, heavy hearts, and personal desires. Within the safety of this community, they learn that they have the power to manage their money, stand up for themselves, and support their family.
WMF Rwanda has also started Kundwa Collective, an enterprise that employs local women in the community to make jewelry to support themselves and their families. Jobs like these give women an education to grow in their career, opportunities to leave abusive relationships, and resources to put their kids in school or provide a healthy meal. There are still many hardships facing our fields around the world, but the beauty of these challenges gives us hope in the work God is performing in all our locations.
We are grateful for the work that WMF Rwanda does. At WMF, all our fields provide unique and divine opportunities to touch individual lives with the power of Jesus and transform situations that seem hopeless. We pray that we can continue to share the hope and love of Christ around the world.
About WMF Rwanda:
Since 2015, Word Made Flesh Rwanda has been serving women who have been experiencing the brokenness and vulnerability that comes with living in poverty in one of Kigali’s poorest neighborhoods. WMFR seeks to restore hope while equipping women with the tools and resources they need to thrive.
Shop Kundwa Collective here: https://www.kundwa.org