Rick Warren's 'Long-Term Relationship' with Rwanda

"You've heard the phrase, 'Don't give a man a fish, teach him how to fish,'" said Warren. "The P.E.A.C.E. plan, we take it a step further. Don't teach a man to fish. Teach him how to sell a fish. Here's what I mean by that. If you teach a man to fish, you produce a village of fisherman, they all go and they catch the same fish. They all sit on the side of the road and try to sell the same fish. There isn't enough market for the fish. So, they rot and they go home. In order to build an increasingly stable and vibrant economy in a village you have to specialize."

In the meantime, there is all the pain, all the need, and all the children. Can a pastor and his wife really bring about change in a country where tens of thousands of people were slaughtered in the churches?

"Anybody who is willing can be used to make a difference in the world," said Warren. "Why hasn't this been done really before, what we're doing with churches and government and business? Because it's hard and it takes time. We Americans are so impatient. We get in a hurry, we want to do it fast."

Kay Warren's Message of Hope

Although Warren is a tornado of a man, he would be the first to remind others that he doesn't work alone. His wife Kay is also instrumental. It was she who helped him start Saddleback, and six years ago it was Kay, inspired by a magazine article she read about AIDS orphans, who was first inspired to help in Rwanda.

"He has an amazing gift of faith that is a visionary gift," said Kay Warren of her husband. "But all visionaries, that is one of their unique characteristics, they are able to see things that aren't and call them as though they are. Rick has that gift. He can see what isn't in existence at the moment and yet has the faith to believe that it will."

She also finds humor in his ambitions.

"Oh goodness, I'm always trying to yank his feet back to earth," said Kay. "He always has these grand visions for this. Even when we were starting the church, I was saying 'Excuse me?' Someone has to take care of the kids. Someone has to plug in the coffee pot. We do have some details we have to take care of. But that's why we've been a great team."

They both believe Rwanda's churches hold the key to helping the people there. And after many years and many missteps, they feel they are now making progress.

"We have 60 volunteers and 30 pastors," said Rick Warren. "What have they been learning? First, how do you identify all the diseases. When is it malaria, yellow fever, typhus, measles and mumps and those kinds of things?"

Just More Missionary Work?

Warren acknowledges there are many in Rwanda that still have a lingering uneasiness about religion that stems back to the genocide.

"People were killed in churches," said Kagame. "In fact, it comes out very well when we see that people took shelter in churches, believing these were places of sanctity where they could take refuge and they would survive. Not only did people follow them there and killed them, church leaders collaborated to have them killed."

But Warren says there is still an important role for the church to play in Rwanda.

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