How did they ever think of it? Cutting the Bible Basics Course into 40 parts and sharing one each day during Lent in a WhatsApp group. The daily message was a ‘ray of light from heaven’ in Rwanda.
Normally, churches in Rwanda hold meetings every day (!) during the 40 day Lenten period leading up to Good Friday, but that wasn’t possible this year because of Covid. The pandemic is leaving deep wounds in African countries: poverty is increasing, people are suffering hunger, and the churches have been closed for almost a year. It is almost impossible to visit each other. It is truly a time of sober introspection.
WhatsApp Discussion Groups
The evangelization department from the churches still wanted to be able to reach people. When they were thinking of how they could do that, there was an on-line conference available about WhatsApp Listen and Discussion groups. They immediately saw that as a possibility that God was giving them to encourage people with something meaningful during the 40 days of Lent.
With a sense of urgency, they set about making the necessary preparations. They trained discussion leaders on-line, since they were not allowed to meet in groups due to Covid restrictions.
Large numbers sign-up
How did that actually work? Martin, a missionary there, tells, ‘In the morning we shared an audio Bible passage and an explanation with the discussion leaders via WhatsApp. Then in the evening it was discussed in the groups. We used the GlobalRize Bible Basics Course that we had translated into Kinyarwanda as the basis for the topics.’
There were eight regional WhatsApp groups that were set up, and they expected about 20 members per group to sign-up. They were very surprised when more than 850 people wanted to join!
‘People were happy to be in contact; it gave a feeling of connectedness,’ tells Martin. ‘They also said that they learned a lot and were fed by the Bible. Just as in a regular meeting, each discussion time was started with prayer. Sometimes a song was shared. Afterward there were lively discussions about the topic of the day within the WhatsApp groups. After two hours, an end came to the discussion and there was a closing prayer. Everyone was so enthusiastic that they came back to participate the following day.’
Continuing after Lent
And not only that, the participants indicated that they wanted to continue with these WhatsApp groups. Could this be a good way for churches here to reach people and keep them involved? What a beautiful example from our African brothers and sisters in Christ.