News from the Lutherische Kirchenmission (LKM) – Teaching Luther’s Catechisms in Rwanda
From Monday the 16th to Friday the 20th of April 2018 I had the fascinating opportunity to teach a course on Luther’s Catechisms, give a short insight into the liturgy of the Lutheran Sunday service and attempt a short introduction into the Augsburg Confession in a very rural part of the East province of Rwanda.
A group of pastors had contacted the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (LCSA) and the Lutherische Kirchenmission (LKM) about theological courses. I am very grateful, that the LKM asked me to go. I was supposed to go together with Bishop Maragelo from the LCSA, but he ended up not going.
This being my first trip to Rwanda, I was very excited. The country is very clean. I hardly saw any rubbish. Plastic bags are forbidden, that already makes a big difference. Motorcycles are used as taxis for short distances. Many people use bicycles as a means of transport for themselves and for heavy loads (bananas, sugarcane, avocados etc.). They have cattle with extremely large horns. The climate allows people to plant and harvest twice in a year. The whole country was a lush green from all the small scale farming. Peanuts, sweet potatoes, madumbis, sugarcane, rice, beans, maize, cassava roots are all planted, and made everything look wonderful. Many people, so I was told, live off the land, this being especially the case in the rural area in which I taught the group of thirteen pastors and preachers taking part in the course.
Language was a major issue. Only one of the pastors, Jean Claude Maniragaba, could speak English. He had previously studied Theology in Uganda and helped us by translating my English into Kinyarwanda, and their Kinyarwanda into English. Most of the week we spent on the Catechisms. I enjoyed their fascination, excitement and participation in the studies very much. From 08h00 in the morning up until 16h30 in the afternoon we learnt, discussed and took notes on Luther’s masterpiece which is the Catechism. We started every new chapter with passages from scripture and then moved to the short text of the Small Catechism. We could have done this over two weeks, but obviously had to move quite quickly.
Because pastor Jean Claude asked me to teach them about liturgy we added a short session on our Divine Service. In the session, we discussed how God serves us and we serve him and each other in the Sunday Service. Using our Lutheran Liturgy as I know it from the LCSA, the FELSISA and the SELK, I gave a short introduction to why we do what we do on a Sunday in church.
We ended the course with an introduction into the Augsburg Confession. We managed to touch on the first 21 articles of the Confession, spending quite a long time translating the headings of the articles into Kinyarwanda. To me, this was a fascinating exercise looking for the best word for each article, but I also noticed the big challenge that it brings to work via a translator. I think it would be very good if pastor Jean Claude Maniragaba could study Theology in Pretoria, so that he could learn Lutheran Theology from Lutherans.
I am very grateful for having been given this opportunity by the LKM and hope it will not be the last time I can visit and teach Lutheran Theology in Rwanda.
Missionary Peter Weber, Umhlangeni