Blog Category: Todd’s Blog From Rwanda

Double Your Impact

By Jon Coughlin,

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” 1 Samuel 2:6 

God is a good provider for the needs and cares of his children. Through City of Joy’s vocational training school He has been providing an opportunity for young men and women to gain skills that can set them on a path out of poverty. We are happy to announce that at the end of August our latest sewing school class will be graduating. We want to invite you to celebrate with them with a unique opportunity to launch them into their new careers. 

These students have big dreams but there are still some barriers in the way. While they now have the sewing skills they need, they don’t yet have sewing machines. A sewing machine costs $100 and we have 24 students graduating in just a few weeks. Today we are launching a sewing machine campaign with the goal of raising $2,400. The great news is that we have a donor who will match donations to this campaign dollar for dollar until we reach our goal. 

Let’s join God as he raises these young women up and launches them with everything they need on their path out of poverty.

These students are full of hope and dreams for what is ahead. “I’m 19 years old and I live with my mom and three younger siblings. My father has been in prison since I was ten. Since then I’ve been helping my mother take care of my family. After I finished primary school, my mother couldn’t afford to send me to secondary school. Attending sewing school has given me an opportunity to continue my education and will equip me with a skill that will help me to provide for my family. My aunt is a seamstress in Kigali and one day I hope to own a small sewing business like her. My faith in Christ gives me joy because I know that God saved me and made me part of his nation. It gives me hope and helps me during hard times.”

“I completed nine years of basic education at Katanga Secondary School and joined the City of Joy sewing program. After graduation I would like to train mothers in my village in order for them to support their families.”

“I am glad to be in City of Joy’s sewing program. After graduation I would like to open a business in Ruhango and start selling uniforms to different schools.”

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

The Mission Continues

By Jon Coughlin,

Greeting Friends and Partners, 

Though we are in a new season of transition, we are happy to tell you that City of Joy continues to make disciples in Rwanda. God passionately loves the children and families of Gatagara and He cares deeply about the poverty they live in. We remain committed to elevating them out of poverty through education in Jesus’ name. 

Unless you have been to City of Joy, you cannot understand the full extent of the ministry that Todd and Andria began. Gatagara is a very poor village. Many children are too poor to afford the uniforms and fees needed to attend public school, and some do not receive more than one meal per day at home. Todd and Andria launched Joy Christian School so that these families can have access to an education that has the potential to change their community’s future. They began a sewing school to make school uniforms and to give adults in the neighborhood skills to launch their own businesses, or find employment in the city. They also started a farm to feed the children of the school and it employs 2 dozen men and women from the village. Then, they helped to launch Joy Christian Church to make disciples in the community beyond the reach of the school. Todd, Andria, and their kids were faithful servants and have forever impacted Gatagara. 

Transition equals change, and it has been a challenge to continue without the Ellingson’s leadership. However, the idea for City of Joy was never solely theirs. It originated with God and it remains His ministry today. In a remarkable way, He has provided exactly what is needed to continue to educate, feed, and employ this village that He loves so much. Todd and Andria poured their lives into the teachers and staff of City of Joy and now, in their absence, they are thriving in their new leadership roles. There have been many adjustments and we know that many more are to come, but we trust God to lead City of Joy into a bright new season of ministry. 

While Todd and Andria were in Rwanda they were a tangible expression of God’s love for Gatagara. They were also expressions of your love. You also have been critical to the launching and developing of City of Joy. You have given your friendship to the children and teachers, your words of encouragement, your sponsorship and gifts, and your prayers. They impact our children right now! They will continue to impact them into eternity. Thank you! God continues to work in Rwanda, and He continues to invite you to join Him. Please keep praying. Please keep giving. Please keep coming to Gatagara. 

Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

City of Joy Rwanda

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

Transition Time!

By Anna Nyhart,

Dear Ministry Partner,

After several months of prayer and reflection, the Ellingson family is preparing to take some extended time away from Rwanda! We will briefly return to Rwanda from Arizona on January 15th as part of a transition plan created in conjunction with our Board of Directors, in order to help support the leadership succession process.

We are humbled and honored at how God has used us to start and build an incredible school and ministry rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, it is time to see who He has called to lead during this next season of City of Joy’s growth. Our Board of Directors is already interviewing potential candidates and we ask that you pray for all involved as it is determined who will assume our responsibilities.

We have appreciated everyone’s prayers and financial support beyond what words can express – thank you so much!  Please continue to believe in the vision of “making disciples of all nations” in Rwanda via City of Joy. The Lord has done amazing work in the lives of the children and families, and in the communities Joy Christian School and Joy Christian Church have served and continue to serve. Yet, we believe with your continued support the best is yet to come!


Please keep an eye out for a message from our Board of Directors in the next few days. You all will continue to remain in our prayers. May we, and City of Joy remain in yours.


Todd Ellingson

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

October Prayer Requests

By Anna Nyhart,

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Cor. 1:18
The cross lights up at night and shows our neighborhood a witness to the power of God through Jesus! We live in the shadow of the cross in all we do at City of Joy Rwanda.

Please continue to pray as our family is in the states until January 15th.
1. Pray that our time in North Dakota is fruitful and that our two oldest children enjoy their time at the public school in kindergarten (Zeb) and 1st grade (Ella). Pray for Zeb as he takes speech classes to help him pronounce sounds better.
2. We travel to Arizona November 7th. Pray for warmth! lol
3. Pray that we receive new sponsorships for students at Joy Christian School. We have around 100 students needing to be sponsored.
4. Pray that as we present to various churches and groups that the gospel of Jesus would be at the forefront of what we say!
5. Pray for our leadership team in Rwanda that they would lead well in our absence.
6. Pray for our marriage that we would find refreshment in our time in the states and that we would grow in our love for one another and in Jesus!


  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

Heading to the States!

By Anna Nyhart,



I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

Our family is traveling state-side for 4 months September 17th – January 15th. Please keep us in your prayers. Here is our speaking schedule. Please message us if we can come and share with your church or group.

September 17th Arrive in Grand Forks, ND
Sunday, Sept. 23rd – Petersburg/Dahlen Lutheran Church
Sunday, Sept. 30th– Verndale & Hewitt Methodist Church
Sunday, Oct. 7th – Trinity Lutheran, Crookston, MN
Sunday, Oct. 14th– St. Paul’s Lutheran, Crookston
Sunday, Oct. 21st – Roseau Evangelical Covenant Church/Lake Bronson Covenant
Sunday, November 4th, Sandhill Lutheran, Climax, MN
Nov. 7th, fly to Arizona
Friday, Sat. Nov. 16/17 Eastern Christian Conference, Hershey, PA
Sunday, Nov. 18th, Bloomsburg Christian Church, PA

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

Prayer Update

By Anna Nyhart,

“I am the way the truth and the life!” John 14:6
Prayer/Praise report:
We thank God for Southwood Baptist Church, Tulsa OK for their team of 17 who are here to serve for the next 2 weeks!
We also thank God for the MacAuthur’s and Alyson who are also with us serving!
We had an interesting time with airport customs getting school supplies through with the team without paying taxes. Our Principal, Michel, did a great job on the phone convincing customs that we serve the poor in a remote village and are not in it making money!
Saturday most of our guests travel to Akagera National Park to see the wildlife.
Please life up our corporate worship time on Sunday at Joy Christian Church as our guests will be helping with worship.
Pray for complete recovery for our church volunteer who was slightly injured today.
Please pray for our students’ families who are struggling to put food on the table.
Pray that the Great Commission will continue to drive us to share Jesus and make mature followers of Him!

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

Prayer Request!

By Anna Nyhart,

Northwest Christian School in Phoenix was here with a team of 20 educators and students. What a blessing to our teachers and students!

Here are the prayer requests:

1. That our community would use what Northwest Christian School staff/students shared to build God’s Kingdom!
2. Pray for our next group from Bloomsburg Christian Church in PA as they arrive on Monday!
3. That making disciples for Jesus will always be at the heart of our school and church!
4. That our school will be accredited by the government soon!
5. God’s timing as we aim to be a private christian boarding school!
6. For more sponsors for our children as we have over 100 students who are unsponsored now. The government required our school to expand quickly this year and we need more sponsors!
7. We thank God for all those who pray for us regularly!

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

Prayer Update May 11th

By Anna Nyhart,

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. James 5:15

Thank you for praying! You are making a difference in the lives of our neighbors through your prayers. Here are some updates in need of prayer:

Praise God that a young man in our church surrendered his life to Jesus and gave up witchcraft!

Pray for the 28 leaders and Pastor Bob from Gilbert, AZ as they meet together to grow closer to God! Bob is part of the Global Training Network (GTN). He and his colleagues are in the middle of a 3 year training of our local leaders to help them in their ministries! The fruit is already showing in changed lives!

Praise God that 30 sewing machines were donated (we only asked for 15)! Class started on Monday. May Jesus draw these students to Him as they learn a new trade!

Construction started on 2 classrooms, cafeteria and kitchen for our school. Thanks be to God for the grant from Grand Canyon University!

Pray for our teachers that they would stay fed in God’s word so they could lead their students to Jesus!

Pray for our school’s certification that will happen sometime in June!

Pray for Eliza (6mo), Esther(2), Zeb(4) and Ella(6) that they will follow Jesus all their lives!

Pray for our student Gorette who is very sick and we are sending her to the doctor today!

Pray for our board member Jeff whose body is full of cancer! 

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

Prayer Update

By Anna Nyhart,

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” Romans 14:11 NIV 

We had an incredible week of school and ministry! Thank you as you pray for City of Joy Rwanda in the following areas:

-That the new playground would be used to reach out to not only our students but the community.
-Travel mercies as the Kids Around the World team leaves Rwanda today after installing the playground.
-Opening of the new sewing classroom in May with a new class of  30 sewing students.
-$120/sewing machine needed for 15 sewing machines.
-God’s Word would continue to be proclaimed in all we do!
-Protection for our neighbors because of the huge rainfall amounts.

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda

Easter Prayer Update

By Anna Nyhart,

Happy Easter from our family to yours! Eliza (4mo), Zeb (4), Ella (7), Esther (2), Andria and Todd.

Prayer Points:
1. Continue to pray for our board member Jeff who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
2. Pray for our team from Kids Around the World as they arrive April 14th to install our commercial grade playground.
3. Hold up our teachers as they plan and study for the next 2 weeks during the term break.
4. Pray for our students and their families that they may know, trust and believe in the resurrected Christ!
5. Pray that all 220 students will have sponsors. As of right now we have 100 students fully sponsored at $80/month.
6. Pray for our newly expanded Board of Directors that they may lead from God’s heart!
7. Pray for our family that we would model to our children what it is to follow Jesus!

  Filed under: Todd's Blog From Rwanda