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.
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.
For the message of the crossisfoolishness 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!
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
“I am the way the truth and the life!” John 14:6
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!
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!
And the prayerofferedinfaithwill 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!
It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” Romans 14:11NIV
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.
Happy Easter from our family to yours! Eliza (4mo), Zeb (4), Ella (7), Esther (2), Andria and Todd.
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!
Pastor Lambert shares the remarkable story of Danatha:
Nyirakadeheri Danatha is her name; but we address her “Mukecuru” as a
respectful name for the elderly. She has been blessed to grow older as her age
has far passed life expectancy in Rwanda [64.52 years (2015)]. Mukecuru does not
remember well how old she is, but tracing it from history; he might be above 80.
She knows about the death of King Yuhi V Musinga (1944) and how he was taken
to Kilembwe Congo passing by Kamembe (1931). She also knows about the reign
of King Mutara III Rudahigwa (Successor of Musinga) and the first Republic (1961).
Mukecuru is so thankful to God who has kept her life until this far. “I have seen
many people go; young and old”: I survived all wars that took place in Rwanda
(1959, 1963, 1990 and 1994). I want to believe that there is a reason why God
preserved me. It’s to testify of His goodness! “God loves me” this is her sigh every
time; while talking with her! And she would sing: “Jesus loves me this I know, … I
am so glad that Jesus loves me, …! Though she has also lost all teeth, Mukecuru is
never ashamed to smile as she claims; she’s got every reason to stay happy.
Mukecuru is still strong in the Lord; she walks 3 kilomiters (one way) coming to
Church every Sunday and Saturday (for prayers). Unbelievable! Seeing her with a
walking stick, one wouldn’t think her steps can ever make such a long distance! I
asked her how she chose to fellowship with us at Joy Christian Church: “I started
attending cell group meetings at Birembo (Mpanga). With prayers and fellowship;
I felt revived again as I had stayed for many, many years without that experience. I
used to go to a protestant church before the 1990s. When we divorced with my
first husband and my second died, I felt disappointed and discouraged. I lost hope
and it was like God had abandoned me.
The cell leader (Mugwiza Emmanuel) has been so supportive. May God bless him;
he helped me get up again. When I came for the first time to Joy Christian Church,
I appreciated everything I found there. I continued attending church services until I
made the greatest decision ever: December 24, 2017 was one of my biggest days!
Want to know what happened? “I was baptized”! I want to rectify and surrender
my life to Jesus before I go into the grave. This God that has been so good to me, I
want to see Him. I want heaven, I want eternal life and that’s what I wish for each
and everyone who has followed Jesus Christ. So help us God!