Friday, July 15, 2011


It is our honor to share this excellent word from our friend, Linda Cox. She and her husband Jim have been in missions since 1970 and are the grandparents of four beautiful adopted children. They have worked with students, executives, indigents and hurting people on three continents.  Their three children were always part of the team and participated in all the activities and adventures.  
In 1981, Jim and Linda, kids in tow, moved to Kenya.  It was there that they met Simon and Kedress Nziramakenga—Rwandan refugees.  A friendship was formed that has spanned three decades. When genocide devastated Rwanda, Linda and Jim went to Rwanda to visit their friends. The deepest sufferers in the aftermath of genocide were the children.  Today 80,000 children head households and one out of ten do not reach their fifth birthday.  One out of ten people in Rwanda are orphans.  Half of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS do not get treatment.
Linda's book, They Had To Run tells the remarkable story of two children separated from their families and brought up as orphans.  It is a story of hope and promise.  God's care for these two isolated children and his incredible plan to use them in a major way will encourage you to trust him and see what he will do--just like they did.  

"What was it like to be a child in Rwanda?"
The student body of a local private school in Atlanta filed in dutifully to their assigned pews for the Friday chapel service.  The children were very well-behaved; however, the crackle of “kid noise” —squirming bodies, rattling papers—created a low background rustling.  That is it did until Simon was asked the question, “What was it like to be a child in Rwanda?”  Simon answered with a description of the event that marked his life by saying, “While home alone, I smelled smoke, heard angry men screaming and saw the fire and weapons they held in their hands…”
Every person in the sanctuary was immediately riveted on Simon’s face.  The collective body language changed as each one gave rapt attention to the story he was telling.

"They were children.  War threatened their homes—their very lives. They had to run.  They were left to grow up as orphans, each separated from any family members—he in a group-home provided by a missionary and she, alone in the forest, moving from family to family."


God Provided for Them 
Even in their time as child refugees, God provided for them when there was no adult care.  He provided favor, benefactors and teachers.  He provided a growing relationship with Himself to comfort them and lead them toward His purposes.

"Then they were adults.  She was beautiful, graceful and passionate about serving others—especially children.  He was strong, visionary, tenacious, a trainer of men."

It was during this period of their lives that our families became friends. My husband called Kedress The African Queen because she carried herself with such confidence and poise.  The love they showed other refugees during this time was impressive.  Their leadership qualities were obvious even then.
Our respect for and enjoyment of them was unshakeable.  They were personally confident and competent.  They were easy to work with and never complained.  We knew they were refugees, but there was never a word about the hardships they had faced as children living as orphans.

How Could They Be So Whole, So Joyful, So Fun? 
Amazingly—there in that school assembly in America—I was hearing their story, along with the children, for the first time.  Honestly, I was shocked.  I’ve worked with many people, most of whom live their lives confined to a view that was formed in them by circumstances of their childhood.  How had Simon and Kedress escaped the usual self-imposed bondage?  How could what he was saying be true?  How could they be so whole?  …so joyful?  …so others-focused?  …so much fun?  

Then it came to me…of course…they really BELIEVE that their identities are in Christ! 
…not in the loss they had experienced of even the families they remembered.  They KNOW they are His, called according to His purpose and being conformed to Christ’s image!  (Romans 8:29)  They LOOK to the future and LIVE for the Kingdom!  Theirs is a powerful picture of tenacious choice to believe God rather than their experiences. (Click HERE to read another post on our blog about the freedom that comes from Renewing Your Mind.)

"Today, both are leaders and servants.  Together, they are making a huge difference helping to build restoration in Rwanda. They are Simon and Kedress Nziramakenga, church planters, film-makers, school administrators, ministry trainers and parents to many four grown biological children, nine adopted children and numerous foster children."

"Do It Again" In Our Children, Lord! 
In our church we say that a TESTIMONY is an INVITATION for God to do it again.  Simon and Kedress are a living testimony to God’s protection, healing, purpose, favor and commitment to them as his children. (read more of the story of Simon and Kedress, and/or purchase the book that tells their story and benefits the Good Shepherd Hospital for Children in Kigali, Rwanda, at

And God wants to do it again!  If you are the parent of an adopted child or you are an adopted child, you may be filled with uncertainty and doubt.  Even if your past is obscured and your future is hazy, know that God has a plan for you too.  No child could be more alone than Kedress was.  Even without a parent, GOD INTERVENED!  Remember, her testimony, along with Simon’s, are an invitation for God to intervene and fill your (your child’s) life with His presence and purpose.

Perhaps you doubt that you have the resources to live your life successfully.  Here’s the good news/bad news:  You don’t—God does!  2 Corinthians 3:5 says that God has MADE us adequate!  More than that, HE is adequate.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  (Jeremiah 32:17)

Adopted as Sons with FULL RIGHTS
Rest in the OTHER ADOPTION that every true believer has experienced.  It’s the adoption into God’s own family.  Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son…so that we may be adopted as sons with FULL RIGHTS.” (NET)

CLAIM YOUR FULL RIGHTS as His child.  Make Hebrews 2:13 your prayer, “And again, I will put my trust in Him.  And again, Behold, I and the children whom God has given me.”  (ASV)  Jesus is declaring His trust in God while He brings “the children who God has given me” before Him.  Follow His example!  Simple trust (confidence in) God’s word is the way Simon and Kedress received from God.  Trust will claim your full rights too! 

Lay down fear—choose tenacious trust!

To find out how you can join with Linda and Jim to build Good Shepherd Hospital for Children in Rwanda, the only one in the country, go to One Hundred Days.

*Paraphrased from my daughter, Kelli Sasser

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