MEET CORY SLOAN: he said yes to an opportunity and found his life forever changed.
What led you to want to serve in Rwanda?
A friend of mine was the director of a small non-profit ministry called Barnabas X, which was centered around ministering to isolated and unsupported missionaries. I went to Rwanda with him in 2013 to visit the director of RCRI which was in its infant stages at that time. I fell in love with the people, the country, and the mission of RCRI and never looked back. It was obvious from the beginning, and confirmed when my wife felt the same call, that it was not merely me falling in love with an exotic locale or with “mission-ing”, but a genuine placement from God that forever tied my family to Rwanda and to the people there. Jesus appears to us in the form of love between us and the Rwandans so intensely that it is undeniable.
Shortly thereafter I took over as director of Barnabas X. Within a few years, all of our efforts were concentrated in Rwanda and we made the decision to fold up Barnabas X and incorporate our efforts under Reach the Children of Rwanda International, where I currently serve on the USA Advisory Board as both Missions Coordinator and Web/Media Coordinator. The people we serve and serve alongside in Rwanda have transcended ministry partners and people that we minister to and have become family.
Since the dissolution of Barnabas X, ONE Church in South Carolina where we attend has picked up the banner and bought in 100% to Rwandan missions and still sends a team each year as well as support throughout the year.
While in Rwanda, you serve with Reach the Children of Rwanda International. What are some ways you see them making a difference in Rwanda?
Reach the Children of Rwanda International seeks to improve the lives of the rising generations of Rwandans through a holistic model: we satisfy physical needs such as medical care, insurance, clothing, housing, and food, as well as educational needs such as school fees, school enrollment, and school supplies, emotional needs such as social care and crisis management, and all of that is done under the umbrella of the Christian faith, teaching them the Bible and the love of Christ. We currently serve around 700 children and their families. Since the beginning of RCRI just 8 years ago, we have seen the first children who enrolled in the program complete school and they are all enrolled in university and are involved in giving back in some way through volunteer organizations and clubs. Over 50 families in the poorest community of Rwanda were able to stabilize their homes and purchase their own health insurance through our goat project, supplying breeding goats.
RCRI has also begun and opened a school in northern Rwanda called Nyabihu Christian Academy. When complete, all 700 of the children will live and study there, where they will be under the full-time physical and spiritual care of RCRI. At this time 300 are enrolled there as day students and are already performing at elite levels academically in their district.
We can see an incredible difference in these children, teaching them to lift themselves out of poverty without external aid through the means of education!
What did you learn through fundraising?
Fundraising is a crucial component of being part of our team. Not only is it vital to our being able to go, because our church is small and can not afford to pay for the trip, but it teaches the team members to work together and how to begin to sacrifice for the trip. There is a unique level of intimacy and trust that is built between team members by committing to fundraising. FTN shirts are a great way for people to dip their toes into fundraising, because they look and feel great and the designs sell themselves, so they are a huge lot successful way to get people started in fundraising and in telling people about the ministry and the trip.
Why do you think it’s important for people to serve internationally?
The obvious answer is because Jesus told us to. It wasn’t a request or a suggestion, but the final earthly commandment from our Lord, which should carry the most weight for us.
The less super-spiritual answer is because it’s so needed. The world is vastly larger than the average person can imagine, and the number of people in it who just need to feel loved is staggeringly huge. Every place I’ve ever been from urban centers to remote African villages, people just want to feel your love. While money is always needed (another commandment) there is no substitute for stepping out of your bubble of comfort and stepping into someone else’s bubble just to love them. There aren’t enough people doing that, and it’s nearly impossible to communicate the significance that it has for someone in a place like Rwanda to have an American who sacrificed time and money and comfort to stand on their doorstep, hold their hands, and pray with them. There’s just not enough of that and the need is so great.
What advice do you have for someone who has a desire to go but not the funds to make it a reality?
I’ve never had the funds to go. I don’t know that I ever will. But God has the funds, He is faithful, and He’s provided the funds through fundraising every time we’ve tried to go somewhere.
My advice is to step out in faith that He can and will provide, roll up your sleeves, and work the vineyard He already planted.
Fund the Nations has been a great way for us to do that, not only making an impact directly through selling the shirts and raising funds, but by the message in the shirts themselves pointing to Christ and Rwanda.