SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: Revolutionary love in East Africa

Rev. Ed Hird and his wife Janice spent much of May speaking about their lessons in marriage at a large convention and also to leaders in Rwanda.

We bring you greetings from the Solace Retreat House in Kigali, Rwanda.

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Revolutionary Love (John 3:16) was the theme of the five-day Healing for the Nations convention in Rwentobo, Uganda, attracting 25,000 delegates from many African nations and around the world.

There were many speakers and music groups from Rwanda, Kenya, Congo, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, and North America.

We spoke daily about how revolutionary love can transform one’s present or future marriage. We taught from Ephesians 5 about love and respect.

Our new book For Better, For Worse, was the basis of our marriage talks.

We encouraged thousands of couples to strengthen their marriages through rediscovering each other’s hidden strengths, celebrating each other’s differences, valuing the gift of conflict, and balancing closeness and personal space.

We shared that marriage is a dance of intimacy in which we need to regularly learn new dance steps. Marriage is not about settling down but rather about embracing a bold adventure walking together into the often unpredictable future. In a wedding, one makes a “for better, for worse” commitment to one’s partner, come what may. We shared many humorous and sometimes embarrassing stories about challenges we have faced in our 41-year marriage.

Many couples at the convention came forward to renew their commitment to their marriage. Others made first-time commitments to finally tie the knot after many years of relationship. In many parts of Africa, paying a “bride price” to one’s future in-laws may involve many cows, making marriage seem financially unreachable. I was reminded that we in Canada sometimes make a wedding, reception and honeymoon so expensive that some young people see marriage as out of reach. I have often married young couples in living rooms or in parks to make weddings more affordable.

After Uganda, we then taught a three-day marriage workshop to key leaders in the Northern Rwandan city of Byumba. You may remember that we previously taught about marriage seven years ago in Rwanda. The hospitality and receptivity by the Rwandan delegates was memorable. It is so encouraging to teach people who are hungry to learn and grow. Our future is about healing marriages.

Ed is praying for a successor after 31 years as the rector of St. Simon’s. This will enable us to spend more time writing books and speaking at marriage and renewal conferences. Please join us in prayer for just the right successor.

As we write this article, we are preparing to teach marriage seminars in the Kigali capital and Kibungo in Eastern Rwanda. We are looking forward to seeing many more marriage transformed through revolutionary love.

Rwanda, having suffered so deeply in the 1994 genocide, is very open to the message of Jesus’s love and forgiveness for all. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts. ■

Rev. Ed Hird has been the rector at St. Simon’s Church, 420 Seymour River Pl., since 1987. stsimonschurch.ca.

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