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How ‘My Father, Maker of Trees’ was born

Orphans_near_RwamaganaMeeting Eric Irivuzumugabe

During our first trip to Africa in the winter of 2005, I was sitting in a makeshift conference room with over a hundred orphans from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. We were in Rwamagana; it was hot and the hotel waitress had just finished handing out bottles of Fanta to each of the young men and women sitting in anticipation of some sort of message from the Muzungu. The Muzungu was me. Quite unprepared I rose to my feet, desperately asking the Lord what to say to these traumatized children, without parents, without support, most without hope. What did I have to offer? I didn’t have enough money to pay for the trip home much less food or school fees for even a handful of them. Literally as I was standing I heard the Lord ask me, “Do you have a lunch?” Yes, I thought. I have a lunch. “You give me your lunch and I’ll feed 5,000.” The Bible story in Matthew where the boy gives his lunch of loaves and fish and Jesus fed the multitude with it came to mind.  So I stood there and told the orphans honestly “I don’t have school fees, medical supplies, food, and clothing.” I was not a rich Muzungu as they may had been hoping or believing. But I told them “I have a lunch; a lunch like the small boy in the Bible who had two loaves and five fishes. A lunch like some of you may have today. If I give Jesus my lunch he can feed 5,000. If you give Him your lunches He could feed 5,000 more and 5,000 more and 5,000 more. I am here to ask you to rise up with me to help restore Rwanda, to obey God in our small things so that He can use them and do big things. Will you give to the Lord what you have, as little as it may be, so that He can do a great work in Rwanda? He needs you. He needs me. He needs anyone who is willing to say yes and give what they have to Him. In doing so, He can and will restore Rwanda.” An odd thing happened then. They jumped to their feet in a loud roar with clapping and yelling in affirmation. They were tired of empty promises from westerners, they were hungry to feel useful and wanted and needed. As I took my seat and made way for the host to speak I heard the Lord again, “You see that man?” He asked. It was Eric, the man who was hosting the meeting. Eric is an orphan from the genocide himself who turned around and began to assist and love and father these hundreds of orphans I was seeing before me. “Give this man your lunch.” I didn’t know what “my lunch was” at that moment but I knew that God would show me.

EricAndJoieInterview with Irivuzumugabe

When I returned to the room where we were staying I took some time to pray about what this “lunch” could be. In the way the Lord speaks to me prophetically He said Eric’s testimony would be written and made into a book and that somehow I was going to be instrumental in making that happen if I would agree to the sacrifice and obey Him. I had no idea how such a thing was done but I did realized that I would need to hear Eric’s story to begin.  So I contacted him and asked him to come to our apartment, sit down and share with me his story. When he came we discussed at length what the Lord was sharing with us both about how God wanted to use his story to impact the world. He also told me how he survived the genocide and what God had done to bring him to where he was today.  It was one of the most inspirational testimonies I had ever heard. I asked my husband, Douglas, to take a picture of us speaking to each other that afternoon as a sort of marker of the prophecy because I could tell that this day was going to be important and that God was going to do what He was telling me He would do.

Prophecy Fulfilled: My Father Maker of the Trees

In that same week we returned home to the U.S. and I received a call from my Pastor who had recently reconnected with a friend of his from seminary. Her name was Tracey Lawrence and she had become a famous Christian writer for many big named Christian authors. The Pastor had spoken to her about me and asked if she would be willing to write a book about the miraculous healing and vision that I had had earlier that year. When he told me all about his conversation it was clear to me that this was my “lunch” that I could give to the Lord. It was something small given to me that I could turn around and allow God to use as He saw fit. My_Father_BookI called Tracey right away and told her all about Eric and the orphans and how God was asking me to have his book written. She was excited and in time took the project. Tracey, Eric and I worked on the book for over a year. Baker Publishing House took the project as soon as it became available and published the book the following September. The title is “My Father, Maker of the Trees, “How I Survived the Rwandan Genocide,”” it was released September, 1 2009. From one small sacrifice of something that was not earned but given to me like most of our lunches, came a book that will feed thousands the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This book has and will make access to donations that will feed and clothe and school thousands of Rwandan orphans. It also teaches people in a number of places in the world about extreme forgiveness, hope, and the power of Jesus Christ when we give to Him our small and seemingly insignificant lunches. In 2010 “My Father Maker of the Trees” was made into an audio version and the following year translated into Portuguese and released in Brazil. That same year it was published in paper back and made available online for notebooks and Kindles. [youtube id=”2yuA9yTsFP8″ width=”600″ height=”350″]


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