Pastor Shadrack Mutabazi’s group Shalom Christian Outreach is a church plant working towards affiliating with the CBWC. Shalom began in Winnipeg in 2010, but Pastor Shadrack’s story started long before then. Listen in as he shares some of that story:
How Did you Come to be a Church Planter in Winnipeg?
I am from the Fizi territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I got baptized in 1979, and was ordained Pastor in Presbyterian Church in Rwanda in 1998. I started my pastoral leadership to Rukara in Umutara Province as a Parish Reverend Pastor.
From 2005 to 2010, I was in exile in Uganda, where I opened a Church under the name of Shalom Christian Outreach. In pastoral leadership, I became aware of how ethnic conflict, regionalism and church conflicts result in ignorance. Ultimately the consequences lead to violence and war.
As a church leader I made an attempt to encourage survivors, victims and offenders of war to reconcile, because I believe that church leaders play a key role as ambassadors of reconciliation based on the foundation of the good news of Gospel.
I moved to Winnipeg with my family as refugees on 17 February 2010. After we arrived in Winnipeg, we began to meet with other immigrant families. After two months we began a new church, which continued the name of Shalom Christian Outreach. I have been pastoring Shalom since then.
What Elements of Ministry in Africa are you able to bring into the North American context?
I argue that the violence caused by ethnic conflict is physical, psychological, moral, and spiritual. For example, during my pastoral work, I handled several cases of women who have experienced sexual violence. I listened to three of women who experienced the genocide in Rwanda. One of the women was psychologically traumatized for remembering that she was raped in front of her daughter. The second woman became pregnant through rape so both her and the child were rejected by her family who named the boy “a son of killers.” The third individual was victim of sexually transmitted diseases and was infected with HIV/AIDS. All these people were widows, hopeless, depressed and desperate.
My personal interest is to bring healing to such wounded people who live with depression, hopelessness, exclusion and daily discrimination. My plan from my learning experience is to explore and create a new mutual responsibility in order to create empathy and restore wounded people, repair communities, rebuild families, and resolve conflicts around the world.
What Does Your Church Plant Look Like?
Our vision was to have a multinational church fellowship. The verse that inspired us was Ephesians 2.14: “For he is our peace. In his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is the hostility between us.” This means that in the Church of Jesus Christ there are no divisions of Africans, Caucasians, Latin Americans and Asians. We are meant to be one people in worship and witness.
Since June 2011 we have been holding Sunday afternoon gatherings at First Presbyterian Church. The congregation is largely made up of people from the Great Lakes area of Africa (Eastern DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi). We also have members that originally came from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Jamaica, Guyana, and Guatemala along with people born in Canada. On a typical Sunday our services are held in English, Kinyarwanda, Kinyamulenge, Swahili, Luganda, and French. Most members of the congregation are multi-lingual. However, everything is translated into English, which is the common language.
Our attendance fluctuates between 80-100 people: The refugee and new immigrant population in Winnipeg ebbs and flows. Many people have moved on to Edmonton or Calgary to seek employment. We maintain contact with them and receive them back with joy when they visit Winnipeg.
Shalom Christian Outreach emphasizes the importance of community in Christ and diversity of cultural expressions. We seek to emphasize our oneness as a single community in fellowship. Our other emphasis has been on theological education for immigrants and refugees. We have collaborated closely with Carey Theological College to begin a CMin. program in Winnipeg. We are grateful for this commitment of Carey and the CBWC.
If you would like to find out more about Shalom Christan Outreach or how to support them, contact Church Planting Coordinator Shannon Youell at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Heartland Regional Minister Mark Doerksen at email@example.com.
This article originally published in Making Connections, the monthly enewsletter of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada.