On any given weekday, the spot is swarmed by about an average 250 people, a number which surges during weekends. People from as far as Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and the U.S.A, also visit once in a while. It’s open from 6am to 6pm.
THREE HUNDRED metres off Kigali-Rwamagana highway, just a kilometer after Remera suburb, a dizzying climb of a brown-dusty murram road with deep rain-dug trenches on both edges leads us to Masoro Hill. A lone-standing sign post with bold inscriptions “WELCOME TO KIGALI INTERNATIONAL PRAYER MOUNTAIN” ushers us forward to seemingly nowhere in particular. After a “hopeless” steady four minutes’ walk however, we catch sight of a huge assortment of cars parked right before a wooden rail fence.
Entrance into the hillside-patched enclosure reveals a quiet, expansive, well-manicured lush garden, peppered by small packs of human beings under short thorny trees, standing or seated with heads bowed; seemingly lost in intimate prayer. The place’s serenity is occasionally broken by sudden bursts of prayer and possession from Holy Spirit-gripped worshippers. The atmosphere precisely leaves one with an “apocalyptic” feel.
This is Kigali International Prayer Mountain, on the city outskirts, attached to the Restoration Church of Kimisagara, where hundreds of believers from different corners of the planet meet every day to have an intimate ‘conversation’ with God in silent solitude .
“This is the only spot in Kigali where one can shout at the top of their voice in prayer, without the fear of causing noise pollution,” observes one of the worshippers, Lacia Umutoni.
The idea was hatched by Apostle Yoshua. N. Masasu, in 1994 at the end of the Genocide, originally to act as a prayer sanctuary for devastated Genocide victims who were hungry for God’s solace.
The idea to start up a prayer haven of this kind however, first hit the Apostle in 1984 while In Congo Kinshasa, when he had a divine vision. “God wondered why of all Rwanda’s a thousand hills, I hadn’t secured one for his worship”, he reveals. So this, coupled with the post-genocide circumstances compelled him to found the prayer haven.
He also adds that many years later, the spot started attracting other ordinary Kigali dwellers, especially those who have very tight work schedules to attend church that is open on particular days or hours.
Non Christian believers, however, may feel left out, thinking that this place is preserved for believers only. However, our guide, Kamanzi Marcellin clears this;: “This site is open to everyone, it is non-denominational. Even Muslims come here for worship,”
On any given weekday, the spot is swarmed by about an average 250 people, a number which surges during weekends. People from as far as Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and the US also visit once in a while. It’s open from 6am to 6pm.
However, this is not just your ordinary prayer garden. There is an ambitious 10-year development master plan, aimed at transforming the venue into a world class retreat. Some of the projects in the pipeline include:, construction of a 20,000 seater chapel, a US$1.3 million mega multi-purpose hall (nearing completion), a school and recreation ground. The whole project is expected to cost US$66 million, fundraised solely from church members.
Kamanzi, our tour guide, who is a project a manager of the venture in question, explains that they derive the motivation to carry out such an ambitious development project single-handedly as a not so big church with the mighty intervention of God. “Nothing is impossible as long as God has a hand in it. When he gives a vision, he also gives a provision.”
He points out though that they are faced with one main challenge; that of the murram road that connects from the highway. “It gets exceptionally muddy and slippery during the wet season and dusty during the dry days, so we appeal to government to come to our rescue.”