KIGALI - Renowned American pastor, Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church, yesterday delivered a special sermon at a prayer breakfast with a cross-section of Rwandan leaders, in which President Paul Kagame was chief guest.
Pastor Warren began his sermon recalling how he was invited to Rwanda by Kagame nearly six years ago and how he immediately pledged to bring his church members to the country he had just discovered to make known the positive deeds he had seen.
Attributing to lessons he has picked from President Kagame, Warren described what he had discovered about leadership; “as having clear vision, willingness to take risks, sense of expectancy in faith and persistent hope.”
He pointed out the mistakes in setting goals as “aiming too low and trying too quickly” and advised those seeking to achieve to “set big goals and spend the rest of your life working on them.”
Warren, whose church currently has 100,000 members and a staff of 400, amused his audience by revealing how he had started out his church when he was 25 years old with only one follower, his wife Kay Warren, who was unimpressed by his first sermon because it was “too long.”
He spoke of the importance of taking risk, and described courage as “not the absence of fear but of doing the right thing even with fear in the heart.”
He challenged Rwanda’s leaders to continue to take risks for the good of the country, saying that many of them once put their lives on the line for others during the genocide.
Warren highlighted the importance of persistence, illustrating with Winston Churchill’s famous “never, never, never give up” wartime speech.
He described Rwanda as a great country that had developed character from its experience and expressed his wish for all to think of Rwanda as “that country that produces great people.”.
In remarks following the sermon, President Kagame lauded Pastor Warren for “practicing what he preaches” and spoke of the various actions that Warren and his church are implementing in Rwanda including in the areas of health, education and business promotion.
Kagame expressed appreciation for the special sermon and noted the importance of purpose and responsibility of leadership and its connection with faith “… if we just sat back and prayed every day, we wouldn’t achieve as much as if we actually went about our work knowing that it was what God wants us to do.”
Kagame said that leadership demanded consistency and building moral authority, which gives courage for a leader to take risks and speak openly on issues that guide the ordinary people to implement and achieve their goals.
Kagame pointed out that events like the prayer breakfast were important because they provided room for reflection, taking stock of achievements and challenges, measuring progress and using these to move forward on the collective vision for the country.
The prayer breakfast is a monthly event organized by leaders of the Christian faith as a platform to pray for the nation and discuss issues of faith and leadership.
Tony Blair, who is on a two-day visit to Rwanda, also dropped by the event held at the Kigali Serena.