The church in Rwanda, as everywhere, is no stranger to controversy and scandal. This time it has taken the face of financial impropriety, as pastors of one church trade accusations of embezzling over Frw70 million.
We remember a time in this country when the church had a powerful allure, a grassroots empathy that won the institution an incredible amount of power and sway.
For the last thirteen years, the church has been trying to rebuild its image it itself destroyed during the 1994 Genocide. Still, Rwanda is home of the Faithful, and it is these who are being abused once again. Soliciting and begging money from foreign contributors in our names, we have all become unknowing beggars by proxy.
It seems that today, being a pastor of a church is a comfortable chair in a comfortable industry. Not only are they letting down their people so badly, but they are letting down their purpose.
Exemplary leaders from all corners are needed desperately in Rwanda. Role models and mentors can change this country positively forever.
Regulation and accountability in general has been a problem literally every people in the world have had to tackle. In the church it has long been far more difficult.
It is embarrassing for our so-called pastors to promote self comfort first than actual ministering. The old churches got the respect of the people because of ministering to their health, education, and many other social programmes in addition to saving souls.
Many schools, health centres, and other worthwhile pursuits were promoted for the communities where the missionaries built their ministries.
But what do we see today? Palatial homes and “Prayer palaces” springing up in poor neighbourhoods, defying respect for the owners due to the manner of their acquisition.
While the church will continue to play an important role in community building, people running them should hold themselves responsible to hold others responsible.
That said, if the churches are registered as businesses and are being run as such, there is no reason why the government should not get interested enough to start taxing the effects of our collective begging that the pastors have imposed on all Rwandans wherever they beg from.