The Covid-19 pandemic in the eyes of a Rwandan living in the US

By Viviane KIREZI

I remember when it was announced that everything is going to shut down, that Sunday I started attending church online again. I say attending online again because I was used to attending online; in fact, I got saved when I was following a church service on YouTube about 7 years ago.

It is of course much better to be in-person, but with the experience of attending church online for a long time, I had learned to normalize it, and feel like I am there in the spirit. There are times I wanted to watch evening services happening at Zion Temple Gatenga, but I could not because I had to go to class as it was morning in California where I was going to school. After coming back from class, I would watch the service and go along and pray along as if it is something happening at the moment.

Where I live now, I have the opportunity to attend two churches on Sunday. In the morning, I go to an American church that is multiethnic in nature, it is called All Nations Christian Fellowship (ANCF), and in the afternoon I often go to a Rwandan church. At ANCF, we have been meeting on YouTube the whole pandemic time, and during the week we meet on zoom for Bible studies in small groups. At the Rwandan church, we have been meeting in person ever since the lockdown was lifted. I enjoy having both experiences, although sometimes it can be tempting to put off the YouTube service thinking that I can watch it later.

As far as church fellowship, the pandemic only affected the ability to be in-person, but everything else continued online. In fact, as a result of seeing how we need to fellowship even more, a group of us at the Rwandan church has been meeting on WhatsApp call to pray at 5 am. We all realized how we missed “morning glory services” known as “Nibature” in my mother tongue (Kinyarwanda). This experience has been life changing, especially when we put our hearts together to seek the Lord and to pray for those who are struggling in these days. What this taught me is that an individual can put in effort to seek God (especially in isolation that many are experiencing), but it is also helpful to fellowship with others who can also offer accountability.