Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Big Move ~ D.R. Congo and Rwanda

Dear Friends of BESI / Radio Kahuzi,

As we begin 2015 and our 23rd year of broadcasting the Gospel to the Great Lakes Region of Eastern Africa, we are trusting the Lord to allow us to establish our second radio station across the border in Rwanda.

The New Road Home

The Sign says, Caution: Gorilla Crossing
Currently, we already reach D.R. Congo, Rwanda and Burundi from Radio Kahuzi, which will continue to broadcast from the city of Bukavu in D. R. Congo. We have chosen the name of "Great Lakes Grace Radio" (GLGR) to better reflect our major area of coverage and, if the Lord wills, to establish a second station in Cyangugu, Rwanda. All of this will take time working with the government of Rwanda to submit our application for licensing. Please pray to that end.
Our new front porch view across Lake Kivu
A Look Back
Beginning in 2009 we knew we would need to start searching for a new housing alternative for the McDonalds and Radio Kahuzi as the unreasonable rent increases began. There were many starts and stops as Rich and Kathy were directed to different properties in Bukavu that were either too expensive or in unsafe locations, etc.

By faith, we added the category of "Building Fund Project" in 2009 - 2013.  Then on June 30, 2013, our BESI Board discussed the need for the McDonalds to begin looking in Rwanda where we could find less expensive properties. We renamed "Building Fund Project" to "Phase II" as we realized we would need to rent while raising funds for a purchase.

The mansion under our four shortwave masts
Then in December 2013 word came from Kathy telling us,"Today is another mile­stone in the life of Radio Kahuzi as we watch a group of construction workers coming to our very front yard. The lot beside our house and studio (which housed the 4 - 40 ft masts for our shortwave antenna) has been sold without notice!" The Lord was definitely, directing us toward a major move for the ministry after 17 years at this same location.

By then, our dear friend had offered a parcel of ground to build a new studio for Radio Kahuzi, thus separating the station from McDonald's housing, wherever that would be.

Rich and Kathy made several trips across the border to look at and compare properties. Finally, in 2014 the "Little White House" was located and arrangements made to look at it and talk to the owner.

Progress is not without disappointment
Richard shared, "On September 18 and 19 Kathy and I were at a real low, even to the point of turning down the offer to rent "The Little White House" as the terms had changed as his wife did not agree to sell, but to keep as an investment after days of negotiations, etc."

"Then the owner came to our gate with the rent contract for ten years--with no option to buy! More disappointment. We began discussing the contract. As it turned out, Kathy was able to put everything into perspective and our new landlord agreed to a number of modifications to the contract. It suddenly was very helpful and ideal for our needs."

On December 1st Rich and Kathy received the keys to "The Little Brown & Pink House" as the owner had repainted it inside and out and installed a new kitchen and bath!
The Little Brown House
Since we separated the two projects: Phase I: to date, gifts given total, $15,000.20.

Donations designated "Phase II" gifts total, $5,273.30. The Phase II funds along with General Funds of $6,726.70 were used to pay the first two years' rent in Rwanda for the Little Brown House. This will allow us time to save toward the purchase price of $91,238.23, or find a generous lender to finance the amount with interest. We need to make the purchase before December 2016.

Phase I construction of a new radio studio began in October 2013, and in December 2013 the first floor was completed with stairs to the second floor. On February 20, 2014 a load of bricks arrived to begin the second floor. In July 2014 the two-story 13 X 13 studio shell was completed in nine months.

Phase I Progress Slowed
By the middle of September 2014 Richard shared with Kathy that he could no longer see from his right eye and we began to raise funds for a trip home for emergency surgery. Their total expenses for their Oct - Nov medical trip were $9,277.48, which included: housing, surgery on both eyes, taxes on Frequent Flyer Sky Miles, personal items, dental for Rich and Kathy, which was covered by gifts from you totaling, $9,070.15.

Last week an architect approved two additions to Phase I construction of the radio studio: a bathroom upstairs in case Rich and Kathy need to sleep at the studio...when they cannot cross the border before it closes at 5:30 pm, and downstairs a separate small room needs to be added to house the electrical backup battery supply and transmitters due to the noise and fumes. Please pray that these additions can be added soon as the other work is completed inside the studio.

Our new watchman
Progress in 2015
Rich and Kathy made a visit to their new home. Richard reported, "On Jan 3, 2015, Kathy and I discussed our new residence with Immigration officials in Rwanda and celebrated with a cup of coffee, changed the lock on the gate at the new address at Avenue Kamebe / Karambo, Rusizi, District, Rwanda and hired and paid the watchman. (Photo)

"Lord willing, I will complete more formalities this week concerning our Rwanda residence papers, visas, and car registration, etc."

We thank you for your prayers and your gifts throughout 2014 that kept us moving ahead. We pray that you will consider partnering with us once again throughout this new year...until He returns.

Keep Looking Up!
Harold D. Smith, President

P.S. Listen to a great  interview of Rich and Kathy by Ron Cline, former president of HCJB.