by mark & julie payne, grace attenders
“I want to help the Rwandan people and speak for those who are mistreated.”
This was the overriding response when we asked 25 Rwandan attorneys practicing in the northwestern province of Musanze why they chose their profession. Armed with a law degree and virtually no resources, these courageous men and women spend their lives representing the disadvantaged and trying to bring peace and reconciliation to a still-healing country.
Since 2007, Grace Outreach Partner ALARM Rwanda has worked to equip Christian lawyers to be more effective amidst the challenges of conflict, corruption, and bribery. ALARM has also encouraged Christian justice professionals to help marginalized individuals gain access to justice. In Rwanda, most lawyers are located in the capital city of Kigali, leaving the majority of the country, which is rural, with little to no access to legal representation. To address this issue, ALARM trains lawyers in rural areas to provide legal services to poor and vulnerable people. This has included encouragement of pro-bono services and the opening of a legal clinic. They seek to address legal issues among the most vulnerable, including children, women, and prisoners.
In August 2018, we had the privilege of conducting a seminar with these attorneys focusing on God and His view of justice, forgiveness, servant leadership, restorative justice, and mediation.
So, whom do these attorneys serve? They represent the woman who is divorced by her husband and left, literally, with no resources or means of support. They assist the child whose father left and she cannot attend school. They help the person whose property was wrongfully taken. They defend the man who was unjustly imprisoned without a hearing.
When you hear they are attorneys, you may automatically presume they have financial resources. In reality, we learned that many of the attorneys are struggling to support themselves and their families. Most don’t have enough money for transportation to travel to meet clients or go to court. These determined attorneys don’t do it for the money, because there is very little money to be made. They are practicing to break the cycle of injustice by defending the rights of the poor and marginalized and restoring hope to their fellow countrymen.
How can you help?
First, you can pray. When asked how we could pray for them, the attorneys requested prayer for peace, God’s wisdom, real reconciliation in Rwanda, financial means to provide services to the marginalized, financial means to provide for their families, and good health. Please join with us in prayer for these attorneys doing amazing work for God’s justice.
Also, you can become a justice partner and provide financial support through ALARM. This will enable them to continue to identify, train and encourage Christian lawyers to fight injustice by advocating for the poor through legal aid clinics, conflict management, and informing members of the community of their rights and laws.
Proverbs 31:8 says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
These Rwandan and Grace lawyers are living our their #youweremadeformore callings! Do you have a legal background or expertise and want to support their calling? Learn about the 2019 Attorney Conference in Rwanda on our trips page!