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Out of the Rwandan trauma

05 July 2013

Lesley Bilinda was ordained deacon at St Paul's Cathedral on 29 June. She will serve her title at St Andrew's, Fulham Fields.

It was through trauma that Mrs Bilinda's faith became what it is today. During the Rwandan genocide her husband, a Rwandan, was murdered. She was on holiday at the time and was not able to return to the country, where many family and friends had also been attacked, and her house looted by soldiers.

"I clung on to faith for a good long time after that, and God provided such a stability through the trauma," she says. "But over the years it really challenged my faith, to the point where I was wondering: how could God let that happen, and is there really a God at all? I think in the long term, it has grounded me and strengthened me in my faith."

A trained nurse and midwife, Mrs Bilinda had been working with Tearfund in Rwanda and went on to join All Nations' College, where she lectured in pastoral studies, while training as a counsellor. She has also worked for the Tutu Foundation in London, serving communities in need of mediation and reconciliation.

She first became conscious of a calling to ordination about three years ago, out of a desire to bring spiritual, as well as physical and mental healing, "working with people as whole people". As a curate at St Andrew's, she is excited about working with a "very diverse parish".

"I think I see my role as being someone who journeys with people in all the major transitions and crises and just day-to-day things of life," she says. "Having experienced God through the ups and the major downs, and perhaps learning some of the most important lessons in life through the hardest experiences of life, I hope to bring something of that to get alongside other people."

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