*** DEBUG END ***

From Barefoot to Bishop: A Rwandan refugee’s journey by Laurent Mbanda

31 August 2018

A Rwandan’s testimony leaves Michael Doe with a few questions

IN APRIL 1994, genocide swept over the small African country of Rwanda. Within three months, as many as one million people died. Most were Tutsis, victims of the Hutu-majority government. For many years, fear of ethnic violence had led people to flee their country, especially to neighbouring Burundi. In 1959, the refugees seeking safety there included a five-year-old boy, Laurent Mbanda.

This is the remarkable story of how that boy became Bishop of Shyira in the Anglican Church of Rwanda. It tells how, without money or documents, he sought work and education in Kenya, finding shelter and support with American missionaries. Under their auspices, he went to the United States, scratching money together for education, including a doctorate. He worked for Campus Crusade and then Compassion International, rising to the top of the latter’s bureaucracy, but at the end insisting that he return to head the work in Africa, including Rwanda. It was there, in 2010, that he was elected bishop.

He tells his story as a testimony to the God who will always provide, and whose intervention accompanies every step — a very African belief, both spiritually and culturally. Alongside that, he has, like many who have been refugees, self-determination and an entrepreneurial spirit: he set up a company in the States sending used clothing for sale in Africa, and those same skills are now putting his diocese on a firm footing.

The book illustrates how American missionaries and aid agencies still operate in ways that their European counterparts might describe as “colonial”. It also raises some questions about Anglican ministry, with very little about his ordination and formation.

Perhaps these matter less, given the scale of the problems that he has faced. His overriding concern is for the children, having known what it is to be a hungry and homeless child himself, and above all that they might have hope.

The Rt Revd Michael Doe is Preacher to Gray’s Inn and a former General Secretary of USPG.

From Barefoot to Bishop: A Rwandan refugee’s journey
Laurent Mbanda
Changing Lives Press £22.50
Church Times Bookshop £20.25

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.