For God so loved the world….
20 years ago evangelist Michael Cassidy got on a plane in Entebbe, Uganda and sat next to a stranger; a lovely but desperately sad looking young woman from Rwanda.
It was just after the genocide in Rwanda when about 75% of the Tutsi minority were murdered by members of the Hutu maority. Usually he read during flights and minded his own business. But this time he felt constrained by the love of Christ to reach out to the disconsolate young woman called Iliza, Cassidy told Christian leaders in Port Elizabeth on the eve of the week-long Switched On evangelism outreach in the city which ends on Saturday (August 22, 2015).
“I said ‘Iliza we in our team [African Enterprise] love Rwanda and most of our team and board in Rwanda were killed in the genocide’ and I said ‘Iliza, did you lose family in the genocide?’ She said ‘I lost most of my family, I hate my country, I hate my people, I hate the world, I hate everybody I wish I were dead I dont want to be alive.'”
Cassidy told the young woman there was somebody who could come and change her life, give her another family, put love and the capacity to forgive into her heart and enable her to have a new life. He says she seemed to open up to him and he told her the Lord Jesus could do all these things.
“As the plane landed at Ndola [Zambia] I led her in the Sinner’s Prayer and she came to Christ. And I sometimes think if I had only led one person to Christ in my whole journey on the lost planet earth I would have been happy for it to be Iliza,” said Cassidy, relating how the young woman went on from strength to strength as a mighty witness for Jesus. He says 20 years later she still calls him every year on the anniversary of her salvation and on other days and declares her great love for Jesus.
“I could have been too busy and preoccupied on that plane but that day something of the love of Christ touched my heart to reach out to her,” Cassidy said. “You will see people — they may not even look sad like Iliza — they may even look like the life and soul of the party but backstage there is brokenness, depression, sadness and struggle, and in these days for you to share the Gospel of Christ is huge,” he said.
Referring to John 3:16 he said that it is “Love that sends us out” and he urged his audience to “ask the Lord to baptise our hearts with the Spirit of Love” so that they might be constrained to reach out to those around them.
Thinking about Cassidy’s words and how God has entrusted us with the responsibility to lovingly share a simple Gospel message and trust Holy Spirit with the results, I decided to try and contact the young lady from the plane who accepted the message and was born again into a radically new life as a daughter of God. I emailed her and
she readily agreed to share her story, expressing the hope that it will “bring somebody to my Lord”.
She says she was born Iliza Bagambake but became Lyse (Love you shown to Everyone)at her meeting with the Lord.Then after marrying German national Deiter Hunger she became Lyse Iliza Bagambake Hunger (Hungry for the things of God). She is Rwandese by birth but her parents went to the Democratic Republic of Congo as refugees. Her father had three wives and worshiped the dead and various idols. She has a masters degree in International Relations and Political and Social sciences and wanted to travel the world as a diplomat.
But her world fell apart during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and she had no solid foundation to hold onto.
She writes: “We found ourselves in Rwanda with nothing. I mean nothing; dignity gone;family scattered;no home; no hope. It was a mess; despair!! What to do when all your dreams gone? RUN Run!! But where? To run away from my people and never to return this was the plan.On this plane on the Run.”
Then as she sat in pain and tears on the plane in Entebbe knowing that she was leaving her country forever, she saw joyful African Enterprise (AE) team members and she wondered whether they did not see the suffering of her people. Then one of the AE team members, Michael Cassidy, sat down next to her.
“He looked at me and said ‘Girl dont cry; you can start again.’ I looked at him surprised; he said Yes!! His face was so bright I did not see him. He continued Yes! with Jesus Christ !!! He is your way out. He was reading my heart!! How? ‘Just ask he said!!
“This was my Salvation; my hope; stop running. I grabbed it. He led me into a prayer of repentence and made Jesus My Lord and Saviour. PS. He sent me my first Bible — NO greater love than this with a rose on the cover. My favourite till today.”
Lyse (to use her new name) says she asked God to make himself known to her if he was real as she did not want to hear from others who He is. “He did; I have seen Him !!! He is faithful. Read his word; I am alive in Him. What changed? — all of me!”
She says a few months after accepting Jesus on the plane she returned to Rwanda and was baptised by a Hutu pastor in a lake in which there still were floating bodies.
“Yes!! It is the power of the Gospel. I become a new creation. PS I love my country and am proud to be called a Rwandese Christian; I am so in Love with My Jesus, I share Him with everyone on my path as Michael did for me. This is My Mission on earth.”
Lyse has testified about the love of Jesus in Rwanda, Zambia, Gambia, Kenya, Angola, Algeria, Spain and Germany. She is now back in Rwanda to serve the Church of Jesus Christ at the Zion Temple Celebration Center in Kigali where they have just had a summit on “Africa Arise and Shine” on the theme of taking up the seven mountains of family, education, religion, governance, art, media and entertainment, sport and the economy for the Kingdom of God.
She says she keeps her “Father in Faith” Michael Cassidy in prayer and calls him from time to time. “I love to hear his voice and he always pray for me on the phone.”