I’m excited to have a new excerpt from The Child Catchers up at Guernica magazine.
In 2005, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, a controversial military leader who helped end the country’s 1994 genocide, invited Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren to implement in Rwanda the lessons of his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life. Warren’s book had been as popular in Rwanda as it was elsewhere in the world, and more than 100,000 copies had been distributed in the local language of Kinyarwanda. The program in Rwanda would be based on the ambitions of Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan—a missionary empire that places local churches at the forefront of global development work and that uses trained church volunteers to augment or replace government social services—and the Rwanda program would be the first nation-scaled implementation. The plan’s programs, such as its “clinic in a box”—giving churches the basic ingredients to provide rudimentary medical care to their community—did triple duty by helping citizens, easing the government’s burden, and evangelizing the public by boosting the credibility of the local church providing the care. It went without saying that a component of Saddleback’s work in Rwanda would focus on one of the “signature issues” of Warren’s 20,000-member Saddleback Church: orphan care and the imperative for Christians to adopt—something Warren would go on to describe as not just a cause, but “a biblical and social mandate we can’t ignore.”