Jean-Baptiste (JB) and his wife Pascasie Gatsinzi lost a number of their family members over the years. God comforted them by giving them an even bigger family as Psalm 68:6a says, “God sets the lonely in families”. It took a while, but the couple found their spiritual tribe.
Soon after their marriage in 1991, JB and Pascasie left Rwanda (East Africa) for Belgium (Europe) to study, with a clear plan to return once their studies were complete. Their son, Roger, was born a year later. Sadly, just as they were preparing to go back to their country, the 1994 genocide in Rwanda halted their plans. So, in 1995 JB took his young family to Germany instead, where their second son, William, was born the following year. In 1997, the Gatsinzi family moved to Botswana, in southern Africa, where JB started working as a mathematics professor at the University of Botswana.
While shopping for groceries one Saturday with their boys in tow, René Diane, a member of the church in Gaborone then, approached the Gatsinzis. She had a toddler with her of about the same age as theirs.
“René invited us to church and the next day we attended,” Pascasie shares. “We felt a warm welcome and our children loved the classes in kids’ kingdom.”
From then on, they occasionally visited church, mostly at the persistence of their children. “Some sisters who also worked at the university kept encouraging us to attend whenever we met them on campus,” Pascasie remembers. The Gatsinzis started studying the Bible in 2000 and three months later they both got baptized. They developed close friendships in the church and felt that their children grew up in the kids’ kingdom.
JB and Pascasie Gatsinzi welcomed Frank and Beth Radcliff to their home last year.
“By the time we moved to Botswana in 1997, we had lost some of our family members to the genocide, including our fathers, and could not even attend their funerals due to the distance and fear of the unrest. While in Botswana, and soon after becoming disciples, my mother passed on, together with many other siblings and relatives. But, we were comforted by God and friends from our new family during those difficult times of mourning,” Pascasie shares.
In 2012, the Gatsinzis relocated when the University of Namibia offered JB a post, and they joined the Windhoek Church of Christ. While there, some of their major highlights included both their children becoming disciples, and having opportunities to serve in different ministries.
“We learned so much in the Windhoek church and built great relationships and friendships that helped our spiritual growth,” the Gatsinzis fondly remember. Their son, Roger, was baptized on campus in 2012. Their second son, William, also became a disciple five months later, still in Windhoek.
God soon showed the Gatsinzis that he had even greater plans for them. In 2017, JB got another job in Botswana. This time with the newly-established Botswana University of Science and Technology, based in Palapye, about 300km (186 miles) from the capital Gaborone, where the church is located.
After some days of prayer and fasting, and with the help of a sister, Segopotso Sebakile, who visited them from Gaborone, they all stepped out on faith to invite their neighbors to a house church service. “The attendance was very encouraging, but we still travelled between Palapye and Gaborone to be with the bigger group every fortnight. That was until we realised that some neighbors would come to our house for service and find no-one home. We then committed to holding a house church every Sunday,” Pascasie continues.
Some members of Gaborone church started making regular visits to Palapye to encourage the house church and assist with Bible studies. As a result, a lady named Keatlaretse Ogotseng (better-known as Mmabotho) got baptized. Later on, Pascasie’s niece, Consolatrice, was restored back into the fellowship when she rejoined the Gatsinzis in Palapye. The Gatsinzis had cared for her from the age of 12, and she lived with them for six years and got baptized before she moved back to Rwanda. There, she lost touch with the local church as she stayed far from disciples.
“We give glory to God for moving powerfully in our community and we pray for a growing faith to continue sharing the gospel with more people,” JB and Pascasie add that this is their earnest prayer.
The Gatsinzi family has had their fair share of challenges, but God has proved to be faithful in taking care of them throughout it all. Both their sons are strong disciples in their countries of birth in Europe, and the older one, Roger, is now dating steady in the kingdom.