February 2024

Dear Pray-ers:

  • What a great privilege to be able to share with you all that has been happening already in 2024! Imagine, 2024!!
  • We just spent the day with four genocide ex-offenders who have recently been released back into the community after two decades of incarceration. They came down from their villages to meet with Pierre, Eileen and me as well as Chaplains Fine, Nelson and Kizungu at the Petit Sanctuaire in Gisenyi, Rwanda. We listened, shared food and prayer with them. The first to speak was a frail, soft-spoken, elderly fellow. He had asked forgiveness from his victims through our program while in prison, but he cannot overcome his guilt and shame. He has not gone back to his village yet as he cannot face the people there, and runs away when he recognizes someone from his past. He is asking the chaplains to go with him to facilitate. The second, younger but with sore feet that he can barely walk on, has not yet asked forgiveness. He has asked the chaplaincy team to go up into the mountains with him when the flood damage recedes to begin this process. He had been dreaming of eating fresh bread while in prison (for 19 years), and enjoyed his first cheese sandwich with us that day. The third fellow is in his sixties and suffering from renal failure. He has been very forthingcoming with his family and community since release. He is actively working on mending relationships and believes with God's help, things will improve. The fourth man has been out longer and has reunited with his family. He is constantly reliving his crimes during the genocide. To combat this and to contribute positively to society, he has put together a small reconciliation group in his village. The twenty or so members work together and meet and put one dollar a month into a pot. They then decide what to do with this - Buy beans to plant? Fertilizer? Water buckets? We at Just.Equipping would love to dive in and help with these initiatives.
  • As you may know, women are allowed to keep their babies with them in prison until the children are 3 years old. As I have witnessed, it is heart-breaking to be with these mothers on the day when their child is taken away from them and placed in a family in community. The lucky ones are received by loving relatives. Others are placed in families who very often are having their own struggles to survive. Recently, Chaplain Fine was asked to meet with a mother who had just learned that she had cancer with a short time to live. She asked to see her son, now 5 years old, for one last time. After great effort, he was brought back to the prison where his mother was waiting for him in a common area. Unfortunately, he did not remember her and refused to go near her. With patience and cookies, she was finally able to hug him one last time. She told Chaplain Fine that despite the grief, she was infinitely grateful for the encounter. And such is a day in the life of a chaplain.
  • Many women are serving very long prison sentences for drug offenses. They are paid to carry and deliver drugs. They are almost always collaborating in order to get money for food for their children. The drug lords threaten the women with their children's starvation and most feel that they have no choice. Even if they are released, the cycle begins again. Chaplaincy is currently involved in petitioning the President through a letters campaign to have sentencing re-examined.
  • The milk ministry continues to the elderly and sick, to those who cannot eat solid food or who need help to sit up and drink. Many are suffering from typhoid. They are SO grateful when our chaplains arrive for these visits. The chaplains are sometimes asked to look after the arrangements for their bodies when they die. A complicated request, but one showing a bond of trust and compassion.
  • Jean Bosco in Burundi and his dedicated team are currently feeling the pressure to find 'something' to bring when they visit the prisons. They must bring a bag of foodstuffs, or soap, or hygiene products for the women, or footwear, medications, whatever...! Since they are all experiencing a lack of personal resources themselves, this becomes a real stressor. Remember them as they try to sort this out.
  • Finally, please pray for the DRCongo (Goma) as many of our friends there are living perilously within conflict zones, refugee camps are full again, and conditions in prisons are abominable. Only God can work in hearts so that they will one day know peace instead of misery. Pray for hope and courage.

Your support in all of this has been steadfast, wonderful. It has kept us going at our ripe old age! Thank you.

Judy Allard
for the Board of Directors and the chaplaincy teams with Just.Equipping

September 2023

Dear Pray-ers:

  • What a summer! Hot, cold, hot. Wind, rain, floods, tornadoes, wildfires. Mosquitoes, ticks, beetles. Expensive food, bad roads, no vacancies. Iffy health care, strikes, and shortages. And yet we here in Canada are the most privileged people in the world! May God grant us gratitude for every flower that blooms, every neighbour we are able to help, and may we learn how to better take care of God's creation. I didn't plan to start this letter to you with a mini-sermon but there has never been a time when we are so conscious of all we have going for us.
  • The DRC Goma team has just finished another 'De-Bugging' - washing, disinfecting, shaving, cleaning, feeding - session in the juvenile and women's section of the prison. They are planning to start sewing more pants to take to the young men who often arrive in very poor condition. The women are asking for underwear and shoes. We have also worked on portable lighting to bring into the men's section so that the chaplain and others can read their Bible and study papers. And hunger....Everyone is hungry. We are so thankful for those who are committed to this work.
  • As I write this, Jean-Bosco has once again gathered his chaplains in Burundi for a time together to check on plans and progress. When we were sitting together, he was sharing the great distress their team is feeling at not being able to satisfy all the requests coming their way. This, of course, is impossible, but they are learning to rest in God's will and establish a strong community together. They are adept at sharing resources and caring for each other. The big challenge: having some foodstuffs (beans, rice, manioc flour, salt) to bring when they enter the prisons. They are also still targeting help to the pigmy population who are over-represented in the correctional system and who suffer the most extreme poverty and lack of education.
  • The work with the elderly and dying has captured the hearts of the Rwanda Three team. As Rwanda is the land of a thousand hills, the Rubavu Prison is literally built on a mountainside. Those who can no longer climb to the upper agora to take part in meetings are visited by the chaplains in their dorm beds. They are offered milk and a listening ear, prayer and often advocacy whether to family outside (if anyone remembers them or still cares) or administration. There is much joy in these exchanges. The Rwanda Three also continues its intense involvement with restorative justice practices from first meetings with victims and offenders to kitting out genocide perpetrators who are being released back into their home communities after years of incarceration.
  • Sister Joe Eke has just returned to Nigeria after several weeks of rest with us in Canada. It is difficult to convey the circumstances in which these sisters and brothers work and live. Let me just mention that on her way to the airport in Abuja to begin her flight to Montreal, the convent and the neighbourhood in which she was staying were strafed by rebels with AK47s. She certainly deserved a bit of R&R!
  • We here at Just.Equipping are feeling the strain of finances, political and economic conflict - and aging! We count on your prayers and we thank you for years of faithful support. You have blessed so many and encouraged them to continue meeting life head-on with courage and faith.

Judy Allard, Just.Equipping
Pierre, Eileen, Randy, Irene, David, Gaston, Sue, Jim and Ed, Nancy and Doug.
The Rwanda, Burundi and DRC Goma teams.

March 2023

Dear Pray-ers:

  • It has been a ‘rainy’ rainy season. Yesterday several of us went to see C. who has not been well. In fact, she has been in bed for two months and unable to sell her potatoes as she normally would. There were six of us in the car, and the trunk was full of supplies. We travelled quite a distance into the country until the road ahead was washed out and the car hit a lava rock which punctured the gas line. We walked the rest of the way in the rain, preceded by very happy local boys whom we hired as ‘porteurs’ to carry the stock to C.’s house. We had a good visit, lovingly received and hopefully giving comfort. The trip back home was rather the same except in reverse! Once again, we were reminded of life’s lesson that darkness comes with light, good times with bad, and stress with fun. In the end, what gets us through is community, heeding 1 John where we are called to love one another.
  • This is particularly pertinent today in our region as relations between Rwanda and DRCongo are very strained and old animosities are revived. Our activities for the next few weeks will necessarily reflect this reality: fewer groups, less border crossing, careful planning, and as ever, listening and talking out the inherent trauma. Prison visits continue and are a source of joy. And we will take this opportunity to spend time with individuals.
  • The DRCongo team has been affected by the health issues of leader Simeon. He suffered a brain injury diagnosed as a large hematoma, and has been recuperating here at the Grand Sanctuaire. He is hoping to avoid surgery and is looking better every day. To those of you who have helped with his medical costs and who are praying for him, know that you are greatly appreciated.
  • The Rwanda team remains passionate about their ministry. Their main challenge is to keep up the same pace despite inflation which has reached 30% in many areas. This week they found it emotionally very difficult to choose only the sickest of the sick prisoners for milk rations when many more were clamouring for a cup. It was a similar situation with those living with tuberculosis - there is never enough soap or milk or dietary supplements and many are left calling after the chaplains who have nothing more to give.
  • Inflation has hit Burundi as well, obliging the chaplains to make hard choices as they go into the instituions. Jean Bosco and his team are making important inroads with the local church leaders which hopefully will mean help from others and a wider shouldering of responsibility.
  • This past week, 30 of the 50 sewing machines provided by the Rotary Club partnership in Holland and Rwanda were delivered to two prisons. They were received with enormous enthusiasm. They will provide skills and meaningful activity for many, as well as significantly alleviating the dearth of suitable clothing. In Rubavu Correctional Facility, the presentation was made to an audience of 8,345 inmates - and they responded with brilliant traditional dancing.
  • And we have been distributing the many gifts sent from Canada: beautiful little handmade dresses, blankets and kits for babies born or living in prison, warm men’s clothing for the very old and weak, blankets and sheets -and of course- the signature underwear! Thank you! Thank you!
  • Please remember to pray for our teams who are overwhelmed with needs and their own secondary traumatization. And yet, all is well.

Judy Allard, for everyone on the Just.Equipping team.

October 2022

Dear Pray-ers:

  • As I write to you from our cosy little home in Quebec, Canada, I am listening to the ducks and geese flying overhead in V formation. They are 'going south' for the winter. The trees in the yard, after a brilliant, blinding display of colour, have lost most of their leaves. Those of us with any energy or motivation are cleaning and pruning the gardens and putting away summer furniture. Autumn pulls at my heart. The summer was wonderful. Why do things have to change? Perhaps because that is God's way of constantly renewing us.
  • We ask for renewal for so many who are living and working in extremely challenging situations. Sister J. recently wrote: 'Our world is passing through a lot of stress at the moment, especially here in our country. So many deaths, political intrigues, hunger, herdsmen cum terrorists. They rape women, so sad and painful...universities have been closed for several months....too many things to recount. Even now I am courageous to work with light in the night, I should put it out as you cannot know when kidnappers do nefarious acts...'
  • We ask for renewal for many of the children in the various teams who have been sick or living great personal disappointments.
  • We ask for food and clean water for so many of our brothers and sisters. And we are thankful for signs of renewal.
  • A new prison is in the planning for Goma, DRC. The current 'facility' houses 10 times more than its capacity.
  • The 11 regional chaplains in Burundi and their wives are excitedly awaiting a team meeting in Bujumbura in November.
  • More sewing classes have completed the course of study and proudly graduated from the WoW Center, Petit Sanctuaire Goma.
  • Several dozen released genocide perpetrators have met with the Rwanda team at the Petit Sanctuaire Gisenyi, now completing the full circle of the restorative justice process. We began working with them 14 years ago in prison. They wrote letters asking forgiveness of their victims. The victims were contacted by the chaplaincy team and invited to meet with their offender. The meetings took place in prison. Confession, forgiveness, and after many years of incarceration, small beginnings of restoration back into community. And now the enormous privilege of sitting together again to share how this miraculous thing has been experienced by all.
  • Then yesterday, for the first time since the covid crisis, the Rwanda team took 100 pieces of men's clothing into prison for 100 men who were in great need. (I wonder who is wearing your shirt?!). What joy!

Thank you for your faithful support.
From all of us at Just.Equipping, Judy Allard
Matthew 6:26

June 2022

Dear Pray-ers:

  • It is with great joy that we (Pierre, Eileen and I) write to you from the house in Gisenyi, Rwanda. The journey here was not without hiccups, but we made it! All the suitcases did not, but we’re hoping!!
  • It was a challenge to put things in order after the great covid absence, but the place is starting to be home again, immigration and the local offices and banks know us well, bags of beans, rice, flour, oil and ‘sauce tomates’ adorn the kitchen floor, and there is always breakfast company.
  • The teams have carried on well. Covid infections appear to have been relatively low, prisons are slowly starting to open up. Everyone has lived in great fear for the last while, and so they are again looking for some sense of security, community and economic stability. Very hard to find sometimes in this part of the world.
  • Marthe and Trésor, a lovely young couple from the Goma, DRC team, report being deeply troubled by the inhumane conditions in the juvenile prison where they work. The kids are hungry and sick. The containment center is crowded, dirty and bug-infested, with little water and frequently blocked latrine facilities.
  • A young woman has been accepted in the WoW sewing class after being forcibly confined and sexually exploited for many months. There are many others like her who need new community, physical and psychological and spiritual healing.
  • We have a ‘Listening Backlog’. It is a privilege to have time to simply listen to what people have lived through in the past couple of years. The stories must be told and the experiences aired in sacred light. Chaplain Fine recounted around the table tonight how she had spent her day. She and the team met and prayed with 13 very elderly genocide perpetrators, including former clergy. She was able to bring some warm sweaters for them to sleep in, and they cried and spoke of their abandonment. As she was preparing to leave, an inmate became so ill that an ambulance was called and she was asked to accompany him to the hospital. Once there, he died before she could bring him a cup of milk. Heavy hope.
  • The Burundi team, sturdy souls, echoes the same heart-breaking dilemma we all face: How to visit prisons housing thousands of prisoners all clamouring for life and death needs to be met, and yet maintain a meaningful presence and be able to sleep at night.
  • But we know the God of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Just.Equipping recently received much needed funding for medication. A container garden is being planted in memory of John de Vries, a tree for Paul Hellyer. ‘Babouche’ sandals from soon-to-be newlyweds and from the Montreal Community Chaplaincy fellows. Handmade baby items and hospital sheets and underwear…..

Your unfaltering support in so many ways.

A word from Eileen Henderson, our faithful Guelph-Gisenyi commuter:

‘It is always such a privilege and blessing to be part of the community here in Gisenyi and beyond. Although the pain and despair are very visible, equally visible are the signs of God’s grace showing up in unexpected ways and sometimes in unexpected places. Each day brings new stories reflective of both need and hope. Our chaplains have navigated through these past two years with courage, perseverance and faith, dealing with their own personal challenges while at the same time being generous and responsive to the needs of those they have been called to walk with. Over the past two weeks as we have been able to sit with, listen to and spend time with each other, there is a deep sense of gratitude, of partnership and of being family as together we work at being the body of Christ.’

Asante sana! Murakoze! Merci! Thank you!

Judy Allard

January 2022

Dear Friends:

We are very excited about 2022! Our teams in Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo have made it through this momentous past year with all its challenges and sorrows. They have carried on working for the vulnerable and needy and forgotten. They have found joy in simple things: listening to prisoners, supplying essential foodstuffs, giving basic medical care, finding funds to get children back in class. They have even been innovative as preventive work has been started with the Pigmy population in Burundi, the roof on the women’s section of the Goma prison was repaired to keep out the rain, the Rwanda team managed to find a new building to house the Petit Sanctuaire in Rubavu and ways to help released prisoners get back to their villages despite the pandemic. We say with the prophet Isaiah, (and I rephrase slightly): Clear the path for we are moving ahead!

Chaplain Fine (Rwanda) has been dreadful sick with covid. She is getting better but is still far from feeling fit. We are so thankful for all the prayers on her behalf. She contracted covid while working in the hospital with the palliative prisoners.

Chaplain Simeon wishes to thank you for the Christmas gifts to the team. They were a wonderful surprise - cash for bulk food, clothing (and underwear!) from the suitcase shipments, a donation to their ‘Mutuelle’ healthcare fund, emergency covid kits. He wants to bring to your attention the extreme overcrowding in all sections of the prison -men, women and children, and juveniles. He also lists the general insecurity in eastern DRC, the presidential elections next year, and the need for medicines.

Chaplain Jean Bosco in Burundi highlights the two large New Year’s parties they were able to host for many children of prisoners and their street friends. These included a hot meal, drinks, games, decorations and singing. Huge fun never to be forgotten. The community at large is becoming aware of prisoners among them, and the churches are building capacity for responsibility.

Two weeks ago, there was a gun battle among a gang of young men in front of the Petit Sanctuaire Goma. One, a student, died. Our staff was very concerned. We immediately had stronger perimeter lighting installed. At the same time, one of our team members was having a baby -a beautiful baby girl. Life is an overwhelming mystery. What we do know is that the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not put it out.

We are infinitely grateful for your support this past year. It kept us from discouragement, gave steady work to all the ministry projects and allowed many life-giving moments among those who needed them most. God bless you all this year.

Judy Allard
For the Just.Equipping people here and in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

September 2021

Dear Friends:

There have been volcanic eruptions, earth tremors, serious air pollution, cholera and typhoid. TB, respiratory illness, Covid-19, confinement, lack of transportation, market closings, stress-related illness, bank closures, starvation, contagious infections. School closures, lack of clean water, power outages, medication shortages, houses destroyed, rogue militia violence, and deaths of those very precious to us. We think of housekeeper Banyere’s little Elisha who was a ray of sunshine during his short life. We think of others grieving. We think of many whose life plans have been interrupted, who search daily for food, who face an uncertain future. That’s the difficult news.

Now for the good stuff! Our teams on the ground in Burundi, Rwanda and DRCongo have been brilliantly holding their own! They have worked around restrictions and in between confinement orders to continue to serve those in need.

  • Jean Bosco’s Burundi team has done a stellar job at taking this time to strengthen their 12 separate chaplains and volunteer groups. There have been 2-day Restorative Justice and prison chaplaincy training sessions. These include Bible studies, principles of non-judgmental sharing, intentional listening, sorting through cause and effect, sustainability and the needs of various people groups. They have had access to 12 prison facilities at various times. When possible, they have brought salt, beans, flour, Bibles, soap, underwear and school notebooks. They are especially burdened to offer more help to the indigenous pigmy population. It is very rewarding to see many of these parents encouraging their children to go to school because they have the necessary school supplies.
  • Rwanda has been in and out of confinement and a Covid-19 vaccination program has started. Travel permitting, the team has been delivering letters from genocide perpetrators to their survivors. They have brought together at the Petit Sanctuaire Gisenyi several groups of ex-offenders who have been part of the reconciliation process and who have been released after 20+ years of incarceration. They are receiving Bibles from Sue’s mother’s memorial fund. In response to a recent pardon from President Kagame, the team has put together kits with sheets, clothing and bus tickets to help several of the released get back to their home villages. They have given out over 300 pairs of underwear to the women at Muhanga and Mugeragere prisons. International Children’s Day was celebrated with a gift of food to more than 120 women and children in prison. The Calling Card ministry enables 100 prisoners to keep in touch with their families. The Rwandan team was also able to help out when the displaced from the Mount Nyiragongo eruption came through our town, particularly with packages for babies born during the trek! And the milk ministry helps many men feel God’s arms around them as they transition to a better forever home. Just recently as Chaplain Fine was helping an elderly man to drink a cup of warm milk, he motioned that he wanted to tell her something. He managed to whisper into her ear that he would like her to stand in for the people he had harmed in his life and whom he hadn’t been able to meet to ask forgiveness. She became the victim, hearing and accepting his remorse and offering God’s pardon in return. It was one of so many miracles of grace that the team has witnessed.
  • Simeon and the DRC Goma team have survived an incredible season of natural, political and personal crises. In addition, they have been touched to the core by the even worse conditions in the prison. Work in the juvenile section continues to be central to their ministry. They have been awarded heavy responsibilities there, and in addition to counselling, advocacy, literacy and pastoral care, the medical needs of the young people are almost exclusively met by the Goma team. There are never sufficient funds for medicines and nutritional needs but they offer what they have with joy and expertise. (Just.Equipping supports 3 nurses and a doctor on call). The regular de-bugging and sanitary cleaning continues. Food, clothing and family contacts are always challenges but something is always found somewhere! The post-volcanic air pollution has left many with respiratory problems. Repairs wait to be done. Water tanks are slowly being fixed and filled. Thankfully we have been able to help out with some supplemental gifts. Several classes of WoW students have graduated from the sewing program. And let’s not forget Josephine who runs the daycare at the Petit Sanctuaire Goma. The little ones are given the opportunity to begin to learn socialization skills while the mothers concentrate on their studios. They have a biscuit snack and a lunch of manioc bouillie and beans. Then, mid-afternoon, they journey home on mom’s back!

So much to be thankful for! None of it would happen without your prayers for the teams and your practical support. Our teams say to you: May you live to be as old as Lake Kivu and may you know how much we love and appreciate you. God bless.

Judy Allard for the Just.Equipping teams here in Canada and in the Great Lakes region of Africa

April 2021

Dear Pray-ers:

As we come to the end of a beautiful Easter weekend, we want to salute you for your unwavering support both financially and prayerfully.

John, contrary to Matthew, Mark and Luke, does not describe the Lord’s supper in his gospel. John, ever the theologian, talks about the ‘washing of the feet’. Perhaps it is because that is what should be the fruit of sharing the bread and the cup of Easter. In reflecting on the work of Just.Equipping, we are convinced that our chaplaincy teams practise a ministry of washing of the feet. Because of you, Just.Equipping is able to provide the basin, the towel and the water, but they are washing the feet of the victims, offenders and communities. In so doing, they are fulfilling the holy ministry of compassion and of service to the needy.

A young woman, kidnapped and taken to the bush by rogue militias is now coming with her baby to the WoW centre for training, health care and support. A young man suffering from severe machete cuts will be healed, released from prison and repatriated to his native neighbouring country. Hundreds of cups of warm milk will be given to the sick and dying in jail, while they are accompanied on their journey. A juvenile institution will be debugged and the latrines cleaned while the young men will get clean clothes. Hundreds of calls will be made between families and offenders who have had no visiting privileges since the Covid pandemic began. Suitcases will be filled and taken to long term offenders who are released after 25 years with nothing and no idea where to go without the help of a caring chaplain. Team members will work around many Covid and systemic difficulties to continue to counsel and pray with men and women who have given up hope. Other teams are using this time of danger and great restrictions to share with churches and community groups how they can help to educate their congregations and change their society. Still others are taking temperatures, giving out soap and buckets and masks. Special food rations have been shared. Personal sacrifices have been made. Our brothers and sisters have been beacons of encouragement everywhere they go.

We do not know when and how this present time of trial will end, but we know that our God will be faithful, He will not let us falter and He will give us His joy as our strength.

Thank you, individually and as specific groups -The Great Underwear Ladies, Heaven’s Family, the Education Fund supporters and many more. You are incredible.

May you feel the Resurrection in your bones!

Judy and Pierre
Eileen and Randy
Doug and Nancy
Irene and Gaston
David, Ed and Sue
and the teams in Goma, DRC (Simeon), Rwanda (Fine, Nelson and Kizungu) and Burundi (Jean Bosco)

November 2020

Dear Pray-ers:

  • We trust that you are well, safe and managing patience through this pandemic. It is a difficult time and we send our encouragement and prayers your way.
  • Our teams have just submitted their annual reports and we are amazed at what they have accomplished despite the constraints and dangers of the last months. One thing that has been loud and clear is how much they have appreciated your support during this time. The Congo team said: ‘We are amazed that JE brothers and sisters are remembering us in the middle of all that is going wrong where they are. We can’t believe the love shown to us…' Truly you have been a lifeline for them.
  • There are Covid-time blessings: Fine continues to accompany daily those who are dying. Simeon and the sewing team WoW just did a 36 hour sewing marathon to create 29 graduation outfits for a class of girls that was finally able to receive their diplomas. Nelson and Kizungu have made trips to the mountains to deliver ‘Letters’ to victims from their offenders and to set up eventual meetings in person when the pandemic is over. Jean Bosco has kept his teams going to Burundi prisons within the allowed regulations and there have been very few cases of Covid-19. The juvenile section of the Goma prison has been cleaned and the water system fixed, again, with partnership with Heaven’s Family. We have succeeded in sending 30 suitcases with supplies to clothe offenders being released, babies born in prison, a sheet to cover the dying…There are many stories to tell.
  • However, we mostly want this Pray-ers letter to be about you. We know that many have been ill lately, and that there have been bereavements that we have not been able to be a part of. We have found it hard to comfort one another and we have missed important milestones and celebrations and hugs. We have suffered from separations and losses. We are tired.
  • We want to assure you that your demonstrations of compassion despite these circumstances have given life to many lives. How wonderful it has been to have extra help available for us to distribute to those in great need!
  • May the favour of the Lord rest upon us and establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17

Judy Allard
for Just.Equipping, Canada
and the Rwanda, DRCongo and Burundi teams

August 2020

Dear Pray-ers:

  • Warmest greetings to you as we continue to work our way through this unique and difficult time. We trust that you are well, finding patience you never knew you had, and feeling peace within God’s times and seasons.
  • We are extremely thankful that you have continued in your wonderful concern and support for the work of Just.Equipping.
  • The Rwandan team hopes next week to restart trips into the mountainous areas that are expected to open up for travel to deliver prisoners’ letters asking pardon of their victim survivors. This aspect of the ministry has been on hold because of the severe shut-down of the country due to Covid-19. So far, the virus has been admirably contained. We pray that this mercy will continue into the fall.
  • Chaplain Fine puts on her mask and vest and visits the sick and dying prisoners in the hospital - and there are many at the moment - almost every day. She brings milk for them as they can no longer eat, holds their hands, comforts and prays with them. She is suffering herself from the trauma of accompanying so many of these men and women as they leave behind the sufferings of this world and move on to the next knowing that God loves them despite their past. Most do not even have a sheet to lie on. Please pray for her and them.
  • Simeon and the Goma, DRC team have their own set of challenges. Containing an illness in prison is a challenge in ordinary times. One can only imagine the challenge in a desperately overcrowded prison with a virus such as Covid-19 which requires frequent washing, mask wearing and distancing. Some prisons have released inmates, others are threatening violence and breakouts. The medical team has been helping with hygiene, medications when possible, mask-making and public education. They are saints - every one of them!
  • Jean Bosco and the Burundi team have been experiencing sickness among their own members as well as dire needs in the community at the moment and with those incarcerated, their families and their victims. Another pastor who has been working at restoring links between people in his parish and their relatives in prison was recently attacked and suffered a machete wound to the head. He is recovering.
  • Please remember the extreme hardship suffered by these various populations. Food is expensive. Water is often not easily accessible. Small businesses have shut down as fees cannot be paid. Medications are not accessible. Transportation and banking are problematic. Many are hungry, sick, lonely and despairing. May they know hope. May God spare them the devastating effects of the pandemic.
  • We have been honoured to provide, in your name, extra food allowances for the last 3 months. So many have told us that they could not have managed without these unexpected gifts. God willing, we would like to do more.
  • It is with immense gratitude that we continue because of your participation with us. God bless you.

Judy Allard, Just.Equipping for the Canadian board, and all the African teams.

See below: Pastor with water basins, soap and masks. Pastor with water basins, soap and masks.

April 2020

Dear Pray-ers:

  • We all find ourselves in one of the most difficult and stressful times of our generation. Despite this, the past week has been one of the most encouraging in all our years of working in justice issues.
  • The Rwanda, DRC - Goma and Burundi teams are in lockdown similar to most of us. There is no public transportation, people are being asked to self-isolate and to stay at home. Food prices are going up, day trading is very difficult. It is hard to find water and soap to practise hygiene recommendations. There is little money and food. Many of the people we work with are hungry.
  • In the last two weeks, you have spontaneously responded to these needs! WITH YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS, close to a ton of basic foodstuffs has been bought and divided among the teams. The next lot will go out for Easter. We hope to be able to walk with these brothers and sisters through to the end of this pandemic.
  • Chaplain Fine is able to bring milk for the sick and elderly to the door of the Rubavu prison. She also kits up in medical gear and brings milk to the dying prisoners at the hospital.
  • Chaplain Simeon is putting together water and soap stations, as well as emergency food packages..
  • Contacts are being maintained through texting, email, What'sApp, telephone calls for prisoners and victims (where chaplains provide telephone 'unités' for use).
  • Team leaders are keeping a close eye on the most vulnerable, sacrificing personally and transfering by telephone enough money for others to eat that day.

Hard times and heartwarming times....!

Please pray that these hurting parts of the world will be spared the worst of this Covid-19 pandemic, that it will not spread wildly in the prisons, refugee camps and crowded housing of the poor.

Pray for the necessary hygiene and medical supplies. Pray for our chaplaincy teams who are always on call to encourage and work in dangerous situations. Pray for their protection and wisdom. Pray that they will be comforted as they find it very hard to curtail many activities for what may be weeks or months to come. Pray that the seeds of faith that have been planted in the prisons and communities will bear fruit and bring comfort.

It is God's grace and your gifts that allow all this to happen. It is miraculous. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Keep well and strong. We wish you a very blessed and peaceful Easter, full of resurrection hope.

Judy Allard for the Just.Equipping teams and Canadian Board.

February 2020

Dear Pray-ers:

  • Jacqueline Hodges, an integral part of Just.Equipping since its inception, will no longer be forwarding this letter to you. After a very difficult physical decline, she died January, 2020. She was a person with a giant faith who constantly encouraged Just.Equipping to take a basket to market so that the Lord could fill it. We are deeply appreciative of all she meant to those of us here and those in Africa. We honour her work and thank God for her life.
  • Chaplain Fine from the Rwanda chaplaincy team is in Canada for a month for much needed R&R. Please pray that she will be able to relax and take some distance from the difficult, life and death situations in which she works. Pray also that she will not turn into a popsicle - this is the first time she has experienced winter snow and cold!
  • Simeon and the Goma team continue to face huge challenges in the prison in Goma. The women will benefit from some solar panels which should provide light and, among other advantages, lower their risk of personal danger. The juveniles continue to benefit from the de-bugging and limited medical help, and the main adult population is over-crowded and completely destitute. May hearts and minds on the ground there be changed, and may the team be encouraged. Food, clothing, medicines, clean water, paper, hygiene products lacking.
  • Jean Bosco is doing a great job of maintaining the momentum in prison visits and team meetings in Burundi. It is incredibly hard to return time after time to inmates, victims and contexts which are oceans of needs when you only have one drop of water to contribute. We thank God for their faithfulness and determination. Pray for protection.
  • Several of our sponsored students have graduated - but they have no work. Pray for employment.
  • The Rwanda team has been delivering letters asking pardon of genocide victims, and accompanying elderly offenders who are being released back to their villages after more than two decades of incarceration. Pray that a spirit of peace and forgiveness will reign.

We leave you with a picture of Chaplain Fine with Pierre and Tomas who are kitted out and on their way home. Because of God's grace and your involvement....Blessings to you.

Judy Allard for Just.Equipping

October 2019

Dear Pray-ers:

  • We are enjoying a real, old fashioned rainy season here in northern Rwanda on the border with DRCongo. I was not far away from the house and so decided to walk home today in the rain. Arrived soaked. Pierre was in the centre of town doing business and finally had to call John the Taximan to rescue him. Fine and 3 others who were supposed to be here for an activity several hours ago are still 'missing in action', We hear they are sheltering in a local eatery, having a late lunch! And so goes life in October in the tropics. Everything is green. The new crops are making great headway. For the moment, there is peace.
  • All is in place for our visit to the Rubavu (Rwanda) men's prison tomorrow. We will first meet with a group of 35 elderly and sick. One chaplain will exhort, another will encourage, Lillian will do some stretching exercises. Pierre and I will hand out milk and doughnuts, hug and pray. Next we will meet with another group of needy, shoe-less men who, after sharing and exercising, will each be given a new pair of babouches - plastic sandals. These shoes are the gift of the Community Chaplaincy Breakfasters in Montreal. It is a perfect way to give back, and touches us deeply. There are over 6000 prisoners in this prison, but our team continues to work at meeting them one by one.
  • We are into week four of a hospitality program. Twice a week, we have two couples from the chaplaincy teams come to spend 3 days of vacation at the Petit Sanctuaire Gisenyi. We do not talk about work. They sleep in, eat, and play mini-putt on the front balcony with 5 golf balls and some old coffee cans. They leave reluctantly, with care packages and hopefully lighter spirits. Remember I mentioned that it is rainy season? Let me also just say that it is quite a challenge to wash and dry sheets and towels by hand in 24 hours!
  • Pray for DRCongo. Around the table again last night the consensus was that the prisons there are 'hell on earth'. Our chaplains there are Spirit-led and Spirit-held. Guys are sleeping in shifts on the ground, paying for the privilege of sleeping under the roof, starving and with access to very little water. The juveniles have benefited enormously by Philippe's gift of wood every month so that they can cook beans when they have them. As of today, there are 58 women and 22 babies in a side room. They have 2 plastic water basins among them all. This, added to many other hardships such as no baby food, no underwear, no health care, results in frequent violence and utter desperation. Thank God for the Canadian women who contribute annually about 1500 pairs of underwear.
  • The Burundi team carries on faithfully, trusting God for everything, since everything is in short supply. They have been blessed by Heaven's Family and by the gift of 'not complaining'. They have their lamps filled with the oil available and are ready. Thank you, Jean Bosco for your leadership.

Thank you for being at the other end of this mail. You are our supports. Know that what you are doing in praying and giving and sharing is not in vain. Jacqueline would normally send out this letter. She has been in hospital for several weeks now and covets your prayers for healing and comfort. We miss her so much!

Judy Allard for Just.Equipping and all the teams.

September 2019

Dear Pray-ers:

As summer draws to an end for most of us, we pull out our warm sweaters and feel a bit nostalgic. And so it is with the activities with Just.Equipping over the past weeks. It has been quite a summer!

  • Simeon and the DRC team have pressed valiantly onward with their de-bugging, medical care, literacy, counselling and advocacy ministries at the EGEE juvenile facility and the maximum security facility in Goma. It is extremely difficult: never enough food, medicine, clothes; violence and political unrest; quiet corners to share and pray with people hard to find. But - the team is fearless and unstoppable and we are so thankful for them.
  • The WoW centre continues on at full speed with about four courses running simultaneously. They have been under great strain because of the lack of water - the reservoirs are empty - and so the precautions necessary to avoid an outbreak of Ebola become very difficult.
  • The Rwanda team has been concentrating on accompanying older, dying prisoners and their families. They are doing stellar work with this group, bringing warm milk, a sheet, or bar of soap and a wash cloth, sometimes a warm sweater or a coveted pair of socks or sandals, reconciliation. They love their work and they are loved and appreciated in return. The prisonners hold on to them when they try to leave and beg them not to go. And prayer, buckets of prayer and encouragement! This ministry does, however, in the presence of constant grief, leave Fine, Nelson and Kizungu exhausted and drained.
  • Jean Bosco is forging on in Burundi in circumstances which would have us holding our head in our hands. (It is estimated that 50% of Burundians had malaria last year). He has made huge steps in organizing various church teams from the community to cover all the prisons every month. They bring a small material help, but most of all encourage, baptize, teach literacy and create bonds between the inside and the outside. We pray that this effort will in some miraculous way impact the whole country for the better.
  • Big news. Our beloved Jacqueline in Ottawa is out of hospital after a month, minus some body parts including her big toe! She is a trooper who has been sustained by your prayers and her mantra that 'she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her'. Pray that she will heal and regain her strength.

We so need and appreciate your continued support. Thank you for everything you do!

Judy Allard

May 2019

Dear Pray-ers:

  • After a long rainy season, the sun has come out and the crops should be promising here in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. Everyone is thankful!
  • Speaking of thankful, this week at the annual retreat, we asked the 25 people on our three prison chaplaincy teams from Rwanda, Burundi and DRCongo to share one thing about their country. The comments were overwhelmingly upbeat: Our country is beautiful! Our country is secure! Our country allows us freedom of speech and worship! Our country allows us to share our faith! Our country has fruit trees and crops! Our country is friendly! Our country welcomes visitors! Our country has minerals and potential! We love our country! May God help us from the western world to have hearts overflowing with thankfulness whatever the circumstances!
  • We had the Goma (DRC) chaplaincy team sitting around the living room the other day during a planning session. From the families of those parents, I counted at least 25 children who were not in school because of lack of school fees. This is a heart-breaker for the parents.
  • The De-Bugging program in the Goma Juvenile facility continues to be quite a challenge every month. Simeon's whole team spends the day there shaving heads, washing and changing clothes, unclogging latrines, etc.. The boys especially have suffered for the last few months from several pernicious STD infections. There is never enough money for all the medications required, and never enough food so that they are not taking them on an empty stomach.
  • Chaplain Monique is often met at the entrance to the Women's section by women hoisting up their pagnes to demonstrate that they need underwear! She hoots when she tells us this and then, by Hell or high water, manages to bring them in some of the many pairs that our Canadian women have been providing for years. What joy!
  • We will go tomorrow to the Rubavu Men's Prison in Rwanda where we will offer a sewing machine to the prison (over 6000 prisoners). Then we will share and pray, exercise and drink a goblet of milk with 35 elderly and sick men. Then we will distribute 75 pairs of 'babouche' sandals to the most needy. All because of your generosity!
  • The Burundi team is very burdened currently by the state of the Pygmy population inside and out of prison. They live in unbearable conditions which you would find hard to believe still exist in 2019. They are marginalized, victimized and suffering. One of their official representatives was with us this week, and asked desperately for prayer and support.
  • We had an 'Isoko', a market, at the house the other day. Each woman here had 15 tokens and was invited to 'buy' 15 items. Eileen almost broke her back preparing and sorting the piles of used clothing you had contributed for us to bring. It was an exciting, chaotic and lovely time!
  • And our friends keep strolling in clothed in their joys and burdens.

Judy and Pierre Allard, Eileen Henderson

'Trust God and do good' Psalm 37:3

January 2019

Dear Pray-ers; 'Bearing one another's burdens in 2018'

We are very moved as we put the year 2018 to bed and march into the mystery of 2019.

We are astounded at God's faithfulness, your support and our teams' perseverance.

Here are some things you should know about the RWANDA team's year:

  • We were able to spend time listening to, counselling and praying with 1100 prisoners, as well as offering them a cup of thick milk and many beignets.
  • We have given shoes to 100 prisoners.
  • We have provided transportation home after release to 32 prisoners.
  • Clothes and warm sweaters were provided to 530 prisoners in 4 different prisons.
  • Mattresses were found for 4 very elderly prisoners.
  • We have given out many small bars of soap to hospitalized prisoners.
  • 834 women prisoners received soap.
  • We welcomed 120 people to stay at the Petit Sanctuaire, victims, those needing quiet time for rest and prayer.
  • 13 suitcases were prepared for 13 very needy offenders who were ready to go home after an average of 20 years incarcerated.
  • We were able to supply material for pre-school uniforms, sosoma and sugar to the children up to 3 years old in the Musanze Prison.
  • We were able to support several literacy and English programs (paper, pens, chalk, dictionaries, etc.), and attend several graduation ceremonies.
  • We were able to reunite several groups of genocide victims and perpetrators to check up on their progress after several years of working together.

An uneasy peace is manifesting itself at the moment in DR CONGO. The Ebola crisis is not over, but again seems stable. The courageous and able team there continues against all odds in their pastoral, vocational and medical and advocacy ministries. Continued protection for them both in and out of prison!

The BURUNDI team has been able to cover some basic expenses for 2019 and is looking forward to once again visiting all the prisons in the country with a regular pastoral presence. They are amazing and dedicated '5 loaves and 2 fishes' people. We want to cheer them on practically and in prayer.

What a privilege it is to be able to crew along with all these brothers and sisters. Thank you! Thank you! Our January return has been postponed for a few weeks for medical reasons, but we hope to be on our way soon.

Every blessing to you in 2019!
Judy & Pierre

September 2018

Dear Pray-ers:

Pastor Maryann from Bethany recently asked about our latest activities. Here are some of the things we shared with her.

  • The last weeks were extremely busy with large group activities. Thankfully these can be held at our house in Gisenyi and at the Petit Sanctuaire Gisenyi which is our group headquarters there run by Chaplain Fine. Between the two places we can sleep 25. Not 5-star accommodation, but lots of mattresses and lots of fun. The big challenge is always water, especially when groups are there. Our house had some water most of the time, but the Petit Sanctuaire has not had any since earlier in the summer. So lots of carrying jerry cans around....The big news on the domestic front is that we got a small propane stove, so we are not as dependent on the charcoal mbambolas - much better for the environment.
  • We had a wonderful 2-day retreat with 25 genocide victims who had been part of the Letters Project and who had helped us for years as we searched out people in the mountains. This was the third reunion and we noticed an amazing difference. Almost 25 years after the genocide, and 7-8 years after meeting with their offenders, they are moving on! The healing is starting to show, they are much more autonomous and confident. Many are involved in helping the families of their offenders. As they said to us, 'La vie continue'. This was a joy to witness.
  • Pierre held a 'Men's Day' - they claimed one after we had a 'Women's Day' the last two years! The theme for the day was: 'Offrir le leadership que Dieu attend de nous à la maison et au travail'.
  • The Goma Chaplaincy Team came across the border for a three-day 'Time Off' to get out of their extremely difficult context. They walked to the lake, through the market, played cards, sang, ate, prayed, shared, relaxed. Asked if they could stay another three days....We so easily take peace for granted.
  • We celebrated four graduation ceremonies, handed out diplomas at: WoW girls sewing class in Goma, DRC, Rubavu Men's Prison English class, Musanze Women's handicraft class, and Musanze literacy class. So proud of them all.
  • The women's underwear has been distributed for the year - almost 2000 pairs. I cannot tell you how much the women look forward to this and how much they appreciate it.
  • Over 100 pairs of sandals went to prisoners without shoes. Would need about 4000 more pairs! The Men's Prison in Rwanda ( population 6800) would love 1-2 sewing machines, as would an ex-offender in Goma who has completed the sewing training.
  • We had a new batch of uniforms made for the little daycare kids in Musanze Prison. They cannot come out to the pre-school if they do not have a uniform
  • There is always a great demand for Bibles and commentaries. Goma juveniles need charcoal or wood to cook the occasional food they get. The doctor at Musanze Prison begged us to look for dental services as many prisoners are suffering needlessly. The needs are endless....Thankfully the Ebola crisis seems to be under control.

Otherwise, our daily routine continues with hospitality starting at breakfast, regular trips to the Petit Sanctuaire Goma, various prisons with counselling, exercise programs, Bible studies, providing warm clothing to the frail and sick The Rwanda prison milk program to the palliative prison ward is a precious time. Just before I left for Canada, I was there with Chaplain Fine. (We offer warm milk to those who can no longer eat or swallow and pray with them several times a week). This year, a friend in Canada had made bed pads which we had shipped over. We visited with B., a genocide perpetrator, very sick with AIDS, and helped him off the bare bed and onto a padded sheet. Then Fine held him up and he had a cup of warm milk. He looked at me with a huge smile and said 'Bon Voyage'! Some hours later he was gone - to a far better place.

Again, immense gratitude to all of you for supporting us and praying for us in this privileged adventure.

Judy and the
Just.Equipping teams

July 2018

Dear Friends:

On this glorious summer Sunday, we are thankful for the privilege of being able to write to you to share some of the events coming up in the next 6 weeks.

  • Earlier in the year, we held a 'Women's Day ' at the Grand Sanctuaire in Gisenyi. It was wonderful. Now the men are jealously claiming their 'Men's Day' in August. Pray that the sharing which happens will lead to healing and solidarity, and that the teaching will be helpful and fun.
  • Two more WoW groups (DRC) will be graduating from their sewing classes. Pray that these young women will be marked with eternal hope, and that they will find employment.
  • The 'English Class' will also be holding a graduation ceremony in the Musanze Prison for men (Rwanda). This is always a remarkably moving time as staff join with us in congratulating these men and exhorting them to make major changes in their lives. Part of the celebration will be the presentation of a T-shirt which reads HELLO on the front and GOD BLESS YOU on the back. These become very coveted items!
  • We will be holding our biennial overnight reunion with key victims who were part of the Letters Project and who also facilitated our team in finding several hundred other victims in the hills who received letters from offenders asking forgiveness. It is time to check in with them once again to see how their lives are unfolding, how their communities are changing, and how they are living peace with their offenders.
  • We will continue to meet with aging and sick prisoners and deliver milk, warm clothing (hundreds of pieces have been given out), prayer and 'song and dance and exercise' times.
  • Once again over 1400 women were gifted with new underwear. Small thing, big impact! An enormous thank you to all the Canadian women who amazingly gather bags and bags of underwear and get them to us each year. Wow!
  • Burundi is now classified by some as the poorest country in the world. Jean Bosco and his teams were only able to visit 6 of the 12 prisons this month - due to lack of transportation money - but they were able to bring in some soap. Remember these saints. Remember also the team meeting which will be held in Bujumbura this coming week.
  • Many of the chaplains, particularly in DRCongo, are distressed by the fact that they cannot afford to keep their kids in school. This is a big problem and a source of immense grief to so many of our families. They are really hurting from the consequences, and some of the young people are making very dangerous life choices rather than trying to survive in their difficult milieu. Please God, may there be a solution to this systemic disaster.

Pierre and I are running on a bit of an energy deficit. Need frequent oil changes! Otherwise, we are happy and honoured to be part of this JE story.

With deepest appreciation, Judy
and Just-Equipping, Board of Directors
and Simeon and DRC team, Fine and Rwanda team, Jean Bosco and Burundi team
and So Many Others!

April 2018

Dear Pray-ers:

  • It is April again, the month of genocide commemoration in Rwanda. There are many events and programs around this memorial time. All carry both the healing and suffering of remembrance. No families are left untouched. Remember our friends -Fine, Nelson, Canisius, Deo, Etienne and others - as they try to facilitate communication in this minefield of life here on earth. They are faithful servants despite - or perhaps because of - their own personal tragedies.
  • The politico-economic situation in DRCongo remains grim. There are large and small outbreaks of violence across the country with many organizations left scratching their heads about the best ways to help. Internal and external migration is severe. Children are suffering. Everyone is hungry. The prisons, always last on the ladder, are dismal and inhumane, places of death. Simeon, Assani and the Goma team continue to chip away at pastoral counselling, teaching and de-bugging and sanitizing. We are hoping that there may be some support from the MONUSCO for the cleaning projects we are involved in as they are costly. There are over 2600 people in the central complex now...Could we dream that it will become a place of resurrection? Even new life?
  • Jean Bosco and the Burundi team have been into every prison on a monthly basis, sometimes with soap or salt, depending on resources. They are wondering how they will continue. Pray for travel costs for the volunteers, for their safety and the encouragement they bring. We are particularly excited about the work being done in the rural communities with women at risk. Small farming efforts have kept them from dangerous and illegal ways of getting food money.
  • You can understand the need for discretion in all these efforts. We consider it a privilege that you have sent us to see, taste and feel these realities that are so far from our own in so many ways. And yet, we are all the same -hearts rejoicing and aching, needing God's comfort, assurance and renewal. Thank you.

Judy for Just.Equipping

February 2018

Dear Pray-ers:

  • We are beginning our 12th year here in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. We can't believe it ourselves!
  • It is annual meeting time and it is really a joy to meet with the team leaders from Burundi, RDCongo and Rwanda and check in on where the ministry projects are going.
  • The best way to express our immense gratitude to you all may be to share some brief points from one of the reports:
    RWANDA 2017 submitted by Chaplains Fine, Nelson, Kizungu:
    • We continue to regularly meet with the offenders who have met with their genocide victims as well as maintaining a supportive contact with many of the victims...
    • We have also been able to do some follow-up with offenders outside of the Letters Project....
    • We have spent much time 'Listening', particularly to those who have had no contact with the outside world for 15, 20, 23 years ....
    • We have begun focussing on the very old and very sick, especially with the milk ministry and have journeyed with them as they passed from this life....
    • We have done telephone follow-up with offenders' families in the community....
    • We visited weekly the prisoners hospitalized in Gisenyi Hospital....
    • We have had several meetings with the adolescents incarcerated for drugs (called 'les coqs' because they are so hungry they eat grains and crumbs they find dropped on the ground) who are very damaged....
    • We have given out a lot of clothing to the men whose things have worn out and fallen apart because they have been in prison for so long without any outside visits. The elderly and sick are very cold at night as the prison is high up in the mountains....
    • We have paid transportation for elderly and sick prisoners who were released but too feeble to walk or find their way home....
    • Since October we have set aside time to meet with prisoners serving a life sentence and who have lost all hope or interest in living. We listen, exhort, counsel and pray with them....
    • We have provided material for literacy and English courses in 4 prisons. We have conducted graduation ceremonies....
    • We have followed up with case management for several people....
    • We have great cooperation with medical officers and refer cases to them. At times we have been able to find some needed medication....
    • We have received many people at the Petit Sanctuaire Gisenyi who came for a time to pray and meditate and rest....
    • We have provided material for uniforms and teaching materials and occasional food supplements for the toddlers in Musanze Prison as well as party days with them....

Rejoice with us in what is happening in this most challenging of worlds! We thank God for you and groups like the ex-offenders from Montreal who provided funds for a bag of sandals for Rubavu Prison. We thank God for the chaplaincy teams. It's all amazing.


November 2017

Dear Pray-ers:

  • Chaplain Fine's stay in Canada has come and gone. To all who had a chance to meet her, offer her hospitality or involve her in some activity, thank you! She learned how to ride escalators and elevators, use the underground metro, take the train, stay away from high-priced stores. She was astounded at the amount of food we consume and the ever-present glasses of water at the table. She feels that the prisons she visited offered living conditions far better than what she and her friends have at home.She gleaned some new ideas from our programs, wondered at the number of cars around and the number of kilometres we drive every day and the lack of people along the way. She was astounded at how many of us live alone, how beautiful our country is and how welcoming Canadians are. She missed the mountains and the Rwanda Team and her daily work, despite its enormous challenges. What an adventure!
  • The week after she returned, our dear friend and former leader of the Letters Project, Chaplain Lazare, died unexpectedly. He leaves his wife Tamar and 10 children and several grandchildren. The future will be very difficult for all and they have requested your prayers.
  • Jean Bosco in Burundi and his volunteer team continue to plough through constant challenges to get into the prisons once a month. They need protection and resources.
  • Goma, DRCongo, has once again lit up with fires and violent deaths. Simeon and his team had just managed as best as possible in the aftermath of a fire in the prison due to hunger and harsh conditions. Once again, they are tried beyond imagination. Pray for good governance, that people of faith and integrity will prevail, that kindness will be valued and that our team will have the wisdom and courage to carry on.
  • Donations in kind have been flooding into the office and a 'Buckingham' team has spent hours carefully itemizing and packing them into suitcases which will need to be fumigated and shipped - at a cost! (Hundreds of these items have been given out in the various prisons with a focus this year on the elderly and sick).
  • We hope to return in January. It is hard to be separated in difficult times.
  • Joy and sorrow, light and dark, life and death, peace and turmoil. May we have the wisdom to accept all that we are confronted with, and may we be bearers of hope in the midst of it all. Thank you for hanging in with us all.


August 2017

Dear Pray-ers:

  • Pierre and I are in Canada for the summer and enjoying our little old house in Gatineau. Our hearts, however, are very much still in the Great Lakes region of Africa, as the challenges there abound!
  • The Rwanda team has been doing a fabulous job working with the elderly and sick 'génocidaires' in the Rubavu Prison. We have had great joy meeting with small groups of about 35 of them at a time. We sing, share and pray together. Then we do our exercises - which is hilarious, always wondering which of us will topple over first. Chaplains Fine, Nelson and Kizungu have handed out several hundred pieces of warm clothing to the very frail who are cold at night. Many have only this contact with the outside world. As they are slowly released back into their communities after many years, the chaplaincy team has occasionally been able to pave the way for their re-integration, meeting with family and others, facilitating reconciliation opportunities and arranging for and accompanying them on the ride home. This is an emotional, intensive and expensive undertaking. We are thankful to be a small part of it.
  • This week the team in Goma, RDC were witness to a horrific event. A fire was set in the part of the Musenze Prison housing the women and juveniles with whom Simeon and his team work regularly. The cause appears to have been mounting despair at not receiving food for up to four days. The conditions are disastrous, and we ask for your prayers for the chaplains as they try to figure out what to do next in what seems like an impossible situation.
  • Jean Bosco amazingly has been able to visit all the Burundi prisons again this month. It is extremely difficult to find transportation money and food contributions to bring to each institution, but God has protected him and his team and we are so grateful for their faithfulness.
  • We had hoped to bring 5 team leaders to Canada this fall for a short program. Four were refused visas by Immigration Canada - with no recourse. So Chaplain Fine (Ms Delphine Furaha) will come alone in September. We want this trip to be a time of much needed rest, encouragement and renewal for her. (She is very excited and nervous - first time away!).
  • Thank you for allowing us to share these few snippets of real life with you - in all their horribleness and joy. Because of God's grace and your support.


May 2017

Dear Pray-ers:

  • Hoping to get this off to you while we are still connected to the internet. Has been an iffy affair the last while.
  • This is the big week when we receive the class of graduating WoW girls for a two-day deal here in Rwanda. (You know, sleeping 20 on mattresses on the floor at the Petit Sanctuaire Gisenyi, swimming for the first time in Lake Kivu wearing the pants we make for the prisoners, getting a pedicure and facial, eating out at the Auberge, the local buffet diner, and of course, the Certificate ceremony and gift basket. WoW! Pray for ease at the boarder crossing. Also that the water would come back on at the Petit Sanctuaire (has been off for couple months now). Not to mention that the plumbing would hold up. Plumber is here as I write.
  • The re-structuring at the Petit Sanctuaire Goma, RDC, is going well, after the big move to a new rental in January. Change is hard, though, and the new 'Production Unit' is under a lot of stress to succeed and be helpful in the broader prison ministry - which remains as challenging as ever.
  • Remember little M. who has just been released from prison. She is small, very underage and 'accused' of sexual assault. Her trauma has left her unable to speak, but willing to stay close to the other WoW girls and perhaps pick up some sewing....
  • The visa saga continues. Fine has been approved to come to Canada for a month. Three others have been refused and are on appeal. One case is pending.
  • The situation in Burundi is grim - pray....
  • Thank God for the many blessings we have, and that many times we are not even aware of....Rule of Law, food, (snake-free) housing, safety, medicine, public and private transportation, freedom to move around, clean water, toilet paper, education, social security, access to information,....well, you can see where I am going with this!

Delighted, as always, that you are surrounding us in prayer.

Judy and Pierre

April 2017

Dear Pray-ers:

  • The annual Genocide Commemoration in Rwanda begins today, April 7. It is a time of great emotion and introspection. Much has been accomplished in terms of reconciliation and reconstruction. Much will always remain as painful reminders of an unspeakable time. Pray for our team as they continue to face these challenges head on, fearlessly and with enormous compassion and hope.
  • Simeon and the Goma team have successfully moved into our new rental house. Thanks to the Heaven's Family partnership and special donations from YOU, we have solar electricity, reservoirs to collect rain water, a new program configuration, and a stream-lined team. This has taken a lot of time and energy, but they are ready! Please pray that they will be given wisdom, protection and optimism despite the harsh and unstable conditions.
  • So many of our collaborators would like their own home, a good education for themselves and their children, and more secure health care. These are legitimate concerns and would certainly preoccupy us were we in their shoes. May God's will be done for them.
  • Jean Bosco and his team in Burundi carry on with prison visitation against all odds. They must constantly reapply for permission, skirt internal conflict, and look for the means not only to get around and eat themselves but also to find transportation to prison and the funds to bring something to the inmates, whether it be a box of soap or a bag of flour. It is a persistent strain. Courage!
  • In Rwanda, Fine and her team have been focussing on follow-up with the elderly and palliative cases, giving out milk, warm clothes, counselling and optimism. Many have never had a visit in 15 - 20 years. Hope incarnate.
  • There are lots of joy moments as well: literacy graduation ceremonies, underwear distribution, exercise routines, creative crafting, milk or beignets or sometimes even a meal together. All because of your faithfulness. We continue to recognize the privilege of being your hands and feet.
  • Pierre and I return May 1. We need physical strength and God's unfailing direction. And the world needs peace.

February 2017

Dear Pray-ers:

  • Yesterday Chaplain Fine and Eileen spent the day at the women's prison here in Rwanda. They were able to deliver 10 care packages to the pregnant and new mothers. The packages were received with tears of joy. Then they had an exercise session with the very old men and women who have been there since '94. Several kept toppling over in gales of laughter as they tried their best to follow the leader. Followed up with some good listening time with a group who have not had a visitor in 15, 20 years or more. A great time.
  • We felt privileged today to spend February 14 in the men's prison also here in Rwanda. We are thankful for the groundwork set by our 'Rwanda 3' chaplains which allows us to be welcomed with open arms and to have easy access to the fellows. First we had a good time with the 400 offenders who have met with their genocide victim survivors. They tell us their heads are full with nowhere to put their thoughts and so they are very grateful for these moments of sharing. Many of them have begun to sleep through the night without nightmares. Many of the victims have been unbelievably generous in helping the offenders with bits of food, or school fees for their children. All miracles of grace.
  • Jean-Bosco, Burundi, organized a meeting last weekend in Bujumbura for 35 clergy to expose them to prison chaplaincy. He is very pleased with the results. Some were receptive, some very opposed, but the issue was presented and God will do with it what He chooses.
  • Simeon and the team in Goma survived the move to a new rental property - bigger but unfinished with NO water and security problems. Thanks to the generosity of Heaven's Family we have lighting from a solar panel system! Many challenges remain, particularly as the prison conditions continue to be abysmal and violent. Also, the computer and other equipment stolen.
  • Working actively on getting five leaders from DRCongo, Burundi and Rwanda to Canada for one month next August-September. We would like to offer them a time of rest and planning for the future as well as a chance to see some Canadian programs. The two major challenges are finances and visas. The excitement around this possibility is palpable!
  • Please pray for all these people who are doing little things that are such big things in God's scheme of things. They need courage, staying power, health, safety and total confidence in divine guidance.

July 2016

  • Pierre and I will be at home in Canada the next couple of weeks. We are hoping to rest up and re-energize a bit. The trick is to not always be thinking about what we could be doing! To our great delight, work continues full steam ahead without us.
  • The ministry at Musanze Prison in Rwanda is focussed at present on the sick and elderly, many of whom have not had visits for 10-20 years. The chaplaincy team chats, counsels and prays with them. They are given warm clothes, something for their feet, and the possibility of reconciliation with their family, victims or community is broached. Their joy and appreciation is astounding. Remember chaplains Fine, Nelson and Kizungu.
  • In Goma, there are three sewing workshops at the Petit Sanctuaire: the WoW group of 20-25 vulnerable girls, a class for local girls who contribute a small fee, and the production group of graduates who are desperately trying to get contracts for things like school uniforms. Pray for these efforts and for encouragement for all the participants.
  • The prison ministry in Goma continues to be hard, needy and exactly what we are called to do: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, bringing good news. Pray for Simeon, Assani and all the team as they never give up despite formidable odds (and bugs). And clean water!
  • Jean Bosco and his team of volunteers (100% !) visit all the outlying prisons of Burundi on a regular basis. As soon as they have funds for transportation and a bag of beans or soap or salt, they set out. Their office was vandalized lately and the computer and printer stolen which makes their work that much more difficult. They are an inspiration.
  • We ask in particular that God would grant safety and protection as the Great Lakes area is rife with conflict, partisan violence and political sensitivities. This always overshadows the daily needs and everyday concerns of the ordinary people who want only their dignity and survival.

Thank you for your solidarity with us in this strange world which God loves.


March 2016

  • We will spend Good Friday tomorrow with Simeon's team at the Petit Sanctuaire Goma. There will be tea and a special time of sharing what Good Friday means for each of them. We are looking forward to their reflections as they 'carry on' despite much hardship. Three of the chaplains spent the day here today at the Grand Sanctuaire, and as one said - we have nothing. We need everything.
  • Lillian has managed to empty the suitcases shipped last week and sort out into the different categories your gifts for our many care packages. Fine has made a list of the very old and weak men in Rubavu Prison which is on a mountain and very cold at night. Most of these genocide perpetrators have not been visited for 10, 15, 20 years and so own nothing except their very flimsy cotton pink or orange jail suit. The warm jackets, socks or long-sleeved shirts and occasional footwear are received with tears of thanksgiving. It is hard to convey to you their appreciation. We were also able to buy some 'babouches' - heavy plastic sandals, which will be given to those who cannot sew the old pieces together any more.
  • We are trying to put together a larger meeting of those involved with us in prison work in the Great Lakes area April 1-2. It has been several years since we have been together as a group. Pray that the Burundi people will be able to make it. Pierre is planning to do a teaching review of Restorative Justice principles and prison chaplaincy. We need energy both to receive people and to teach.
  • The Letters Project phasing out is going very well. Chaplains Fine, Nelson and Kizungu have met with all the available offenders who had a personal meeting with their victim survivors. The testimonies have been deeply moving, and the overwhelming result is a sense of peace and a lack of fear to return to community. We need wisdom to decide whether to share these results with the Correctional authorities for future action.
  • We are also planning an overnight gathering of the special group of victim-survivors who helped us locate other victims over the 7 years of the project. They called, hiked and investigated for us and saved our team hours and hours of searching. This will take place during the month of April, genocide commemoration time. Pray for peace, balm for their souls.

Feel like I should limit myself to these items so as not to swamp you.We wonder how you all are. We are immensely thankful for your gifts and prayers which allow us to continue in our hobbling sort of way.

with Resurrection thoughts,

November 2015

  • As you know, this mission involves a lot of updating, fine-tuning and pruning. Change is never easy, especially after working on the same projects for several years together. Nevertheless, it is time to put everything on the table and look to the future. We need divine guidance for this. Hard, but exciting!
  • The Letters Project (delivery of 430 letters, 280+ victim-offender meetings in prison) comes to an end in December. It has been amazing grace. Should we take on more letters? Have more victim-offender meetings in prison? Would the finances come through again? We are blown away by God's grace every week.
  • The 2014 graduates of the WoW sewing centre in Goma have been waiting for their 2-day celebration in Gisenyi with us for a year. It will take place November 12-13. Remember the 20 girls and 4 instructors who will cross over. (We need more energy, mattresses, sheets and towels…).
  • We are holding our first ever Goma Women's Day November 19 here at the Grand Sanctuaire. Eighteen members of the Goma team or their spouse will spend the day together, study our theme, eat out, have a flea market at the house here. Pray that it will be lots of fun and relaxation for all.
  • November 16, we go to the women's prison in Musanze (Ruhengeri). We will present certificates of completion to 35 women who have been taking crafting courses (along with a little cantina money), and the annual baby packages to 50 prisoners who are there with their children 3 and under. We are thankful for the fine instructors and leaders in this prison (they are women prisoners themselves) - Patricie and her team. Remember the heartbreak as the children who are older are removed from their mothers and sent to extended family somewhere.
  • We have had lots of electricity and water cuts, but very few visits by repairmen so far. Great.
  • Simeon needs wisdom, health, discernment for the daily incredibly difficult situations that arm of the ministry presents.
  • The latest three Bugesera water taps are completed. At the same time, thanks to friends in Buckingham, we were able to leave 23 chickens with the neediest families in the villages. Joy.
  • We had a touching moment this morning when our cook-houseman, Samson, asked if he could leave early. He had saved enough from his salary to buy a couple of bags of cement and he was going to finish the floor in one room of his house. Joy again.

We are 'lonesome-er' this time. Miss you all and count on your prayers.


July 2015

Dear Pray-ers:

Happy Canada Day Everyone! What a blessed and privileged land! We have our flags up on the balcony, and our Canada toothpicks in the dish. Yahoo!

  • We have done our 6 weeks here in Gisenyi and will leave in a couple of days for the summer (and tests) in Canada. You have prayed us through this comeback, and we hope to return to a regular schedule here in September.
  • Despite not being the Energizer bunnies, we were able to spend time with all the members of our Rwanda, Burundi and DRCongo teams. The theme of Mission 10 is 'Listening' (Isaiah 30: 18-21). We tried to listen carefully and to understand where these amazing people are and have been for the last year in their work and personal lives. We are certainly aware of the issues and certainly cannot solve them. Only God...but it is a joy to be part of this together.
  • There were over 110 packed into our little Petit Sanctuaire house in Goma last week. Twenty more GBV (gender-based violence) girls graduated from the sewing course in 2014 and are waiting for their party with us in the fall. By then another 30 will have completed the course. Would love to give each graduate her own sewing machine so that she could become self-supporting. Right now these girls do not even have diapers for their babies (which makes for an interesting Daycare program).
  • Care bags are flying out of the house with fresh new underwear going to ladies in several prisons and programs as well as chaplains' and families. This has been such a blessing! Thank you to Eva, Vaila, Bethany and Ottawa women and many others. Cannot tell you what a day-brightener this is for the women.
  • Thanks to generous gifts, we have completed 3 more water projects in Rwandan reconciliation villages, a wall (of literal protection) around a female chaplain's house, and helped another chaplain's 2 sons start in medicine and geology. Maybe a turning point for this impoverished family...!
  • Our key man in Goma, Simeon, has still not been able to get a satisfactory medical follow-up to a serious diagnosis. Need wisdom regarding follow-up - or just outright healing!
  • 'Gisenyi Go'! Despite being stretched beyond our limits, with the encouragement of friends, we are trying out a new project to respond to the desperate need for respite and PTSD among the chaplains. We are opening the Petit Sanctuaire Gisenyi as a rest and retreat place for chaplains from Goma, Saturday - Monday 3 weekends a month. Fine will be hostess and there will be an evaluation in September. Will need some income to make this happen. Pray that the dollar rate goes back up, too!
  • Victims continue to come for dinner Tuesday and then to meeting with their offender on Wednesday morning. Each one's story is sacred and heart-breaking. Each meeting in prison, however difficult, filled with grace.
  • Word came this week in the middle of a meeting that a little 5-year old boy who had been missing since Friday after school was found drowned in a latrine pit on the church school grounds where 2 of our chaplains minister. Working hard to be present in this tragedy in a meaningful way.

Thank you for remembering us - more important to us than you will ever know.


May 2015

Dear Pray-ers:

As I write to you during this beautiful Advent season, I realize that the name of the game is 'Waiting'.

  • After several months of medical interventions in Canada, Pierre and I are heading back to Rwanda. We expect to leave June 1.
  • We are so proud of all the chaplaincy teams who have carried on, showing their flexibility and understanding with postponements and changes in plans.
  • Lillian and Luc did a wonderful job with the latest water project for the Rwandan village of Murama. We have received funds to complete 3 more connections to 3 neighbouring villages. Truly 'drinking at the streams of Living Water' thanks to God's grace and your generosity.
  • Thank God for Simeon's leadership in DRC. The small setting for the WoW women in Goma continues to be problematic, and we continue to search for means of sustainability and safety for them and the children.
  • It is a constant challenge to honour our commitments at the Goma prisons, particularly keeping up the de-bugging and hygiene needs.
  • The last planned stage of the Letters Project relating to genocide mediation in the Rubavu Rwanda prison is almost over. We must now decide whether we have the means to do more. The Rwanda team of 5 is incredible but suffering from secondary PTS. Just this week, the survivors at the meeting, a couple, had lost their brother-in-law and his 6 children. They were all buried alive, the event still an open wound 20 years later. Thank God, meeting with the offenders means a new phase of life for all concerned.
  • Please pray for wisdom as we get up-to-date with all the projects, discern the future and really listen to our co-workers. In our own strength, we are not capable.
  • Pray also for political and factional peace as the three countries we are involved in (DRCongo, Burundi and Rwanda) are all experiencing tensions at the moment. May strong emotions de-escalate, and may selfless leadership full of integrity and compassion prevail.

Thank you for hanging in!


December 2014

Dear Pray-ers:

As I write to you during this beautiful Advent season, I realize that the name of the game is 'Waiting'.

  • Just as Abraham and Sarah had so much difficulty waiting for God's perfect will, so we today want to jump in with our own plans. Prayer for patience to be still and know that He is God.
  • The work in Goma, DRC, continues at a fast pace with ever-increasing needs. Simeon is too busy. Pray that he will be able to catch his breath and wait in peace.
  • We wait on decisions as to whether or not we can get our own place for the WoW centre in Goma which has long outgrown the little rented house.
  • The people of Goma wait for stability, safety, good governance and relief from crushing poverty and sickness.
  • Our team in Rwanda waits earnestly for the day when the intense pain involved in sitting down and sharing with victims and offenders will end.
  • The Rwandan team also waits for a greatly needed personal renewal, as they have been working in traumatic circumstances for years.
  • Jean Bosco in Burundi is waiting for any support for the work he and his team do in the prisons and after-release programs in Burundi.
  • Pascal and the Murama villagers are waiting with great anticipation for the completion of the water project.
  • We all wait in faith for the means to continue all these things.
  • Personally, Pierre and I are waiting impatiently for the beginning of February to travel again after his health issues grounded us for several months.

I am tempted to add all the things that we are thankful for, but perhaps in the next email, after the 'fullness of time'.

Thank you for waiting together with us in hope.


June 2014

  • Pierre and I are back in Canada for the summer. We have a series of medical appointments and tests, house and yard work, grandkids and preparation for the next mission, so the time will fly!
  • The work in Goma, DRC, under Simeon's capable leadership is growing by leaps and bounds. We wonder where the capacity for a bigger clientele and more responsibility will come from and just trust that the Lord provides according to his will. Simeon needs strength and wisdom.
  • The women at WoW have started working on the 1000+ pairs of pants that we will provide to the Central Prison in Goma. This is an enormous and exciting work project for these girls and will really stretch them and their teachers, Balon and Josée. Hoping the old treadle machines with their bits and pieces repairs will withstand the challenge.
  • Conditions in prison continue to be SO difficult. Pray for food and clean water for the men and women, integrity within the administration, good learning in the literacy and Bible classes, and safety for the chaplains, especially Assani, Ezekiel, Aimérance, Trésor and Monique.
  • In the Juvenile section of the Goma Prison, we continue to welcome and clothe newcomers, de-bug and counsel as well as offer literacy and medical services. Huge resources needed.
  • A bigger facility is still critical for the Goma work. We need legal advice and solutions and an indication that funding would be a possibility. Meantime, some days about 100 people are stuffed into the Petit Sanctuaire.
  • Last year's theme was 'A spirit of excellence' from the study of Daniel. We are really trying to do everything well and to constantly improve. It has been a steep learning curve, particularly in administrative and reporting skills. The Goma team also received its first computer and is working at becoming computer literate (notwithstanding the constant lack of electricity).
  • The Letters Project in Rwanda continues to welcome victims weekly who travel down to Gisenyi to meet in prison with the offenders who decimated their families and tore up their lives during the genocide. Our team of five chaplains has been at this for several years now and they are war-weary in this battle for healing and inner peace. It is never easy to listen to this much pain. Remember them every Monday and Tuesday when these meetings take place.
  • Remember the 'Great Canadian Underwear Drive' and other efforts to 'fill the basket' before we return in September.

Have a wonderful summer but don't stop praying!


April 2014

You are our resurrection! You have kept us alive over the months and years that you have followed us here in the Great Lakes region of Africa. We often feel that without all of you, we would be pushing daisies!

  • Our Easter weekend began on Good Friday with a heart-searching session of asking forgiveness among our teams here, and we are trusting that the effects of this will be amazing.
  • The 20th anniversary of the genocide (month of April) has been meaningful but subdued. Twenty years later there is a new generation of children who want to move on. The balance between the undiminished hurts of some and the future perspective of others is not always easy. We have tried to spend this month listening, talking very little.
  • The Letters Project - on hold during April- will start again next week. Pray for the psychic and spiritual energy needed by all for this extremely difficult work. Requests to be part of this project keep streaming in and it is so hard to say no when we know how restoring the process has been for everyone involved.
  • Remember Burundi's team 'Barnabas Africa'. Chaplain John Bosco's home was severely damaged by rains last month and he has no wall, water, electricity, windows in his old car, etc. Fine had a wonderful visit (she went in my place, to my great appreciation) there with Ida and the Women's Prisons ministries where they are concentrating on literacy and agriculture. Thank God for this tough work amidst great poverty.
  • Finding a new place for the Goma work is again in a Holy Fog. We have found a possible property, but not the finances or the legal capacities to purchase. So, we remain crammed into the WoW centre - where we will wait until 'the appointed time'.
  • The first 15 girls graduated from the sewing program and we had a two-day bash over here at the Grand Sanctuaire with them. Went swimming in the lake, ate, had beauty sessions, ate, sang, ate, slept very little, ate, had a diploma ceremony, ate. Great fun and the first time out of the country for most.
  • A wonderful answer to our request for funds to make 1000 pairs of pants for the main prison: one of you has made this project possible. The team under Captain Ezekiel is now sourcing the material, etc. The girls are very excited.This will keep the workshop running for several months. Never without complications of course - the population has risen by more than 100 in the last month, and the director has asked for t-shirts as well….One headache at a time….
  • Hunger continues to be the main problem at the EGEE (Juveniles). Sometimes they do not eat for days and get very sick, especially with diarrhea. They have been burning old rubber shoes for fuel to heat water. Still, it is out of this black hole that we have seen Easter in action. Simeon's team discovered that one of the kids was Rwandan - in a Congolese prison. He had been abducted several years earlier when he was 13 and smuggled across the border to work as a field hand in the interior. Last year, he was returning from selling milk when he happened upon his boss - strangled and left in the field. He was picked up and thrown into jail. It was discovered that the older shepherds had killed the 'patron' because he had not paid them in 2 years, but Jean Pierre was singled out for the crime. Between the Goma and Rwanda chaplaincy teams and Pierre (who signed at Immigration that Jean Pierre was his son), we got him into Gisenyi, found his mother in the mountains after 4 days, and had a very teary reunion here at the Grand Sanctuaire. We sent him off with clothes and registration money for school and many prayers. We left them with Gravel for the bus and moto ride home as you can imagine how he had stuffed himself for 4 days. He has a new beginning offered to him - an Easter moment to remember.


February 2014

  • This week we are expecting 6 friends from Heaven's Family USA. They will be looking at Simeon's PJIRIDI in Goma. They have been a blessing to the work there.
  • Next week we are having a 3-day chaplains' meeting here at the Grand Sanctuaire Gisenyi - expecting 25 from ICOPUR, PJIRIDI and Barnabas Africa - the whole family! Please pray for safe travel, a profitable time together looking at chaplaincy and ministry issues, and rest, especially for those from DRCongo. Also, that the water and electricity will stay running and that we will find enough mattresses!
  • We are preparing the baby packages, underwear and craft helps for the women in the Ruhengeri Prison. May we have the words and attitudes to be an encouragement to them.
  • Our responsibilities at the EGEE, Juvenile lock-up in Goma, continue to be huge. We need to find a second set of clothes for 70 young boys and 5 girls so that the clothes they come into custody with can be burned because of various body bugs. It is a constant battle to keep the vermin at bay - no water, no soap, no disinfectant, daily hunger and thirst. A couple of boys tied pants, hand towels and mattress covers together and escaped over the wall, so these things have been confiscated and will have to be renegotiated (and most probably lost in the shuffle). Newcomers have to be showered down, shaved and dressed. Expensive, even for the chaplains to find moto money to get to the prison to do this.
  • The Literacy Project is off to a slow start - pray for this effort as it will change these young lives.
  • Pray for cooperation among the staff and integrity in the use of material goods.
  • Pray for cooperation with Heal Africa Hospital and continued stability in the region (not a given!).
  • The Letters Project victims continue to come to the Petit Sanctuaire every week. Last week, Verie, in her 30s and very traumatized, told of crawling out from under her parents' dead bodies and running into the bush to hide. She hardly speaks and when she does, it is in a very soft, low voice. But - she said she wanted to come herself to meet her offender and tell him in person that she forgave him and that he was welcome back into the community. This was particularly poignant for the team as the offender was not very forthcoming, would not reveal where her family's bodies had been buried, and would have merited a much less compassionate reception. God's grace is amazing.
  • We have a lead on a fantastic property in Goma with usable buildings and room for a garden and expansion. A safe place for the WoW women. What should we do? Where would the financing come from?
  • We are well and appreciate beyond words your support and the chaplaincy teams we work with here.. There is all kinds of work to do!

We thank God for everything.


Summer 2013

Here we are, mid-summer, and still counting on your prayers for so many things.

  • The situation in Goma is calm at the moment, but there has been sporadic fighting in and around the city since we left. Our team is strong, but nerves get frayed. Pray for safety.
  • The Central Prison in Goma - which suffered huge damage last year after the rebel take-over, was again looted in a riot in June. Pray that peace will prevail and that we will be able to rebuild this fall. They need oil lamps (especially in the women's section), soap and hygiene products, literacy materials, medecine, food, clothes and bedding - the list is endless.
  • The Petit Sanctuaire in Goma - a rented facility - is for sale by the owner. We will have to find a new home for our ministry centre, the WoW project (Women's Wellness), sewing workshop, literacy program and dispensary.
  • The medical team is starting public health courses (with a new projector, Praise God!) on various health issues. So important.
  • The Rwanda chaplaincy team, ICOPUR, is feeling the effects of secondary trauma, even if the work of RJ meetings is going very well. They need strength and renewal.
  • Over 200 more meetings in prison left to do on the Letters Project, and each one costs about $175USD.
  • We need authorization renewed to go inside the Rwanda prisons.
  • More funding is needed for the next mission.
  • We hope to have all medical appointments over with good results to be able to return in September.
  • Our house in Gisenyi has been repainted and plastered. Pray that the mould problem is solved.

What can I say? We continue in fear and trembling. We go in confidence and expectation. Mostly, we shake our heads at ourselves and chuckle at our temerity and your faithfulness.

Judy and Pierre and all the Just.Equipping team

February 2013

Pray-ers 3, 2013

Thank you for your intentions for us last week. The meetings in prison went well. In the first case, the offender was not only forthcoming about his role in the genocide, but also agreed to ask publicly in April for forgiveness from our local community here in Gisenyi for having buried, dead or alive, about three thousand people. This should have a very positive effect on the community which became known as 'the commune rouge' because of all the bloodshed. In the second case, the two brothers, the offender admitted that he had killed the Tutsi mother and lied to his father and the village about his involvement. He agreed to write a letter to his father and the village saying that his half brother had been right all along and that they should stop persecuting him. Hopefully a good start on restoring both a family and a village. All so painful, though.

Fine's housewarming yesterday was a great success - lots of people, food, singing and dancing, sermons and testimonies, a house tour, rented plastic chairs, ululating, heat and dust and special Rwandan costumes. She was truly excited and appreciative as was all her family who came from far and wide. Thank you for this miracle, Madelaine. Just a side comment on God's goodness. Over Christmas, Soph and I had stuffed all the curtains I could fit into a suitcase for me to bring back for Fine's house. When we finished dressing every window last week, not one window was missing a curtain, nor was there one left over. Loaves and fishes.

The Goma political situation is holding. The young pregnant girl was released this week. There is a possibility of some funding towards the Women's Wellness Centre in the Petit Sanctuaire. Last week the place was packed with the girls and their babies. We were there for the mid-day cup of watery porridge which they all appreciate so much. The sewing workshop is operating but we have no material to practice on. The literacy program is starting up again. We realize that we need to add a sort of daycare facility at the back of the room so that the girls can put their babies down and concentrate better. We would need two caregivers, floor mats, some blankets and toys. The repercussions of sexual violence against women are incredibly far-reaching. Pray for these girls and babies. Pray for D. who was an Interahamwe bush wife in her teens and who has been unable to shake the trauma and physical problems since then.

The biggest challenge at the moment is the Petit Sanctuaire Goma. We have committed to a major renovation - $4400 -which was not in the plans earlier. Chaplain Ezekiel and his family of thirteen live in the room at the back and also act as our watchman (la sentinelle). The indoor and outdoor drains have blocked as has the outdoor latrine. Apparently the construction was faulty (surprise) and all has to be dug up. The girls and children have been running around, often barefoot, in several inches of dirty water in some places. This is a recipe for disaster, and I feel I cannot allow the situation to continue any longer. We will, at the same time, roof and cement the back alley to give another room to Ezekiel, and build an outdoor kitchen room for both the Women's Wellness program and Ezekiel's family - again mainly for health reasons. We are feeding too many people every day to take contamination risks. As you may remember, I was not enchanted with this building from the beginning. My reticence has been somewhat mollified by the fact that this has proven to be a relatively safe part of the city. We did not lose one sewing machine in the looting last fall!

Coming up, we have a very big weekend in Bugesera to celebrate the water project. We will take 10+ RDC and Rwandan chaplains, and about 10 JE friends. It is a long bus ride. We will provide a traditional meal, the media will be there - in other words, a big deal. Pray for all the organizing details, and that people may see the amazing hand of God in all (including the participation of both Rwandans and RDCers).

After many trials (the latest one being the snowstorm), Eileen and Norm should arrive tomorrow, more than a week after their scheduled arrival. Luc and Lillian, the week after. Pray for safety for them.

Pray for energy for Pierre and me. We do not suffer from solitude.

Jacqueline and Gaston's Pam is recovering well from surgery, but Pam's husband Steve is not well. Pray.

Thinking of you all!


November - December 2012

Prayer for Advent 2012

God of waiting and gifting,
reach down into the gut-knotted mess
and, Magician that you are,
grab hold of the one piece that when raised up
straightens, separates, frees all the other threads..
So that untangled, we are laughing, patient magi,
ready for the trip, gift in hand.

JA, December 2012

01 Dec 2012

Dear Pray-ers:

Thank you to so many who have sent a note saying you are praying and thinking about us. We have felt particularly buoyed this time by home connections and we are very grateful.

The situation in Goma and North Kivu, RDC is in an unnatural calm at the moment. Lots of ultimatums given, none heeded. At night there is lots of looting, assaults. In the day, all the various militias in town tend to look at each other over their rifles and stay in their own neighbourhoods. This cannot last, of course, but there are no good guys, no strong favourites. The government troops have no ammunition, no money, no food and little loyalty. The M23 is not large, if you discount the Rwanda - Uganda influence. The Mai Mai tend to fill the vacuum outside of towns that the others have deserted but they are very violent. And on and on. Our team members all have friends going to funerals for people killed in the fighting, but the number of deaths has been relatively low, and most are unreported for political reasons.

Lots of good news!

We are thankful that we had a good day working with the team in Goma yesterday. The streets were empty, banks and shops closed, all the vehicules which had not been conscripted hidden, and guns in evidence everywhere. But, our brave team was working on an action plan. Here are their challenges: The offenders who were released from prison have been 'asked' to return. Some have been picked up but they cannot be returned to the prison, as there are NO doors there! All the doors were removed by people in the neighbourhood after the coup. So they are crammed into 'cachots'. Many magistrates have fled for fear of reprisals. Our team feels burdened to work on reconciliation between victims and offenders in the city to avoid violence and to keep some from returning to jail. Pray for their safety. Pray as we try to refill material for the health and literacy program, furnishings for the Petit Sanctuaire, food, safe water.

In Rwanda, the Victim - Offender meetings for the Letters Project start this week at the Rubavu Prison, about 15 km from the house. We will welcome the victims who will come by bus or moto the night before, feed and coach them for the next day in prison, and offer support and feedback after the meeting before they head home. Exhausting and exhilerating, difficult and full of God's grace.

We had two days of training in Trauma Resilience Model with Jon Nattel from Montreal. As we were giving this course to both teams while the war was going on, you can imagine how relevant it was. There are three more days which will have to be organized while we are away Dec5 - Jan12. This will be a challenge for the teams here.

The 'Build a House for Fine' project should begin Monday. It could not have happened at a better time as she and all her adopted children have to vacate their mud brick house which is no longer safe. It is a complicated project, and we have received about 30% of the funds necessary to finish. Fine is delighted and so thankful.

The Bugesera Water project is going along very well. The women and children will be so relieved to have water in their village. Thank you!

Had an early Christmas gift of goats and chickens for one of the Reconciliation villages!

So many other things going on that we find it hard to pack up this week. We leave Dec 5. I am anxious about the trip. Plan to return around January 12, and expect to have some Canadian team members with us in the new year.

Just pray for anything that comes to mind. We need it all!

Judy and Pierre

22 Nov 2012

Dear Friends:

We have returned to our house in Gisenyi, Rwanda on the RDCongo border. When the rebels took control of the city of Goma, there was relative calm and few fatalities, although all kinds of other trouble. As long as the President does not try to send his troops back, there will probably be peace.

Thank God we are all safe although the little hotel between us and the border was damaged from shooting, and Simeon's roof was damaged in two places with bullets landing on his youngest daughter's bed. We have one of the bullets in our meeting room to remind us to be thankful.

There is no water or electricity in Goma and so people are drinking from the polluted lake. Pray that some infrastructure is put back in place before cholera spreads.

There was some violence at the prison during the take-over. When the government troops retreated at 5:00am, they opened the doors and all the prisoners (over 1500) went free. I had been praying that they would open the doors of the women's and youth section where we work, and they did. I had feared they would be forgotten. So, the jail is empty, both the innocent and the very guilty including 400 military and several M23 leaders are on the streets of this desperate city.

All our equipment and supplies at the prison have disappeared. All the lanterns, educational supplies, infirmary gone. We will have to start over.

Food prices have sky-rocketed and so our chaplains who were very hungry before are suffering.

Those of you who met Christine will want to know that she and her husband in Bukavu are expecting their baby in February. Pray for her safety as well, as some of the rebel forces set out this morning to capture Bukavu. It will take them a couple of days to get there and hopefully that takeover also will be with a minimum of violence.

Pray for our Rwanda team involved with the Letters Project. Things were going well, but this new trauma has left everyone dazed again, shaky and lacking confidence. Some react aggressively and others withdraw. We have a meeting with them this morning.

We count on you and are very thankful to know that you are there for us. We feel privileged to be here at this time and feel that December 5 is coming too quickly.

Judy and Pierre

January, 2012

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for Just.Equipping

At the end of January, an incredible team of climbers reached the summit of Kilimanjaro on behalf of Just.Equipping. We congratulate the team and thank them for their support. Please, read John deVries' article about the climb. It gives you a good idea of what these courageous climbers went through. Bravo and well done!

Mission # 7

Mission # 7 to Rwanda/RD Congo (Goma) and, possibly, Burundi begins on January 20th,2012 until April 20th,2012. Pierre and Judy Allard, Eileen Henderson, Deborah Martin Koop, Luc Desforges and Lillian Amell will join local prison chaplains in their ongoing and challenging projects. Thank you to all of you who are making this trip possible. Keep us in prayer as we try to encourage, equip and journey with key leaders associated with Just.Equipping. We want to remain healthy and full of optimism, humble, teachable and always ready to sacrifice our hot baths and lattes. Our greatest joy will be to know that God has used us in some way to lighten the load for our brothers and sisters. The greatest sense of accomplishment would be to feel that through God’s spirit, justice has been advanced. The greatest fruit will be love and respect among victims, offenders, chaplains and communities. Tall orders! For this reason, we have adopted the verse from Ephesians 3 – depending on the One who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can think or imagine. Thank you for travelling with us!

We want to salute the 13 climbers who hope to reach Mount Kilimanjaro on January 29th as a fund raiser for Just.Equipping. You can follow their exciting expedition at: www.kiliclimb2012.blogspot.com/2011/12/blog-post.html

Pierre and Judy Allard

January, 2011

The Just.Equipping Team leaves January 24, 2011, for three months in the Great Lakes region of Africa. We will be headquartered in Gisenyi, Rwanda. This year the emphasis will be less on group teaching sessions and more on nurturing and journeying with key leaders with whom J. E. has been involved in recent years. These leaders – ordinary extraordinary people – are living out important restorative justice projects at great personal sacrifice. They are heroes in need of encouragement and respite.

We count on your support and prayers!

May - June, 2010

Just.Equipping was delighted to host two international students: Deogratias Gashagaza, Prison Fellowship, Rwanda and Father Babychan, Prison Care Support Network, South Africa.

Deo and Babychan attended the Restorative Justice Spring Intensive session at Queen's School of Religion, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. They then accompanied several Canadian prison chaplains in their various assignments and spent a little bit of time relaxing in Quebec. Special thanks to Father Stan in Kingston, the Quebec and Ontario chaplains who were such gracious hosts, and Eileen Henderson. Deo returned home with more challenges than planned: he broke his ankle playing soccer in Chaplain David Shantz's backyard!


We are deeply saddened by the death of Just.Equipping Board Member,the Reverend Rod Carter, May 2010 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Rod was an inmate, a teacher and a prison chaplain. He became Regional Chaplain, Ontario and was seconded to Queen's Theological College where he was Director of the Restorative Justice program. He was part of our teaching team in India and Africa, he was involved in IPCA, and he taught Week One during the Restorative Justice Spring Intensive session at Queen's. He met many of our international friends and had a heart for justice before God. He was no stranger to depression, but like so many before him, he used it to write intensely moving stories and articles. His personal tragedies - the death of his son Jeff and wife Sally - marked him indelibly and the hill became harder and harder to climb. In the end, he went home to God- where he wanted to be....We miss him. He was a friend, a wise man, a mentor and a prophet. We thank God for his life.


January, 2010

The Just.Equipping team is leaving on February 1st until April 26th for Mission # 5 in Rwanda, RD Congo (north Kivu area) and Burundi. A number of teachers such as Philippe Landenne (Belgium), John de Vries, Eileen Henderson, John and Joan Palardy are joining te team at different times during the mission. The challenges are great, the money is scarce but we are moving on with the confidence that 'in Him all things hold together' (Col. 1:17). Thanks for your continued support which makes these missions possible. Without you we would never get off the ground! - Pierre and Judy

October, 2009

Judy Allard, Pierre Allard and Jeff Denault are leaving on October 18th for three weeks in Rwanda and RD Congo. Supervision of the ongoing projects where Just.Equipping is involved, meeting with correctional officials, planning teaching sessions at the Butaré University and interviews with survivors and genocide perpetrators are the main focus of this mission. A Just.Equipping teaching team will return to the Great Lakes region of Africa for three months in early February 2010.


Summer 2009

Sr. Joe Eke, Nigeria, Justin Mabouth, Cameroon, John Ngabo, Rwanda and Simeon Muhunga, RD Congo took the three weeks intensive training in Restorative Justice at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This was followed by involvement with Correctional Service of Canada chaplains in a variety of institutional and community projects. What a great summer of training and renewal for these four leaders!

Videos 2009

Three new videos have been added to our website. ‘What about us?’- The Bugesera Project; Three Prison Chaplains (featuring Simeon, Kizungu and Adolphine); Trois aumôniers de prison (mettant en vedette Siméon, Kizungu et Adolphine).

Pierre Allard was interviewed on 100 Huntley Street on September 30th, 2009. This interview is also available on the web.

April, 2009

The team is back safe and sound from Africa. Please have a look at our report available here, or on the menu bar on the left. We will also be adding more pictures to the report and posting a new gallery.

The French version will follow as soon as it is available. Thanks and God Bless to all those who helped us along the way.


Africa Great Lakes Region and Cameroon, 2008

We are back after nearly 3 months in the Great Lakes Region and Cameroon.

Hard to describe our incredible adventures. Check out the 2008 report for details.

A Word for Pakistan - Rev. Dr. Pierre Allard