By Steven Norris

     “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart…down in my heart to stay.” The experiences of the past few weeks have forever changed my understanding of this beloved children’s song.

     I recently returned from spending more than two weeks with a mission team in both Rwanda and Uganda. While there, we met Gilbert Kubwimana, a Rwandan businessman and entrepreneur. His calling to ministry came as he was watching the evening news with his wife. A story flashed across the screen of a mother with two children that each had significant special needs. They were living under a mango tree because the father had abandoned them, the mother had no way to support her children, and there were no social safety nets to assist them.

     Gilbert couldn’t believe that this was actually taking place, so he contacted the news station and tracked down the mother. He helped her find suitable housing and started asking a number of questions: How many other families in the capital city of Kigali were in similar situations? How many families had been abandoned by fathers who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) stand by them in such difficult circumstances? How many children were being hidden away because parents were ashamed of their disabilities?

    Equipped with his MBA, a compassionate heart, and a deep Christian faith that insists on the inherent value of each individual life created in God’s image, Gilbert launched an organization known as “Love With Actions.” Its mandate is drawn from a passage in scripture that reads, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

     Love With Actions now has two campuses — one that provides free physical therapy and occupational therapy to students and teaches the families how to do therapy at home and another that includes a school where students can come to receive further education. The organization has hired parents of these students to restore the dignity of gainful employment. They have provided health insurance for many who previously had none.

     Not only did we get to visit these campuses, but we had the privilege of visiting the homes of some students. Joy is a nine-year-old little girl who was born with cerebral palsy. Her parents have no transportation, so they carry her about 3 kilometers to the center for therapy. Love With Actions is currently working on getting her a wheelchair to make the transportation easier.

     As we entered the house, Joy’s mat was laid out on the dirt floor. Though she wasn’t able to communicate verbally, her radiant smile filled the room. I couldn’t help myself, moving directly to her and taking a seat on the mat next to her. She reached out and held my arm, looked me straight in the eye, and let out a squeal. Stroking her hair, I told her how beautiful she was and that she was created by God with a purpose. In that moment, God spoke: “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

     “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, down in my heart…down in my heart to stay.”