Nearly 20,000 people gathered to join American Pastor Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame to launch the first national "40 Days of Purpose" campaign in Rwanda Sunday.
Attendees came from every province in African nation to greet the bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life and initiate the national campaign at Amohoro (translated "Peace") Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda's capital.
"This week we are launching a biblical way of living in Rwanda; we call it, 'The Purpose Driven Life,'" Warren said to the thousands gathered under the hot African sun, according to his media team.
"What matters in life is your relationship to God and His purpose for you," he said.
This week's trip marks the tenth visit by Warren to Rwanda, the first east African nation to implement the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Sunday's event also celebrated the three years since the P.E.A.C.E. Plan was initiated in Rwanda and included a graduation ceremony for the first class of 200 Rwandan pastors who completed a three-year Purpose Driven and P.E.A.C.E. training program.
"I want to say to Rick and Kay Warren that they could not find a better place than Rwanda for the Purpose Driven campaign, for good and bad reasons," President Kagame said. "The bad reasons are related to our history – in our past we have lived a life without purpose. The good reasons are related to our future – that we have a chance with the Purpose Driven Life."
Kagame praised the P.E.A.C.E. plan for combining the resources and strength from three sectors of society – public, private and faith. He spoke of how Saddleback Church's Western Rwanda HIV/AIDS Healthcare Initiative Project is changing healthcare management and distribution by using churches as clinics.
"This model can be replicated in other parts of our country. More importantly, more Rwandans of faith need to adopt this mindset."
The P.E.A.C.E plan is a global effort to mobilize 1 billion Christians to combat the five biggest problems in the world – spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, and illiteracy and lack of education.
The acronym stands for promote reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.
"We didn't choose Rwanda, they invited us. Our goal is not to change Rwanda, but to serve this country," Warren told reporters. "The P.E.A.C.E. Plan is built on the biblical foundation that faith without works is dead, and we overcome evil with good."
Other events Warren attended in Rwanda included a prayer breakfast with local business and government leaders and a White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative Conference (WHOFBCI) on Public-Private Partnerships and Economic Development.
During the prayer breakfast, the California megachurch pastor discussed the four building blocks needed for successful relationships – unselfishness, humility, love and forgiveness.
"No nation is stronger than its families – to build a strong church, community or nation, you need strong families," he said.
The forgiveness component was especially emphasized to the leaders, whose country is still recovering from the 1994 genocide that killed as many as 1 million Rwandans.
The Warrens will visit Nairobi after spending nine days in Rwanda.