Gary and Barb Bennett in Kigali Rwanda
How does a single missionary in Japan meet a single widower missionary in Rwanda? The simple and short answer is “The Internet.” Gary Bennett met his wife, Barb, through eHarmony.com, an Internet dating service. They did most of their dating online using a Web cam. On March 29, 2006, Barb completed her teaching assignment in Japan. She and Gary were married on April 29.
Rwanda has been Gary’s home for the last 30 years. He met his first wife in Rwanda, where she was teaching missionary children. She died in 2001 of breast cancer, leaving behind Gary and their two daughters, Melissa and Megan.
Barb grew up in Spokane, Washington, with two older brothers and a twin sister. At the age of 14, Barb accepted Christ as her personal Savior and felt a call to go to Africa as a missionary. After attending college, she started grad school with the intent of becoming an opera singer. Even though she was very successful in her endeavors, she felt convicted to use her talents for God’s kingdom. After attending Bible school, Barb accepted an invitation to teach English alongside her Korean brothers and sisters at Hansarang (one love) mission. She returned to the States for one year and then went to Japan where she spent five-and-a-half years teaching English and music through Japan Mission in Ikoma.
Gary is passionate about helping the Rwandese church grow and be strengthened. He accomplishes this in three ways. One way is through New Creation Ministries (NCM). He is a support person for the school and oversees the construction of new facilities. NCM equips pastors who come to the center four times a year for a three-week concentrated training session. He also has an agricultural demonstration area on campus to expose the pastors and students to new and better ways of animal husbandry and gardening practices.
The second way Gary seeks to help the Rwandese church be strengthened and grow is by working directly with churches. He visits existing churches and encourages the starting of new churches. One aspect of this work is to help new churches acquire and install the iron roofing sheets needed for their new buildings. A third way is through mission administration. He serves as the field treasurer and takes care of much of the government red tape.
Barbara’s passion is to help people discover their God-given creativity. Music is not commonly a part of the general educational practices in Rwandan schools. Currently, Barb is teaching music to children from 4th grade through High School at a local international school. She also teaches music to over 100 Rwandan children from more than seven Kigali schools at our church on Thursday evenings. She and her team of helpers see this as an opportunity for discipleship and evangelism as many of the families these children come from do not attend church.