Chesterton Tribune



Prayer Breakfast speaker Henriette Ngenga warns against allowing division to grow

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The 19th Annual Duneland Community Prayer Breakfast was met by beautiful weather and a capacity crowd at Trinity hall banquet center at St. Patrick’s Church, in Chesterton. Community and business leaders, elected officials and students filled the room and were welcomed by master of ceremonies Mike Harris. The Chesterton Police Department Honor Guard under the direction of Police Chief Dave Cinkoski presented the United States flag and Chesterton Town manager Bernard Doyle lead all in the pledge of allegiance. Music was provided by Liberty Bible under the direction of Carol Hazen and Father Jon Plavcan, of St. Patrick’s, provided a welcoming invocation.

A nice breakfast was served and conversation reverberated through the room. Harris introduced the elected officials and community leaders present. Julie Paulson of the Chamber of Commerce welcomed all in attendance and recalled that great communities are built on and around faith. Newly appointed Duneland Schools Superintendent Chip Petit provided a scripture reading and Toni Biancardi of Burns Harbor lead all in a prayer for our state and nation.

This year’s speaker, Henriette Ngenga, author of “Carrying Divine: My Rwandan Genocide Survivor Story”, was introduced by Harris. Ngenga recounted many of the themes from her book, telling stories of faith and survival during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Years of cultural separation lead to targeted hate between two groups that subsequently lead to a four month genocide resulting in over one million deaths. Ngenga spoke of her experience as a young Tutsi mother of four, with one on the way, facing a targeted genocide, and how her faith guided her through. She closed with a message on how such a division can divide a country. Yet a great nation filled with prayer and compassion for one another can someday overcome preconceived cultural separation. Separation can divide. Arguments can divide. Geography can divide. Prayer can unite, she told those gathered.

The Liberty singers led the song God Bless America and Chesterton Fire Department Chaplain Lowell Black closed the program with prayer and all in attendance were on their way to try to make the world a better place, one prayer at a time.

“How blessed I feel to live in a community that makes this event a priority, said attendee Amy Carney Redman. “It was wonderful to see people reach across political differences to enjoy a time of fellowship and prayer.”

“I found Henriette’s testimony to be heart wrenching and moving but even more, inspiring,” said Susan Searight.

“I could have listened to her stories all day. The Duneland Community Prayer Breakfast committee continues to bring amazing speakers to this outstanding annual event,” said Scott Mundell, of the Chesterton Chamber of Commerce and the Franciscan Alliance.

First time attendee LeeAnn Ashby added, “I was struck by how many within the community were in attendance. During a time when issues are so divisive within our country it was inspiring to hear a message encouraging us to focus on what we have in common and how we can help one another rather than focusing on opinions that divide us."

Ngenga and her daughter Brunelle Rungenga were escorted to the Chesterton Middle School where her 20 year-old daughter shared her message about the issues and consequences of bullying with the entire 8th grade student body. She urged them to keep in mind ‘GET’. “GIVE all one can of one’s self so that one knows they have tried their best. EXPECT more from and believe in one’s self and good things will happen. TOGETHER we can understand one another’s perspective,” she told them. Rungenga closed by asking students to be understanding of the bully as well. “A community of understanding can lift up both the bully and the victim.”



Posted 10/11/2019




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