… From the Nations and to the Nations…

Some final reflections from my time in Burundi

Up country 

It was a real privilege to go up to Evariste’s village, to visit families, and to see the visible difference the milk cows make to people’s lives and the fields around them – I was powerfully struck with how God can take one man with a vision and faith in God, and bring about genuine change and transformation to an entire area.

It was also wonderful to watch Evariste seizing the opportunity to preach at a ‘funeral’ event.

My understanding is that this would be a very unusual thing to be allowed to do, but it was clear to us that it was based on the fact the he has such a good reputation in the area, and that he had clearly ‘earned the right’ to speak.

Having spoken on Jesus words “I am the resurrection and the life” and the hope that there is when we put our trust in Jesus Christ, many of the 40+ people put their hands up for salvation and prayed a prayer of repentance.  But this was not the end….

The widowed husband of the deceased came forward, bent right over with a bad back. He announced that some weeks before he had met some ‘born again Christians’ and he had been told by them that Christians would come back and pray for his back. He said ‘you have come today, you will pray for me and I will be healed!’ No pressure!

As we laid hands on him there was such a surge of faith! His back and spine literally began to move and he stood upright and began to dance about, shouting ‘Hallelujah! Hallelujah!’

I was strongly reminded of the times when Jesus said to a number of people, ‘Go in peace, your faith has healed you.’

Learning moments

More than once I was asked to speak to some ‘leaders’. I have to say, it was quite a challenge in a very rural African setting about as far from my ‘normal’ home setting as I could be! I think I was hitting the target although it’s not always easy to tell. In the end there is no substitute for time and integration in the culture…

During my time ‘up country’ two things struck me. One that there is a huge Catholic influence in this nation and it infects their thinking in many ways. Two, that the world view, (the lens or window through which they look at the world) certainly in the mountains is a very literalistic one, and so the questions are very specific about literal day to day life in the Bible and Jesus life. ‘Where did he sleep?’ ‘Where did he get his clothes from?’ and so on.

On Sunday morning I was also asked to speak in the little mud and wood church building on the hill. Again, getting the communication right in that sort of very rural setting is always a challenge – when we called for people to respond for prayer at the end, virtually the whole church came forward and then they all bowed on their faces at our feet! That (having very quickly got them all to stand up) was very definitely a teaching moment!!

Oh and I also met a very tall man!