written by Drew Zeiler
Our trip to Burundi Africa has been a memorable one to say the least. And it’s only just begun. We have met very humble people who live with very little, yet are full of joy. We have heard crazy stories of persecution – everything from the theft of family animals to assassination attempts for trying to make disciples. But for this blog post, I would like to highlight a few miscellaneous things our team has learned while being here. Some of these I will elaborate on; others will stand for themselves.
- Central Africa has beautiful weather. A common question asked of us is, “How do you feel to be in Africa?” At first it was a confusing question. We were not quite sure what they were asking us initially, but after thinking about it, they’re asking us what do we think about Africa’s weather? A common perception is Africa has miserable weather. The truth is Burundi is beautiful and the weather has been almost California-like.
- Like America, Satan has launched an all-out assault on the family.
- To overcome denominational differences in Burundi, people focus and what they have in common. Jesus is God. Jesus is the source of life. We should make disciples of Jesus Christ. I sat in a circle today will three Catholic priests and many other denominations confessing unforgiveness in their heart. This was a new experience for me.
- One of the biggest differences between Americans and people in Burundi is education. Education is a total game-changer. A large number of Christians want a Bible but can’t afford one. I asked a man, “So if someone from your congregation wants to read the Bible, what do they do? He said, “They come over to my house, and we read it together.” I think if that was me, I would change the saying we have at Watermark from “devote daily” to “devote monthly.” We have all grown in our appreciation of the availability of God’s word in America.
- Our interpreters have incredible stamina. They are incredibly faithful servants of Christ. Our interpreter Jarrod never complains, and he doesn’t even seem to be tired. He translated for close to 6 or 7 hours one day; I spoke for 1.5 hours and am very tired. When I asked him how he got into interpreting, he very sincerely said that when he was younger he gave ALL of his life to God. That includes his talents and even his weaknesses. And he asked God to use him for His glory. God is using him in incredible ways. Watching his faithfulness and his work ethic has impacted all of us.
- 55% of pastors in Burundi beat their wives and think they are not doing anything wrong. A man today in our confession time, after our sessions on seeking forgiveness, confessed that at times his wife is hard on his children, so he beats her. Because of the trainings today, he said, “I will seek forgiveness from my wife and will no longer hit her.”
- The truth of God’s word is powerful. We have all witnessed its raw power. Because of translation and lack of resources, our trainings are not flashy at all. In fact, they are down right awkward at times. However, these Christians are so hungry for God’s word that it has incredible power. Someone on our team said it well when they encouraged us to rely on the truth of God’s word and not our strengths. “The truth of God’s word is like a raging bull – all we have to do is let it loose, and it will make its impact.”
- Two major issues plague the churches in Burundi. 1) Pastors and church leaders will take Scripture out of context for selfish gain and without fear of being challenged, due to lack of education. 2) Many people in the church here use deception and underhanded methods. We heard story after story of people trying to turn others against each other by spreading lies. I guess that isn’t just an American middle school problem after all.
- Lastly, unresolved conflict is an epidemic here. AIDS has killed many. Many have died from Malaria, diarrhea, or hunger. But it seems all of them are spiritually rotting internally from unforgivness and unresolved conflicts. I hope to post soon about some of the craziest stories I have ever heard about men hoping to pursue reconciliation from the hurts of others.
We can already see God is working truly beyond our understanding and expectations. Please continue to Pray for us.
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