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I’ve Been Impacted Here

Written by Steve Abney

The ALARM General Conference for pastors from rural Bujumbura Province has come to a close, and I have been impacted in several ways.

First, how many lives can be impacted by investing in unlikely leaders! Bishop Deo shared his story as a lost teenage orphan, determined to get revenge for the murder of his father and uncles. As he plotted to kill the children of the man responsible, a pastor (or a man who later became a pastor) decided to invest time with him and tell him of Jesus Christ and His love for him. The man told him that God wants to redeem him and his life.

Over months of returning to visit Deo in the refugee camp again and again, Deo became convinced that this man actually cared for him – so Deo became interested in his God. Over time Deo gave his life to Jesus, repented of his plan for revenge, and reconciled with the man who was responsible for his father’s death. Since that time, Deo has literally changed the country of Burundi through his teaching years at Hope University, then running ALARM Burundi for nearly a decade, training thousands of people on servant leadership, forgiveness, etc. After that, Deo was elected as Bishop of the Free Methodist Church in Burundi and elsewhere, where he disciples 600 pastors and 1200 lay leaders.

That pastor’s simple act of faithfulness – taking an interest in a young angry man – has impacted thousands and thousands of lives. That story encourages me to invest in people, because you never know the downstream impact.

Another thing that impacted me is seeing what makes for effective discipleship. After observing what has worked in my own life (thanks to Kyle Thompson) and what has been effective for the pastors at the conference, I am convinced that modeling faithful action is the most effective way to disciple people. We’ve been given instruction from God’s word on many topics, but when we support the instruction with specific examples of how we’ve executed on that instruction in our own lives, it’s like the scales fall off people’s eyes. Having an example to follow helps give vision for how to be faithful (1 Cor 11:1). This encourages me to 1) be faithful so that I have examples to share, and 2) share the examples.

Finally, our Watermark team has really loved each other exceptionally. The encouragement, support, praying, and selflessness have been something to marvel at (John 13:34-35). Our relationships will forever be changed for the better.

We look forward to returning to our loved ones soon as we start the trip back. Please pray for safe travel.

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