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Archive for the 'Burundi-WCCFW-2017' Category

Free Indeed

written by Becky Lyus

Today was one of the most emotional joyful days I have ever experienced. I still cannot grasp how God deems us worthy to be with these beautiful, surrendered, hurt, yet fiercely in love with Jesus women.

Our days have started with exchanging smiles, hugs, and handshakes – and many laughs with the women. It’s crazy that our only communication with these women is nonverbal, or through interpreters when we teach, or holding their precious babies. Following our sessions, the women break out in song and dance with JOY and honest praise towards our Savior for all He has done, and for His faithfulness.

Britt led the day by sharing her experience with grief and trauma and how she found healing in Christ. She encouraged the women to write about a suffering they have experienced – one they now see how the Lord has redeemed. Julie followed with a powerful talk on forgiveness, which Betsy followed with amazing personal testimony about conflict resolution and forgiveness.

In the afternoon, we led an exercise to “take it to the cross.” In short, we urged the women to write one of their deepest pains/hurts, done to them or by them, and someone they needed to forgive or seek forgiveness from. They broke out in smalls groups and shared if they felt led to. We then gathered in a large circle around a fire pit in the room. We all prayed over our specific paper – that we would leave this pain at the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to heal our wounds and recognize He bore the pain and hurt we experienced. We were asked to repent before we went to the fire.

The women were singing through their tears in pain, kneeling before the Father, calling out to Abba Father to heal and forgive. The Spirit of the Lord was overwhelmingly present in the room. I was overwhelmed by the Lord’s grace and forgiveness towards me, and overwhelmed that he would allow me to be a part of these women experiencing chains breaking and freedom from bondage. I too found healing in an area of my life I held tightly to.

God is alive and is in the business of healing, and boy did he move mountains today. We closed in worship, praising God. Women then shared some of their deepest hurts, and it was overwhelming to hear such hurt but also see their hope and trust in Jesus. I wish I could share more but we will just have to save the rest for in-person!

I am eternally grateful for the honor and privilege to come to Burundi. My word for the trip is “free.” May we all live as free in Christ as these women do. Amen.

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9 Surprising Things We’ve Learned about Burundi (So Far!)

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.

  1. 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. bur17-IMG_0287
  2. Like America, Satan has launched an all-out assault on the family.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.”bur17-IMG_0285
  8. 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.
  9. 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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Burundi conference is in full swing…..by Betsy

Amahora! Hello from Burundi!!  I sit here before this computer speechless because there is just too much that I want to be able to tell each of you reading this! What an incredible privilege and honor it is to be here as a minister of the gospel of Christ.  Thank you so much to everyone who has made this possible and to everyone who has been praying for us!

We have had an incredible day 2 of the conference.  The men taught on why God allows evil and suffering in the world, healing from grief and trauma and forgiveness. The women taught on servant leadership and marriage.  We have seen the men and women at the conference open up already about the struggles in the their lives and it is so encouraging to see their faithfulness in suffering.  And the way that they are wanting to honor the Lord with how they respond to the people in their lives who have caused them pain.

The men broke into smaller groups where the pastors shared trauma that they had not yet healed from, offenses which they have committed against others and need to seek forgiveness and reconciliation for, and offenses that were committed against them and their families which they felt moved to forgive.

Romans 1:11-12 says that “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong–that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”  And I can’t express to you how true these verses are proving to be true here in Burundi.  We have been teaching them numerous topics from parenting to leadership to forgiveness and in turn we have learned so much from them in just 2 days time.  I have learned from the women that….

….. possessing God’s written Word is an absolute treasure that I should never take for granted.

…..possessions and nice things do not lead to joy.  I know this because the joy that is present when they break out in song is one of the most beautiful and contagious gifts I have ever been given.

…that faithfulness to the Lord is possible even in the midst of impossible situations

….that through Jesus, our greatest suffering can be turned into growth and joy

…..that God’s love and goodness is the greatest power that men and women will ever be able to experience

….that God is continually working miracles in the lives of men and women all over the globe who love and trust in Him alone.

There is so much more that we can’t wait to tell you about when we get home! But for now, just remember that God is SO good!!  I hope and pray that each of you reading this will know and understand God’s great love for you today.  We love and miss you all!

Betsy

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In Burundi All is well….wcc international ef team

The Watermark Fort Worth team arrived safely at their final location in Karusi, Burundi along with the staff of our African partner organization ALARM (http://alarm-inc.org/). Everyone is doing well and settled in for the week of teaching.  They are completing day 2 of the conference today and look forward to the next 2 days of teaching pastors and women leaders in that province biblical truths of leadership, conflict resolution, and trauma healing among other topics.  They also discovered the internet is not working very well in Central Burundi. Please stay tuned for stories from the team as soon as they have better access or updates from the Watermark team in Dallas in the interim.  2 Timothy 3:16-17.

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