Herve is our e3 partners "man on the ground" in Burundi. Due to security concerns, the North American team that was scheduled to arrive in Burundi in August for a church-planting campaign pulled out about a week before departure. In spite of this and because of the preparations already made in-country for this campaign, it was decided that the Burundi pastors committee would continue with the work as scheduled. They mobilized teams of nationals to partner in the work with them. The following summary from Herve is a testimony to God's sovereignty and grace. God's work was accomplished. Lives were changed for eternity. Churches were planted and strengthened. God was glorified.
E3 Partner’s Ministry August 2009 Mwaro Campaign has just been successfully completed. We experienced much opposition from the onset. The team of missionaries that was planning to come did not, due to security concerns. This was regrettable, but by the grace of God we were able to complete the campaign with Local ministers. As a dear friend once told me “there is no safer place than where God wants you to be.” I can understand why the enemy would not want the Mwaro campaign to be conducted, though. The Province of Mwaro and its capital in particular have long been known to be the Hub of witchcraft and satanic practices. One particular practice known as “kubandwa” involves calling the spirit of ancestors and giving praise to one called “Kiranga” supposedly the direct representative of God. It’s a modern day cult to baal where offerings and sacrifices of animals are made to a local divinity. Many people are bound by this cult and so maintained in ignorance and poverty.We arrived in Mwaro on Wednesday the 19th of August and set up the teams according to the different churches. We had originally planned to work with 6 churches but at the last minute one church was unable to fulfil their engagement. So we worked with 5 churches. Two churches were strengthened and three new churches established. We regularly encountered obstacles, but none that our Lord could not give us wisdom to overcome. For instance when we arrived in Mwaro we were advised that the Gas Station had no Gas so we had to have it sent from Bujumbura by bus. Eventually the gas station received gas and we were able to get our refills from Mwaro.
It was a real blessing as every morning the whole team gathered to worship and praise God before setting off for evangelism and meeting every evening to give thanksgiving and praise to God for His faithfulness during the day. God was gracious to us to make it so that the advisor to the Governor was a personal friend to one of our Ministers, Pastor Avite who happens to be on the committee, so we had no problem with authorisation to complete the campaign.
Each day brought its load of praise reports, like one of our Ministers as he was evangelising met two young boys who were distraught, and so he took time to listen to them, and he found out that they were on their way to visit their father who’d been locked up in the local jail falsely accused of having stolen a goat. So he prayed with them and they received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and so he asked them, do you believe that Jesus can set your dad free from jail? To which they eagerly answered yes. So our minister walked with them to the Local jail and spoke to the Local authorities, and they told him that the man’s case had not yet been heard. But since the Local Superintendent thought that the case was shaky and that the evidence against the man did not hold, he released him there on the spot. And so the young boys were reunited with their father, they praised God and thanked him and decided to follow Jesus.
When we arrived in Mwaro, there really was a gloomy feel about the area, like an oppressive cloud hovering over the town, but as the days went by the atmosphere cleared and we could feel a gentle breeze of peace breathing upon the town.
It so happens that this is the area where we’re from on my dad’s side so I was blessed to see two uncles and an aunt confess Christ right before me, and I witnessed to another Uncle who is a staunch catholic and although he did not pray the prayer of confession, because I think he felt a bit awkward, as I found him at the bar of the Hotel where we were staying having a beer, he nevertheless promised he would come to my church in Bujumbura since he also lives there . I will make sure to hold him to his promise.
The pinnacle of our week of evangelism though was on Monday. We had all agreed when we arrived in Mwaro that we would fast on this day and head to a brook called “Gasumo”. This is the centre of witchcraft in Mwaro the Mecca of sorcery in Burundi. This place is reportedly where all witches, sorcerers and enchanters come to get their power and pay homage to the object of their worship. This for lack of better definition is the very altar of baal, the devil’s lair. We arrived there after a trek through a wood. Seemingly this appeared to be a beautiful place, a brook with flowing water and lush vegetation, but immediately upon arriving we were all overtaken by feelings of nausea, and a powerful spirit of oppression came upon us.
We all immediately started rebuking and calling on the name of the Lord. We arrived there at about 9 am and we stayed there worshiping, praising God and listening to the word of God until about 4 pm. Not too long after we arrived the oppression left. There were about 30 people altogether and we had a wonderful time, an incredible feeling of peace pervaded in the whole area.
When we arrived on site we found food that had been carefully laid out in sacrifice to the divinities. There was one particular set out that was described to us as a lay out to call for the death of someone. Of course we tore it apart and prayed that whoever that had been set up for, would be saved and live long.
The week of evangelism was very successful, resulting in 3,240 presentations of the Gospel and 1,456 people confessing Christ as their personal Saviour and 213 follow ups. There was 3 new churches established and 2 Churches strengthened.
May the name of our Lord be praised now and forevermore.