Burundi is beautiful, mysterious, virtually unknown to most of the world, and has a heart-breaking history of civil war similar to its neighboring country of Rwanda. Burundi is listed among the 25 most corrupt countries in the world. Only 1 in 2 children attend school. According to a scientific study done among 178 countries, Burundians have the lowest life satisfaction in the world. Articles I've read in The Economist among other periodicals generally have a bleak forecast for Burundi's present and future. And, it's true. Burundi, just like every other nation in the world, has no hope apart from God.
We have seen a glimmer of that hope in many areas we have visited in the past 4 years in Burundi. We have seen that hope in the pastors of rural churches who are working tirelessly, most of the time without pay, under-resourced, under-trained, yet fervently reaching out to people in villages who are desperate for faith in something other than themselves, traditions, and empty religion. These pastors and church leaders have a spark, a fire that won't be extinguished by abject poverty, poor health care, lack of food, or civil war. In fact, this hope seems intensified because of not inspite of the odds that appear to be stacked against them.
I am always inspired by this hope that they have within them. This is a supernatural hope. It makes no earthly sense. The world disregards them. They are hungry. They are thirsty. They are perpetually exhausted. But this hope burns brightly in spite of their circumstances.
When we arrive in Burundi and are welcomed by these people, we are immediately humbled by the hope in their handshake, their hug, their expectant conversation, and we soon realize that our all-American hope is so easily misplaced. We trust in our stuff. We hope in our good fortune or a stroke of luck. We rely on our intelligence, talents, connections. We "pray" for a chance favor from the world.
In Burundi, our hope is redirected, not gently but rather violently and out of necessity back to our Living Hope. Burundi requires us to utterly depend on God, keeping our eyes on Him, keeping our hearts enslaved to His, keeping our purposes totally aligned with His.
We pray that many more will experience the blessing of hope with us in Burundi.