This week we held the first of our 2-day LDC’s (Leadership Development Conference). These always precede our church-planting expeditions. 2 of our expeditions will be Burundi-national-led. The final expedition will be led by our North American team. We drove to Bubanza Province which is a about a 40-minute, white-knuckle drive away from Bujumbura. We last worked in Bubanza in August, 2008. Seems like a million years ago. So much has changed in Burundi since then. In 2008, Burundi was just barely in the process of ending the civil war that destroyed so many lives and much of the country. Bubanza was the province most impacted by the war. They were literally cut-off from Bujumbura and the rest of the country from 1993 until 2005. In 2008, so much of the military camps still lined the road to Bubanza. Lots of vacant land lined the road since 1000’s of coffee trees were cut down in an effort to eliminate places where the rebels could hide. Many people were driven from their homes by the military, by the rebels, by the conditions of the war. Bubanza is a beautiful place and it is slowly being re-built with help from many organizations, among them the Chinese government. When we last visited there, we met with Governor, a devout Catholic man who welcomed us to evangelize the area. He said that his people were suffering much from the war. They needed so much help. NGO’s were not allowed to enter the area until the war had been officially ended for 6 months. Meanwhile, people were starving, in need of medical assistance, desperate for help, while NGO’s were just waiting for the all-clear so they could proceed with relief efforts. Though the people are still desperately poor, thankfully, it appears that there has been much progress.
The pastors we met with were passionate about preaching the Gospel and excited about planting churches where there are none. Five local denominations were represented: New Vision; New Life; Cepebu, Vivante, and Rocher. After 2 days of teaching, fellowship and training on sharing the Gospel using the Evangecube, these leaders are more than ready to answer the great commission to “Go!” We will begin a national-led, church planting expedition next week. It takes a lot of faith and perseverance to plant a church in Burundi. Every obstacle you can think of is usually right in front of them, beginning with zero funding available. But God’s plan is perfect. His ways are perfect. We have seen His faithfulness over and over again as He provides generously and in unexpected ways. May there be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Bubanza. May the fiery arrows of the devil be extinguished before they are even thrown. May the power of the darkness tremble at the overwhelming, unstoppable force that is the Church, united to “Go” all for the Glory of God!