In January and February I spent three weeks in Rwanda and Burundi, mostly in Burundi. I inadvertently neglected to update this blog, so here is my report on that trip now (BTW, I am leaving for Kenya at the end of this week):
did round 3 of expository preaching in Kigali, Rwanda with 14 students.
Actually, it was round 3 for some, but about half of the students were
new, so it was round 1 for them. It demonstrated the importance of doing
this more than once. One round 3 student said, "Now it is all clear."
We focused on two passages: Ezek 36:22-32
and John 7:37-39. The preaching and critiques are always a highlight.
We divided into two groups for the preaching: I took one and Theophile
Rugubira took the other. All of the preachers in my group were new, so
many of them fell back into the old ways much of the time, but the
critiques were helpful. Fortunately, we had sufficient time for me to
preach one of the passages, so they were able to see exactly what I was
advocating. That proved illuminating. Also, the students themselves
expressed the desire to get together every two months or so for
preaching and critiques on their own, in their own primary language.
That will facilitate learning and understanding, since in most cases
English is their third language.
I took the 6 1/2 hour bus ride to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi,
located at the top of Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in Africa. Here
it is Florida-like: mid-80s and lots of semi-tropical vegetation. At the
African leaders strategic planning summit in Kigali last November, I
had talked about the importance of setting up indigenous
committees/structures in each of the East African countries, for
accountability and continuity purposes. The Burundians have done that.
Frederic Harerimana is the chairman, along with Francois Sebagabo, Venat
Bagabo, Nestor Bukuru, and Bonaventure Haringazi. We want to do things
We will be doing three 1 Timothy conferences and
one TOT, all in suburbs of Bujumbura. We have just finished the first
conference, with about 20 participants. It went very well. Frederic did
translating for me and taught three of the units. Venat and Nestor also
taught. The bishop of Eglise Emmanueliste du Reveil Church hosted. He is
an enthusiastic proponent of what we teach (he has been a participant
in the past) and gave a testimony concerning the impact that the
teachings have had on him and his people. I also preached in his church
A Tragic Loss
About a week ago the central market in Bujumbura was burned to the
ground. It appears to have been a well-planned arson. It has not yet
been announced who is responsible. This is a terrible tragedy,
especially for such a small country as Burundi. I was informed that the
central market was home to countless small businesses, did the
equivalent of about $5 million in business each day, and that about 5000
people worked there. Everybody and everything was totally wiped out.
There were also a few deaths. In addition to the great personal losses,
this will have significant economic repercussions throughout the country
and for the country' s economy. Please pray for the people and peace of Burundi.
Kanyosha and GatumbaWe
did two 1 Timothy conferences in the Bujumbura suburbs of Kanyosha and
Gatumba, before about 47 participants. Venant Bagabo, Nestor Bukuru,
Frederic Harerimana, and Francois Sebagabo taught along with me.
Developing good African teachers is particularly important in a country
like Burundi where very few people speak English (the national language
is Kirundi). The conferences went well. At the conclusion of the
Kanyosha conference one of the pastors, Samuel, told us how my
discussion of the so-called "prosperity gospel" in connection with 1
Timothy 6 had spoken very directly to him. He had been told by a
teacher" some years ago that if he continued to preach and teach the
gospel as he was doing, he would never be able to live in a big house in
an affluent neighborhood of Bujumbura. I am happy to say--and he is
happy to say--that he has remained faithful to the real gospel of Jesus
Christ and now sees from the exposition of the Scripture why that is so
TOT in Bujumbura
a TOT on 1 Timothy for 15 participants at Francois' church in
Bujumbura. Since 1 Timothy is written primarily to leaders, its impact
on individual church leaders is always front-and-center at the pastors
conferences. However, at this TOT, our discussions brought home to me,
in a way I had not appreciated before, how the entire book is
challenging the churches in order to get the leaders to ask themselves and reevaluate how they "do church" and
why they do things the way they do. Specifically, what does the "church
a family" (1 Tim 3:15; 5:1-2) and "church as pillar and support of the
truth" (1 Tim 3:15) imply for how we do church, our priorities, and what
we focus on?
We talked about many issues along these lines.
Sometimes the discussions became quite animated, and at times they spent
some time debating in Kirundi rather than English. All this is good,
and I hope that some of the pastors saw a little bit about how bound
many of us are to our own traditions, and also saw the great potential
the churches have for making a real difference in their people's lives
and in society if changes are made. This is particularly important given
the burning of the central market and the financial devastation that
resulted to many people. The churches, despite their own relative
poverty, should play a prime role in restoration.
has still been no announcement concerning who is responsible for the
fire. Please pray for Burundi and for
the revival and re-prioritizing of the churches. I preached at Nestor
Bukuru's church (the walls of which are made of papyrus reeds). My
Burundi leaders will be developing a strategic plan for our work in that
country. I probably will return to Burundi in the late summer. It
appears that we will have the opportunity to do five days with all of
the pastors of a particular denomination at that time. So, there is
potential that we can make a significant difference in this beautiful
and challenging land.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support. I will keep you advised of developments. God bless you, Jonathan