Burundi in 2009
National elections are close at
hand in Burundi. It is a time of tension but one that is shared
with every nation facing an election - particularly in Africa,
but also in Europe. Jesus calls us, his people, to be salt and
light and evidently so when the pulse quickens at a time of
national choice. We honour the powers that be. Romans 13:1-7. By
our presence, we underline the need for integrity and that God
is the silent observer to what is going on. We don't have to
make a noise! We do have to pray!
We were heartened by our stay in
Burundi this year. It is true that not a lot seems to have
improved in public utilities. The water supply is almost
non-existent - except for the springs in the valleys -
electricity is erratic where it is connected to the main grid
and the medical situation is dire. There are now 300 national
doctors of whom 90 are women. Few of them are prepared to work
up country to help the rural population. Just to see a doctor
costs money and then the prescribed medicines have to be bought.
We cannot blame young Burundians of promise who have qualified
and see a door open to the better life - but God cares for the
poor. Will he call some of the gifted people to serve
sacrificially in remote parts?
The church holds its head up,
preaches the Gospel and sees many people called by God and
coming for prayer. There are numerous churches. Apart from the
Catholic majority, there are 130 different Protestant groups!
Many have a doubtful pedigree and rivalry rears its head, but
there is a fair consensus on the need for personal repentance
and a turning to Jesus Christ. Islam presents a challenge and,
because of its money, it can be tempting to the poor, deprived
of medical attention and education.
But where there are poor, there
are pluses. It is easy to talk about the Lord in Burundi.
Christian testimony is welcomed at all levels. Once convicted,
Burundians are natural evangelists. The need is for Christians
with teaching gifts able to move believers on to a more mature
Women have a key role in the
church. The Mothers' Union is flourishing and gives identity to
many whose home life is marked by drudgery.
Children form a large part of the
population although the size of families is decreasing a little
and there are many child headed households due to AIDS, malaria
and the civil war. We need imaginative teachers who can reach
children at their own level and help them to find Jesus.
The church in Burundi has a lot
to teach us, but we too have something to give them. Are young
Brits willing to go and help with their acquired skills? Medics,
clergy, teachers, car mechanics, water engineers, tree surgeons,
agriculturalists, we can tell you more and hope to inspire you!
Burundi is a beautiful small African nation with people who have
a gift for friendship and time for each person. Do you hear a
call to share their life and culture and add your contribution
to what God is doing there?