I’ve spent my last two days in Burundi personally visiting Heaven’s Family beneficiaries, which include widows, former drug addicts, handicapped Christians and Christian leaders. It has been two days of joy for me. I’ve traveled to two fairly-far away provinces, Rugumbo and Kayanza. The former is generally flat and the latter is mountainous. In both places I visited agricultural projects where some very effective evangelists and indigenous church-planting servants have rented or purchased land via group loans from our Micro-Loan Fund. They are profiting with every harvest of potatoes, tomatoes and corn, enabling them to not only repay their loans, but meet their daily needs and support their ministries. Still, they are very poor. They live in mud-brick houses with dirt floors and without electricity or running water. Many walk miles every day or so to get drinkable water. They live in what is by some measurements, one of the world’s poorest countries.
To reach the folks in the photo above, we journeyed deep into Kayanza Province and parked alongside the road. Then I had to hike straight down (perhaps a slight exaggeration) on a slippery path for about a mile, giving me just a slight glimpse of what life is like for our indigenous church-planting missionaries.
You would never know it by looking at them, but all those in the photo not only lead a house church which they personally started, but each also is responsible for at least 10 other house church leaders—leaders whom they have won to the Lord and are still discipling. They are preaching the gospel in remote villages where no one has ever preached the gospel. Their steadfast, indigenous church-planting efforts are yielding an abundance of fruit. The older lady on the left for example, Monique Cishahayo, is a widow who often gets up before dawn to walk for miles to preach all day in far away villages that are only reachable by footpath.
Monique and a few others accompanied me as I hiked out of their valley, and I had to stop at least 4 times to catch my breath and let my heart stop racing. She and the others, not even sweating, politely waited for me to recover before continuing our upward trek to where we parked our vehicle (I was carrying about 20 pounds of camera gear, by the way).
Indigenous Church Planting Brings in Bountiful Harvest
The harvest is great in Kayanza Province. There are 30 other “district leaders” there besides the 5 in the photo. Each one has planted at least 10 house churches in the past 2 years. That is at least 350 churches. Our primary contact in Burundi, Bienvenu Bizimana, estimates that since he was given The Disiciple-Making Minister by an American missionary and mutual friend named Greg a little over 2 years ago, 3,000 house churches have been planted in 5 provinces in Burundi through the network he leads. They are now on their ninth generation of disciples. Just about all 3,000 of the leaders of those churches have a copy of the Kirundi translation of The Disciple-Making Minister, although many are illiterate and need someone to read it to them. Even if Bienvenu has miscalculated by 50%, that would still be 1,500 house churches planted in 2 years.
I stayed healthy during my entire time in Burundi, even eating some salads on several evenings (a no-no for missionaries). But Brussels Airlines apparently poisoned me on my flight from Burundi to Belgium. I’m almost home in Pittsburgh as I write, having had no desire for any food since Belgium, and just sipping on ginger ale and hot tea. It will be good to get home. Thanks for joining me on this journey. — David