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Heaven's Family Magazine
January 2011 Issue

A New Lease for Tharcisse

The Christians with Disabilties Fund at Work in Burundi

CJ McDaniel, Disabilities Ministry

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Tharcisse and Anita with their three children, Vanessa, Gloria and Fabrice

Tharcisse’s parents were an easy target. Unscrupulous traditional “healers”—of whom there are many in Burundi, one of Africa’s poorest nations—knew that their medicines would do nothing to heal Tharcisse’s atrophied legs. That didn’t stop them, however, from promising his desperate parents that they could cure their precious baby—for a price. Full of hope, they sold their only asset—a small plot of farmland—to pay for his costly treatments. When that money was exhausted, their infant son was no better.

Tharcisse’s impoverished parents found themselves with few alternatives. So when he was just five years old, his father began setting him at the edge of the street every morning to beg. His meager income from begging, plus the small amount his parents earned from working in the fields, barely kept the family alive.

When Tharcisse was 20 years old, his father died. His mother remarried a man who wanted nothing to do with her handicapped son, so Tharcisse had to move out. On his own, he found shelter in houses that were under construction. He also found a wife—a woman named Anita who was also a handicapped beggar with a deformed back and hip. They soon had their firstborn child, a son, but were too poor to adequately feed him. He died before his first birthday. Three daughters followed who survived, but Tharcisse and Anita were too poor to send their oldest to school when she reached school age.

Some years later, a close friend of Tharcisse—a fellow beggar named Lazare Nizigama—invited him to attend his baptism at the beach. There he met the Heaven’s Family-sponsored national missionary who had led Lazare to the Lord. After the baptism, that missionary boldly addressed Tharcisse:

“Your friend has repented of his sins and has been baptized in obedience to Jesus’ commandments. So do you want to go to hell while your friend enters heaven?”

Tharcisse immediately repented and was baptized, joyfully receiving Jesus as his Lord. He went home and led Anita to Christ.

After learning of Tharcisse’s situation and of his new faith, Heaven’s Family provided him with a hand-operated tricycle, made possible by gifts to the Christians with Disabilties Fund. Tharcisse no longer has to shuffle along the ground on his hands. By means of gifts to that same fund, he also received a small business loan of $400, through which he started a market shop where he sells beans and rice. Now he is able to support his family with dignity. Daughter Vanessa is attending school for the first time in her life. The family has a two-room home of their own.

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(Left) Tharcisse outside his shop in Bujumbura, Burundi (Right) Tharcisse with his hand-operated tricycle

Tharcisse’s life is much better now—thanks to his new relationship with Christ—and thanks to others who sacrificed their own riches to help him. They have demonstrated their love for Jesus, incarnated in Tharcisse and others like him. Thank you all!

The Bigger Picture:

Although it is a theological mystery why some are born with birth defects, it is no mystery that God cares for the handicapped and expects His people to care as well. Heaven’s Family’s Christians with Disabilties Fund is your love-link to “the least of these” who are physically disabled now, but who will certainly be whole in heaven—where they will personally thank those who had compassion on them during their earthly sojourn.

Help meet the pressing needs of disabled Christians

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This Month's Articles

Strategic Stewardship

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Parting Shot: An Illustration About Salvation

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As I trailed these bicyclists for miles up a long mountain road in Burundi, I couldn’t help but think of how their faith contrasted with the “works” of the solitary bicyclist on the left who chose to push his bicycle to the top. Their faith, however, still had to work, because they had to hold on, and continue holding on, until their goal was reached! — David