Today our team drove into the mountains of Burundi to visit some Heaven’s Family-sponsored national missionaries, distribute food to some very poor believers, place a chlorine-generating water purifier in a village where the water is making almost everyone sick, meet some micro-loan beneficiaries, and interview church planters who need bicycles to take the gospel further. We also met a pastor whom I inadvertently caused to lose his job. His name is Gregoire Bizimana. Let me tell you the story.
With the help of our primary Burundian partner, Bienvenu Bizimana, 5,000 copies of The Disciple-Making Minister (TDMM) in Burundi’s national language of Kirundi have been distributed to Christian leaders. Part of the result has been that, in the past 3 years, about 3,000 house churches have been planted across Burundi through 9 generations of Bienvenu’s disciples.
Bienvenu is an excellent teacher, and we’ve helped him conduct pastors’ conferences in various provinces of Burundi. He always distributes TDMM books at those conferences. Last December he journeyed to Ruyigi Province, where he attended a service at Maranatha Church and afterwards spoke with the pastor, Gregoire, who happened to share his family name. Here is the rest of the story in Bienvenu’s words:
I showed Gregoire photos of the pastor’s conferences we are doing around the country and testified how God is touching and impacting pastors for the great commission of Jesus Christ.
Immediately, Gregoire offered to sign and send out invitations to pastors of several denominations around the province to attend the conference and offered his church building as our conference venue! I praised God for a new door and left him with a Kirundi copy of TDMM before I went my way!
Three weeks later, on our conference date, my team and I were welcomed by Gregoire who told us that his bishops had read the book and said it was heresy; they forbade him to host the conference. He asked them to show what the heresy was; they said nothing except that it is not possible for human beings to make disciples as Jesus did because He was God!
Gregoire told them that he sensed it was God’s plan and timing to visit the Church of Ruyigi with such a transformational teaching of making disciples in an easy and simple way! They confiscated his Kirundi TDMM and gave him an ultimatum stating that if he hosts the pastor’s conference, he will be chased out of the denomination!
We asked Gregoire how he wanted to handle the situation and he said: “Following and obeying Jesus is about taking decision and being ready to face the consequences.” The fact is that Gregoire was about to forfeit his pastoral title and financial support from his denomination.
We conducted the conference smoothly until the end of the second day when his bishops came in, to say that our teachings were dangerous and unbiblical. They did not give us time to dialogue, but asked us to leave the building. Then they chained the doors. However, we were able to distribute 50 TDMMs to pastors who were determined to make disciples who make disciples!
Pastor Gregoire not only lost his job, but was forced by his bishops to vacate the church parsonage.
When two Heaven’s Family-sponsored national missionaries in a distant province heard what happened to Gregoire, they invited him and his family to come and stay with them until he could get back on his feet and restart his ministry. Gregoire accepted their kindness. Heaven’s Family is also helping Gregoire to make ends meet through a small-business start-up grant.
A number of the pastors who attended Bienvenu’s abbreviated Ruyigi Province conference have asked him to return, and they’ve offered their churches as a venue. And pastor Gregoire, although no longer employed by his denomination, is happy to be employed by the Lord as a disciple-making minister. He’s already planting churches in the homes of new believers!