In last month’s magazine, CJ McDaniel told the encouraging story of Ildephonse Bigrimana, a handicapped beggar in Burundi, East Africa, who was led to Christ by a Heaven’s Family-sponsored native missionary. Through gifts to the Handicapped Christians Fund, we set Ildephonse up in a small grocery business, by which he was able to support his wife, Odetta, and their son, Samuel.
Shortly after CJ wrote his report, we received heart-breaking news about Ildephonse and his family.
Late one night, five men armed with guns broke into their single-room house that also served as their small business. The intruders began to confiscate their meager possessions and grocery store inventory. They also searched for hidden money, as poor people can’t put their savings in banks. Odetta verbally resisted, telling the thieves that God would punish them. They reacted by gagging both her and Ildephonse. But that was not the worst of it.
Two of the burglars pinned Ildephonse to the dirt floor and beat him. The other three took turns raping Odetta.
After what seemed like an eternity, the intruders disappeared into the dark carrying two sacks and one box holding almost everything Ildephonse and Odetta owned. Ildephonse overheard one of the thieves justify their savagery by scornfully remarking that handicapped people are condemned to poverty.
When we learned of their ordeal, Heaven’s Family responded immediately with funds for Odetta to visit the hospital. She had some lesions and was still in pain several days after her trauma. Thankfully, tests revealed that she had not contracted HIV. Doctors wanted to give her an abortifacient drug in case she was pregnant, but she and Ildephonse decided that if that were the case, they would keep the baby and raise it as their own. Just before this article went to press, Odetta tested negative for pregnancy.
Heaven’s Family also sent funds to help Ildephonse and Odetta move to a more secure home (two rooms instead of just one), and to help them rent a secure stall in the marketplace where they can sell groceries each day and lock them up securely at night. So now their home and business are separate, which makes them more safe. We also set them up with new business inventory, some household items, and clothing to replace all that had been stolen. Now they are doing better than before their ordeal, thanks to the love of their family.