|Twin brothers, Moses and Joshua, and their mother, whose husband attended our two-day pastors’ conference
Yesterday I stayed at our hotel the entire day to catch up on writing my HeavenWord Daily devotionals and attend to a backlog of emails waiting to be answered. Teryl, Danny, and John spent the day sharing at our conference for about twenty-five house church leaders. Today, however, I was blessed to be at the conference. All of those who attended are either house church pastors, and/or network leaders who oversee a number of house churches in a specific geographical area.
It was not a typical pastors’ conference, in that it was held, not in a church building or auditorium, but in a very humble African house. Overfed pastors from America didn’t sit in the front on a raised platform while underfed black pastors sat in rows at a lower elevation. (Forgive me for writing that, but I did.) There was no “special seating” for the bishops because there were no “bishops.” We all sat in a circle. It was not a rigid program of consecutive sermons that were designed to impress the delegates, nor a preaching competition. Rather, it was hours of enjoyable and edifying interaction and sharing between brothers and sisters, just like the Bible says our church gatherings are supposed to be (1 Cor.14:26). At the end, we shared a meal together.
And it was all done under the approving eye of President Barack Obama, whose image smiled at us from a 2009 calendar on the wall! Who could ask for anything more?
Left to right: John Carey, the Burundi house church leaders, and Teryl Hebert. On the back wall is a Barack Obama 2009 calendar with the heading, “Yes We Can.”
Teryl being inspected by one-year old Moses
After the conference, we headed back to our hotel for a couple of hour’s rest before traveling to the outdoor site that had been designated for our evangelistic outreach, a very poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Bujumbura. When we arrived, the worship band was already playing and a crowd of perhaps five- to seven-hundred people had gathered. They were all standing behind the four lengths of a rope fence that had been erected to cordon them off quite far from the platform. We did not understand why they were kept so far from the platform (and we still don’t understand).
Within a few minutes of our arrival, John Carey was invited to the platform to preach. He made a very clear presentation of the gospel and then turned it over to Bienvenu, who, after a short exhortation, invited people forward to become “disciples of Christ and followers of Jesus” — no “inviting Jesus into your hearts” or “accepting Jesus as personal Savior.”
The first person who came forward was an elderly man who later told us that he had attended a Catholic church for two years and a Protestant church for two years, seeking for the truth, but this was the first time he ever heard about becoming a disciple of Jesus. He said that he was going to tell everyone in his neighborhood about it. (See his photo below.)
Others streamed forward until about fifty people were kneeling in the dirt and being led in a prayer of repentance. Afterwards, they were taken to a special place and were instructed to return tomorrow to the same location where they could be baptized and be further instructed on how to be disciples of Jesus.
So it was a glorious time. The worship band started playing, lots of people started dancing (particularly the hoards of children), and soon we were all standing in a cloud of dust as darkness settled over us.
Below I’ve included a few photos from the crusade. Rejoice as you view them, knowing that you had a part in the blessings, because Heaven’s Family funded the crusade. — David
John Carey preaching the gospel with Bienvenu interpreting
Some of the crowd standing behind the rope fence
A Muslim girl who listened to the gospel
Paying attention to the preaching!
Most of the children were dressed in ragged clothes
Kneeling in repentance. They came from four directions. Note how far they had to walk in everyone’s full view.
This is the elderly man I mentioned who was first to come forward at the altar call