melted face

Nobody would have ever believed it possible, but it has indeed happened.

There is always hope, even in the most apparently hopeless situations.

So I just wanted to share the joy of Freddy (formerly-melted-faced-beggar-now-graduated-with-distinction-from-university-and-married) and Floride having their first baby yesterday. Oli weighed in at 3.5kg and came into this world by C-section.

For your prayers, he’s trying to get set up with a new pharmacy business, but it’s hard to do it honestly, which is causing significant delays. May there be a breakthrough somehow.

Wishing them all joy and success in their new adventure together!

Read the background to his story here.



At the height of the crisis in the 1990s, when he was a student at university, someone threw a grenade into Leonidas’ dormitory. Nobody was killed on that occasion, but amongst his many shrapnel wounds, the piece that lodged in his eye has caused ongoing issues ever since. Yet he is not one to seek revenge or harbour feelings of resentment or bitterness.

Leonidas is one of our turbo-charged evangelists, preaching forgiveness and reconciliation around the country through Scripture Union. He’s been greatly used, and continues serving faithfully through many constant challenges.

I love highlighting stories of hope when so often all you hear is the bad stuff. Keep it up Leonidas and SU!




Sorry if you’ve already seen this, we’ve had some horrible technical glitches over the last few days.

I’d like to invite you to join with us today in answering the prayer request of a little boy in Burundi called Theogene.

Theogene is an orphan who lives with his brother in a makeshift shack in Ciya province, cobbled together with banana leaves from the bush. His parents were killed when he was tiny and he and his brother have struggled to survive ever since. Hunger is a constant reality. School fees are prohibitively expensive and Theogene simply cannot afford the essential uniform and stationery. Without education and ‘Christ’s hands and feet’, he and his brother will stay stuck in the cruel cycle of poverty and deprivation. There seems no way out for Theogene and so many others like them.

Or so you might have thought…

Theogene and his friends have already shown amazing initiative in facing their challenges. They got together with other fatherless children who couldn’t afford school, and began to grow aubergines.

They not only managed to grow the aubergines but they also sold them and made a small profit. After that, and with a little help and support from GLO, they created a community fund to pay for their schooling and uniform. Beautiful!

But the money is running out, so they’ve prayed about it and have asked for help to buy rabbits. They want to start farming rabbits!

Can you be the answer to Theogene’s prayer?

With your help and support, the team can intervene over the coming months with rabbits and so much more; life skills, discipleship and community development. A significant number of folks in the community have already come to faith through our engagement, working with our partner, J-Life.

Could you help Theogene and others like him this Easter?

A litter of six rabbits costs just £12/$15. Providing a Kirundi Bible costs £7/$9. You can also support Theogene and his brother to grow in God’s ways through Bible classes, visits and training, which costs the team around £45/$59 for three months.

A group of widows in the community are equally enterprising and plan to start a soap-making enterprise, which will cost £988/$1293 to set up.

If you’d like to provide some real Easter hope for Theogene, his brother, the widows and their friends, and help them escape poverty for good, please go to www.greatlakesoutreach.org/donate

Enjoy some chocolate rabbits or eggs this Easter, but more importantly, here’s to empowering many precious people with real ‘Easter resurrection rabbits’!



…but still joyfully willing to pay the price.

In the West, in nations not obviously faced with severe constraints on freedom of religion, people can easily trot out the glib pronouncements that all religions are the same, that your truth is whatever works for you, that Islam is a religion of peace, etc. But our experience on the ground would suggest otherwise. Moza’s story is a common one in Burundi.

And it is as offensive to Muslims as it is to Christians to say their religions are the same, that whatever works for you is fine. They are fundamentally different. We are called to love and respect each other completely, but not dumb down our differences and compromise our belief systems. I think our approach is honouring to both sides, and this beautiful short film avoids inflammatory rhetoric that is easy to slip into.

If anyone wants to support our work in this area, there are many folks who are suffering for choosing the Truth, and they need support, having been kicked out of their families (like Moza), lost their chance to go to school, etc.

Please click here if you would like to help.

God bless you!


On the back of last week’s Phone-Call/Email from God, I got this brilliant response from a friend, which I wanted to share with you:

I know friends who read your emails and they are hungry for more of God. However, there is a passiveness in the ‘waiting for the phone call’. They are paralysed by the big end to the stories and they don’t know how to get there.

 You have a powerful voice and many people read your emails what would be amazing would be to hear you encourage those first baby steps. There are few people who will read your email and reply to say ‘yes take me to Burundi’ (I know that isn’t just what you are asking), but there are plenty of people who maybe would be encouraged to take a first baby step. This could be simply cooking a meal regularly for a local neighbour, prayer walking their area, stopping to talk to a homeless person, choosing to help at Foodbank, there are endless examples.

For our journey, it started with inviting a group of mothers each week to our small apartment for an afternoon of chaos (five 3-year-old boys in a small space) and eating a meal together – how lonely those mothers were and how precious that time became – to me serving as a chair of governors at our local school which was so hard, yet now I am in conversation with the council about a city-wide education initiative using a project based learning linked with schools in Brazil. My husband followed a desire to find a house for some refugees and 18 months on finds he has started and now runs a city housing festival with nationwide impact.

I look back and think I waited too long for my ‘phone call’ moment. Actually we needed to get on and do… Ed Silvoso says start with asking someone you know what their needs are…

They are little steps but they start the adventure.

I guess what I am asking is please encourage people in your emails to take the first small step. The rest is up to God! As Christians, I think we get focused on the big ending and that can be intimidating as we don’t know how to get there, but how our hearts long for it! All our testimonies start with a small step.


She’s so right. Thank you, Jo! I hope what she wrote above is a helpful corrective and encouragement, and I’m genuinely sorry if my email(s) elicited anything negative in you, that’s the last thing I’d want.

Indeed, I look back on the Burundi adventure, and it was filled with many small steps. The first step was the prayer: ‘I’ll do anything, go anywhere!’ Then came the language-learning, the cultural adaptation, the building of relationships and trust.

Step by step, the hard yards.

So let’s not feel condemned, inadequate or passed by. As Oswald Chambers said: “It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional thing for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.”

One step at a time.



A phone call changed the trajectory of my life. Many of you know the story already.* And this weekend, we hung out with a man (pictured above, Lizzie and I, with Ted and Lorraine) for whom likewise a phone call rocked his world and gave it a remarkable trajectory. I want to share his story because you don’t need a phone call to experience what he and I have, but the potential of being open and ready to say ‘yes!’ is simply extraordinary.​
Ted Bosveld was visiting Rwanda in 2006 when his phone rang. It was my best Burundian buddy Freddy on the line. He’d never met Ted, but he asked him to jump on a bus and come down to Burundi to see what was going on there with Youth for Christ. Ted knew nothing about Burundi, and declined.​
He continues the story: “After my return to Australia, this conversation with a man I had never met, in a country I had never heard of, with a request I knew in my soul was way out of my comfort zone, beyond anything I had ever imagined doing, challenged me for many sleepless nights. It was a request to go to the world’s poorest country to help house and feed orphans.​
I grappled with this for many months without ever communicating to Freddy my inner unrest. Finally, in December 2006, I emailed Freddy explaining all that had been challenging me over the past months since we had spoken on the phone. His reply was quick. He explained that he and his YFC team had been praying every Wednesday for a man named Ted from Australia, a man they had never met, from a country most of them had never heard of before. They were believing that God would move and do the miraculous. They believed that God would send someone from Tasmania, Australia, which is about as far away from Burundi as you can get. They were believing the impossible, from a God to whom nothing is impossible.”​
To cut a long story short, Ted – a regular bloke working in the construction industry – started a charity called Villages of Life, and came alongside Freddy and GLO partner Youth for Christ. He started small, steadily mobilised others to join him in the vision, and twelve years later, there are now seven homes, a community centre / medical clinic, the best-ranked school in Cibitoke province with 430-plus students, and a sustainability farming project, with more in the pipeline.​
Two phone calls. Two different stories.​
Now, this isn’t a phone call, it’s a blog. ​
But it’s an invitation to ‘do a Ted’. As we sat on his patio and reminisced over a BBQ, I was struck by how God can use any of us in truly extraordinary ways. ​
My invitation today – not appropriate to some of you, no doubt – is to ‘flag’ this blog or put it in your ‘important’ folder, and then pray and ask God if He would take your life and write a Ted-type story, in Burundi or elsewhere in this needy world. And if you would say ‘yes’ to God, maybe in 12 years we could have a BBQ at your place and reminisce about the journey from that blog… why not?​
If you’d like to write that story in Burundi, we’re as good a place as any. We’ve got some massive needs to address. Might God use you, starting small, to do something beautiful that impacts many lives? Give me a shout, and let’s do it together!
* I’d been praying: “God, I’ll do anything, go anywhere.” A man came to me asking/telling me I should go to Burundi. So I asked God for a radical sign about Burundi, sat at my desk job. I promptly took a call, and the voice on the other end asked me out of the blue: “Do you know anyone who wants to work in Burundi?” That was my call to Burundi, and it completely transformed and defined the last twenty years of my life.


Do you want to take part in the ride of a lifetime?

Join the 7th GLO African Cycling Fundraiser Tour in Rwanda. Fly in on the 23rd May, ride 25th to 31st May, and fly home 1st June.

We aim to give you the best ten days of your last five years, and many agree at the end of it – it really is an amazing experience.

Are you in? Or do you know anyone who might be? Do pass this on to any cycling friends.

For more information, contact us at info@greatlakesoutreach.org

“The time was a period of true euphoria, ‘being in a zone’ and any other superlative that might be used to describe in total visiting a gorgeous tropical and mountainous country, local people giving you rock-star like treatment, immersion in a band of brothers type atmosphere with complete strangers that transform into likely lifelong friends, and feeling a sense of purpose and spirituality like nothing I have ever experienced anytime, anywhere in my life.”


kid with present

Scripture Union Treasurer Tharcisse writes to me:

‘Dear brother Simon,
I’m writing to you, as I do every year, however embarrassing it is for me. Because without your help this Christmas will be a day like any other.
I’m a father and husband, and I long to be able to buy my wife something – maybe a new dress to show my appreciation – and get my children some chocolates and meat for Christmas, the one day of the year that they have that expectation. But I and so many others, find making ends meet tough because of the
socio-economic crisis we are in. 
Please could you help me/us with something, however small, as you usually do? We are so grateful.

J life team

It gets me every time that such faithful servants, who have been willing to suffer for the gospel and with whom I’ve journeyed over the last twenty years, struggle to make ends meet. And I’ve always had lots of meat/chocolate/presents to enjoy. It seems so wrong, and unfair that they don’t. But with your help, 500+ families of those who work with us (i.e. a few thousand children with their parents) will be able to have at least one present, some chocolate and meat on Christmas day. We plan to give each family £25/$30.
If you want to help us bless God’s workers in Burundi, click here for the UK and here for the USA.
Simon Guillebaud



buying Bibles

At last!

Rosemary Guillebaud will be dancing in heaven!

I blogged on this back in April, and it’s taken until this week because of various frustrating delays, but now I’m so happy to be able to say that the new updated version of the Kirundi Bible has been launched in Burundi!!!

I’ll paste the previous blog below for context. Many thanks for all those who sowed money into this, so that we were able to help the Burundian Bible Society to get the project over the finishing line. Now may the new version be quickly accepted (there are always some who are resistant to change) and get out there into the hands of thousands of hungry believers. Do pray for that.

And if you wanted to buy any Christmas Bibles, feel free to do so here (mention ‘Bibles’)

Here are some of the pictures…

“Please, please we need Bibles! And not just any Bible, but a new version. The old one I can hardly understand!”

I could have been offended, but I’m not. You see, my great-aunt, Rosemary Guillebaud, was the person who brought God’s Word to Burundians in their own language, after twenty years of hard graft working on it.

But that was a long time ago – 1967 to be precise – and language evolves steadily. You’d understand the King James Version in English better than Burundians understand Rosemary’s 1967 Kirundi translation.

For example, ‘imbata ya Yesu’ meant ‘slave/servant of Christ’ back then, now it means ‘duck of Christ’ – that’s just no good…

And Rosemary wouldn’t be offended at all. In fact, she’d be frustrated that a new version hadn’t been released before now. I know this would have her full blessing.

So here’s the good news: after many years of hard work, the revised new Kirundi version is ready! It just needs ordering. But the Bible Society here is broke.

I’m desperate to see these new Bibles get into as many hands as possible, and gain broad acceptance by the Body of Christ in Burundi. So we really need your help if we’re going to raise the money for the Bible Society to get a copy of the new Bible into the hands of every Burundian who wants one.

I’m so excited to be a part of this – together we can make it happen. You can donate here.

A subsidised, beautiful, freshly-printed Kirundi Bible costs £7 or $10, with import duties and transport costs. The first print run will be 5000. So we need £35,000 or $50,000. Then we’ll have played a huge role to bless the Body of Christ in Burundi. Please join me!

Could you buy 10 Bibles for £70 or $100, a hundred for £700 or $1000? More, or less? Every one counts.

I hate hearing false teaching. It grieves me when I hear a zealous evangelist preaching a slightly twisted message because his knowledge is stunted due to not having access to a Bible. In our work in schools, we often find the leaders of the Christian Unions, with maybe a hundred students in their care, without their own Bible. That’s wrong, but together, we can easily help put this right.

Please help us make it right. The impact will be stunning, and lasting, into eternity. Please click here to contribute. All money raised will go into this, getting the word out and getting people grounded and equipped in God’s Word.

In a few months – in faith – I’ll send you pictures of the new imported Bibles in the hands of brothers and sisters in Christ here, and you’ll see the biggest smiles ever. That’s a promise!

Thanks for partnering with us to make this happen!



My blog has crashed for a while so this should have been out ten days ago. Apologies if you’ve already seen it.

It’s alive!

Please watch this beautiful film, which tells some of the King’s Conference Centre story – it’s under two minutes. And then, I’d love you to read on…

Indeed, King’s Conference Centre is alive! Jobs are being created, profits are being made and sown back into the work in Burundi, training is being given to empower people.

So much more than a building project, these are living stones with an impact throughout the nation. Our teams around the country can reach so many people because this thriving social enterprise creates funds to plough back into outreach work. It’s a wonderful witness in the toughest of economic and security contexts!

Our mantra is excellence in Jesus’ name, and it’s called King’s Conference Centre because it belongs to the King of Kings.

In fact, if you go on Tripadvisor, we are the no.1 hotel in Burundi.

But we need to provide more jobs and reach more people, so we are in the final stages of expanding KCC. Once complete, much of our work will be beautifully sustainable, changing lives forever – it’s stunning!

The last big wedge of money is now needed to get us over the finishing line. The five storeys are built, windows and doors and electrical work are nearly complete. What remains is equipping this sizeable building.

Would you consider buying into KCC with its vision to create income which funds seeing many lives transformed? It’s already amazingly fruitful but the expansion will enable us to reach so many more lives and provide more jobs. On the top floor will be a 24/7 prayer room, uniting denominations in priceless prayer for the nation.

Could you pitch in? If everyone reading this gives $26/ £15 or more, we could finish the job straight away and change lives forever.

Every little (or large) bit helps. Please, if you want to sow however much, do so by clicking here £ or here $

Thank God they’re not just bricks and mortar, they’re living stones! And so are you.

Thank you for your prayers and support; without you, none of this would be possible.