man with growth

Greetings!

It’s with great pleasure I can feed back to you about another explosively fruitful summer outreach with Harvest Initiatives in Burundi from the 4th – 18thAugust, just last month. Here are a few of the many stories:

· At Mukike, a witchdoctor called Domitile repented as she heard our evangelists. She handed over her paraphernalia and gave her life to Christ – whereupon twenty others in her village did too, including her husband!

· In Gihanga, little Simplice was blind. Our team prayed for him but nothing seemed to happen. His parents returned the next day ecstatic that he could now see. Consequently they’re going to church and seeking God.
· A woman hadn’t walked properly for three years. Our team prayed for her. She felt she was healed, and chose to follow Jesus. The team returned the next morning for a follow-up visit, but she wasn’t at home. She’d gone back to her fields to work for the first time in all those three years!

· In Kirundo, a man was sleeping one afternoon and dreamed that a group of people would arrive at his door with a message. He woke up, opened the door, and one of our teams were approaching. They asked if they could share the gospel, and he said he’d just dreamed about them and they should talk away! Having never been to church or heard the gospel, he promptly gave became a follower of Jesus.

· Another witchdoctor, called Cumacareta (meaning ‘tool of the State’) listened to the preaching of some team members and was so impacted that he converted, and said he wanted to change his name to Cumacakriso (meaning ‘tool of Christ’)! He took the team to talk to his wife and she likewise chose to follow Jesus.

That’s just a few snippets. In briefest summary, the statistics read:

* 602 people were sent out in 33 teams, of which 2 teams were not allowed to operate.
* 5,870 people professed faith in Christ for the first time.
* 2,859 backslidden folks chose to come back to Jesus and get stuck in again.
* 36 healings/exorcisms/dramatic miracles took place (a selected few told here).
* 7 witchdoctors burnt their charms and chose new life in Christ.
* 5 Muslims made the costly decision to follow Jesus.

Not as dramatic but no less beautiful is the story of Magongo, pictured on the right. It epitomises the work of all our teams in showing God’s love to people. Magongo had gradually developed this horrific growth in his right eye. He was so disfigured, he would always stay indoors so nobody would see him, and he was so poor he couldn’t afford any hospital treatment at all. Our team heard about him and went to share Christ and pray for him in his hovel. He wasn’t healed physically, but he was healed spiritually, as he surrendered his life to Christ. The team went around the community sharing his story, and raised two thirds of the money needed for him to begin receiving treatment. The whole community was mobilised to bless this broken man – wonderfull!

So thanks to all of you for praying. As for the previous twelve years of this activity, we have seen some stunning things happen. Now beyond converts they need to become disciples, so do pray for that. We’re committed to making it happen. If you want to help us with the follow-up, please donate HERE.

Fabulous news!

God bless you all,

Simon Guillebaud

PS Thanks also to all those who donated for the children to get back to school, we were able to help about 1,500 have uniforms, pens, books, etc. Folks were so grateful, it was an answer to intense prayers. SO GOOD!

family pic in Devon

After another frenetic and fruitful summer of preaching and family fun, the big day has arrived. Tomorrow we embark on our 33-country 10-month preaching and world-schooling tour. I feel a mixture of emotions – excited, daunted, and if I’m honest a tinge of fear.

Why the tinge of fear? Well, we’ve got a good marriage (I usually describe it as great, whilst Lizzie says it’s good!), but I sense it’ll be tested in new ways this year on the road. And the kids are experiencing the pains of transitioning out of the stability of their home in Burundi. None of them wanted to stop living there, but their educational needs somewhat forced our hand. I’m glad they didn’t want to leave, because it means they love the country and will always have great memories of it.

But will we survive the 10-month adventure of a lifetime? Josiah (9) is repeatedly saying: “I don’t want to go on the world tour.” He’s been sick in bed today, so I hope he is on better form tomorrow. Last Christmas, we left Burundi for two weeks in South Africa, and when we returned, he went along the corridor of our house kissing the walls, saying: “I’m so glad to be home!” He’s a home-boy so this is a huge deal. Grace (10) was tearful last night in expressing how she longed to have a home and how it’s not nice being homeless. Zac (12) is OKish but like the others repeatedly states he’d prefer to be returning to Burundi this week to our house, our pets, our friends, as we always did the first week each September up until this year. Naturally they are clinging to the familiar, and we are about to launch out into so many unknowns. These are important but undeniably painful life-lessons in the making…

So time will tell. Some friends are taking bets on how long we’ll last – contact Justin if you want to add your wager! I hope we last all the way – indeed I’m relatively confident we will – but if you could lift up the kids particularly, and our marriage, I’d be grateful. If they plain hate it – a scenario that gave me a sleepless night earlier this week – or Lizzie and I end up at loggerheads, then we’ll return early as there are more important things in life.

I considered setting up a different family blog page for this year, but have decided to post both Burundi news and family news here. If you signed up explicitly for Burundi stuff, I’ll understand if you want to unsubscribe. But if you want to continue to be part of our journey by following our antics as well as getting GLO news, please stay with us.

And please don’t think I’m just bunking off and having a holiday for the year! For example, this coming weekend I’ll be preaching four times in Brussels. There are ministry opportunities all over the place, and my work for GLO continues remotely several hours each day in connecting, networking, fundraising etc as I fly the Burundi flag and grow our support base around the world. Meantime Onesphore is doing a stunning job steering the GLO ship in Burundi, and I’ll feed back to you shortly the beautiful fruit of our summer outreach campaign.

The plan is to attempt to home-school along the way, and we’ll see how that goes. I hope it’ll be an amazing year of discovery and discipleship for the kids, as we experience many different cultures and contexts, and get stuck into various projects wherever we go. It’s a huge privilege to do, so may we maximise it.

That’ll do for now. Below is our schedule:

5th September – leave UK, to France and Belgium
10th September – Netherlands
12th September – Germany
14th September – Denmark
15th September – Sweden
Monday 17th September – Berlin
19th September – Poland
22nd September – Slovakia
25th September – Hungary and Romania
1st October – Bulgaria
4th October – Macedonia
8th October – Albania
12th October – Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia
19th October – Slovenia
23rd October – through Italy to Switzerland
29th October – Germany
31st October – back to UK
7th November – Israel
15th November – Jordan
22nd November – Dubai
Monday 25th November – India
10th December – Myanmar
19th December – Thailand
31st December – Cambodia
9th January – Singapore
10th January – Australia
12th February – New Zealand
18th March – Peru
31st March – USA
1st March – brief foray into Mexico
3rd March – back into USA
20th June – Canada
25th June – back into USA
1st July – oof, back to UK and finding a house to rent in Bath in time for starting school in September!

child in school uniform

Last year at this time I penned the following, which is the same situation today:

Aaarrgh! I write this angry and sad and tearful and frustrated. And I want to write now whilst I feel deeply raw. I’ve said before how I love and hate Burundi in equal measure. I love the people – their faith, generosity, perseverance; but I hate the poverty, injustice and suffering.

I’ve just had a horrible conversation with a wonderful woman. This is the hardest time of the year for folks here, because it’s back to school for the kids – or not, as the case may be. Through tears she pleaded with me on behalf of her staff:

“Simon, we can’t send our children back to school this Monday because we have no money to buy the uniform and school book and pencil. We go without food, sanitary towels, everything, but still can’t make it. It’s often the children of parents in ministry who are the first to drop out. Please, please help my team, I beg you!”

What do I say to that? I love her, her gospel ministry (in this case through the radio), her faithful colleagues working for a pittance (or actually not getting any salary for the last number of months because there’s no money in the kitty).

I’m a parent. My kids have always been able to attend school. If you’re a parent, it probably never crossed your mind that they wouldn’t go to school. What would I not do for my kids? It’s so unfair.

So, my beloved, beautiful, broken Burundi, I hate you at times. How I wrestle with these totally non-abstract issues that smack me in the face daily here…

Will you hear Rachel’s plea through me? One of my roles is as a voice for the voiceless. “Please, please, I beg you!” £20/$25 would get one child back to school for this week for the coming year. Could you help 1, 3, 5, 10?

Her line haunts me: “It’s often the children of parents in ministry who are the first to drop out.”

That is SO WRONG!

We are now directly linked with 510 families and wanting to provide each of them with a gift that will be the answer from God that they have been praying for, so that their their kids are not barred from school. If you want to donate, please click here. If we reach our target, the excess will go into meeting other crucial needs.

Be very blessed today! Be a blessing today!

A famous witchdoctor called Makari received what he thought were prospective ‘clients’ into his den. His reputation went before him and so our evangelists wanted to challenge his authority. When they revealed their identity, the power of God came on him and he fell to the ground. When he came to, he sat and listened to their preaching. He believed in Jesus and asked them to return two days later when he would burn all his charms publicly. When they duly returned, they found Makari had invited all his relatives and other witchdoctor friends. He declared before all of them that he had turned to Christ, and proceeded to burn his charms. At that point our team preached and a further fifty people decided to follow Christ! Makari is now a member of Emmanuel church, along with his family.

In Isale, a team of evangelists went to share the gospel in a bar. While they were talking, a young man became very angry with them. The following day, this antagonistic man came to see them, and gave his life to Christ. He then told them that when they were preaching in the bar he had been about to beat them, but when he had tried to stand up to attack them, he had felt a mighty hand jamming him down in his chair, and that undeniable power is what forced him to surrender his life to Jesus.

Young Libere was on one of our teams in Busiga. He’d never seen a healing miracle. And yet, he found himself witnessing to an old woman who had been paralyzed for three years. He sensed the Lord telling him: “Miracles accompany the preaching of the Word.” So he responded in obedience and faith, and commanded the lady to stand up. She stood up immediately and started dancing with joy! Libere was amazed to see the power and faithfulness of God. He exclaimed: “Now I believe that God is powerful and can work with whoever believes in him regardless of his age or denomination. I will spend the rest of my life proclaiming the love of God.”

 

The above are just a sample of literally hundreds of stories from outreaches undertaken by Harvest Initiatives over the last twelve years. And as of tomorrow, for the next two weeks(4th-18thAugust), we are sending out another 600+ evangelists across the countryfor our annual summer campaign – my favourite activity of the year, and no doubt one of the most beautifulKingdom ventures taking place on the whole planet at this time.We anticipate 1000s of people encountering Jesus and choosing to follow Him.

So this is a plea to pray – daily if you can for the coming fortnight – for our guys to be bold, sensitive, healthy, anointed, effective, united, holy, protected, etc. Interestingly, the one year (of the last twelve) that I didn’t seek massive prayer back-up for this outreach, we experienced much more persecution and logistical problems. So all the more PLEASE PRAY!

I look forward to sharing with you again in the coming days some more stunning stories and statistics of God at work in beautiful Burundi.

 

‘Shortly before racing in the 1993 World Championships in Toronto, his brother rings to tell him his parents have been murdered and their bodies dumped down a latrine. He still runs and gets a medal, the first Burundian ever to do so…’

Below is the link to Nkaza’s testimony that we put on film last year. It’s well worth a listen.

He’s a national hero and using his influence for good. We support his organisation ‘Amani Africa Burundi’, and their latest strategy as peace-makers is to mobilise the youth nationwide to sign up to seven core values – integrity, honesty, humility, non-violence, unity, being agents of reconciliation and pursuing good over evil (my translation).

He wants to get every young person to sign up and embrace a positive role leading up to the 2020 elections. Everyone carries their identity card by law, but this could accompany it and be used to resist violence and broker peace in many tense situations. Whereas many in the past have been negatively manipulated, this is a beautiful vision which could have a key role in the nation. If anyone gets excited by this and wants to get behind him by sponsoring x hundred/thousand cards (100 at $5, 1000 at $50), do let me know.

Listen to Onesphore, the new GLO National Director, as he shares his vision for the Church in Burundi, and what we are trying to do to help. It’s a big dream, and we’ll need lots of support as our network expands. Since this film was taken, we’ve drawn in folks from Malawi, Congo, Tanzania, Angola and Uganda for training. Love it! If this gets your juices going and you want to help, do get in touch.

It was a memorable day in more ways than one…

We’d only just flown in from Africa the day before, and for logistical reasons were coming in by car from Southampton (Lizzie, her Dad, and the boys) and by train (Grace, my parents and I) from Henley.

When the British Ambassador rang me asking if we’d be willing to accept the award of an MBE – apart from thinking he was joking – I asked him if there were reasons not to accept that I might not have thought of. A small number of you have questioned the honours system, but I think the bottom line for us is that we see it as an award that we receive on behalf of a whole team of wonderful Burundian brothers and sisters, and as an opportunity for increased influence and promotion of Burundi moving forward.

So we arrived separately at Buckingham Palace, and prepared to meet the Queen. Lizzie had only just picked up our elderly Passat, which was covered in multiple splattered bird turds, but was still allowed into the Palace grounds. I asked the burly policeman holding his semi-automatic if there’d ever been as filthy a vehicle entering through the gates, and he chuckled and said there had indeed been worse! The car may have been clapped out, but Lizzie was resplendent. (See the photos below. I’ve got to include lots of them because they’re the most expensive ones I’ll ever buy, and we weren’t allowed cameras inside the Palace itself, but I refuse to be further fleeced for the film of us meeting and receiving our award in person!)

There were 95 of us being honoured, and we were the only couple amongst them. (Sir) Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees was one. I spoke to Heather Knight, English cricket captain, and winner of the World Cup, who was getting an OBE. We were a general hotch potch of all sorts of folks from different fields.

It was an extremely impressive affair, I have to say. The Palace is absolutely stunning. Guards stood motionless to attention everywhere in their refinery. Being such fans of the Queen, it was a minor disappointment that although she was upstairs in residence, we were instead presented our award by Prince Charles – but at 92-years-old, we can forgive Her Majesty for slacking off official duties a little!

And then it was our turn. We’d been briefed on how far to walk, where to stop, turn at right-angles, bow/curtsy, step forward to the dais, talk until he put out his hand to shake ours signifying the end of the conversation, and then step back still facing him, bow/curtsy, about turn and walk off.

The most beautiful thing happened as we stepped forward, which nobody else noticed except me: I’m a total cultural philistine when it comes to classical music. The only two pieces, I’m embarrassed to admit, that I can recognise at all are Handel’s Hallelujah chorus (everyone knows that one), and Rachmaninoff’s (hang on, let me just google to find out what it’s called) ‘Rhapsody on a theme from Paganini’. Rachmaninoff’s because it was the piece of music that Lizzie chose to walk into at our wedding, and I remember turning around at the altar and being utterly overcome by her pure beauty as she walked up the aisle towards me, such that tears immediately came to my eyes. Well, the live orchestra had been playing non-stop throughout the hour and a quarter ceremony, getting through lots of different splices of musical pieces. And just as we stepped forward, without missing a beat, they kicked in with that same Rachmaninoff piece. I smiled and looked upwards and took it as a little bonus affirmation from our Heavenly Father, who of course is the only Audience that really matters ultimately, even if it was nice to be in an earthly Palace surrounded by lots of important people.

A bonus piece of comedy was Lizzie forgetting to retreat and curtsy, instead just turning around and walking off, so I had to whisper her back like a naughty little schoolgirl, and I gave Prince Charles an apologetic wink!

Then after photos, we went to have a pub lunch with family and GLO staff and trustees, both past and present. There were speeches, tears, laughter, it was fabulous!

So that’s it. Folks, a huge thank you forjourneying with us over the last two decades or however long we’ve known each other. The adventure continues. The needs remain in Burundi, bigger than ever I’d say. We’re not slacking off. Please keep being generous and supporting the work. Enjoy the summer!

PS My lady doesn’t like public speaking, but this was a wonderful, coherent, emotional thanks and tribute to her late Mum (under 2mins). You don’t often get to hear Lizzie, so I wanted to share this with you…

Six years ago, there was an empty field. Now there is probably the best campus in the country.

The day before we flew out, it was Gitega International Academy’s second graduation.

Hot on the heels of gaining ACSI (international) accreditation in record time, it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the school’s progress and celebrate another year group’s achievements. The national TV cameras were there, and it was a superb event.

Below are a few pictures.

We’ve managed to raise £13,000 in the last two weeks for urgent (final) building requirements and equipping for the coming year. Once these last buildings are up, the school will have reached full capacity, and this will be a quite remarkable achievement over the last six years. GIA really needs another £10,000 or $12,000 to get over the line in terms of this and the last stipulations of the ACSI accreditation process. Do get in touch if you resonate with the beautiful vision of raising godly leaders for the transformation of the nation, and if you have the financial resources to help. And please pray that we manage to get it all done before next semester starts mid-August.

PLEASE READ THIS, IT IS VERY SIGNIFICANT NEWS:

After just two months shy of twenty years, I’ve stopped living in Burundi, as of last night.

My beloved nation has blessed me beyond imagining – and I don’t use that as a cliché.

I came as a single young nutter expecting to die before the age of thirty, and I now leave a balding mature-ish husband and father of three children! I came with dreams to see thousands come to Christ, and we were able to raise a movement that saw hundreds of thousands become followers of Jesus. I came to work under Scripture Union, but in the end we founded Great Lakes Outreach (GLO), and helped launch and consolidate eleven nation-shaping organisations. Wow, it has been an amazing journey.

And amidst tears, this chapter of living and working together as a family in Burundi has just come to an end – tears mixed with both joy and sadness. It’ll be hard to develop relationships of similar depth as those fostered by times of listening to gunfire and shelling together, braving dangerous roads together, or suffering together. Life has been so raw, exciting, and varied. The beautiful fruitfulness of our work has been so encouraging, gratifying, and energising.

Yet with total God-given peace we recognize our time is up. The educational needs of our children mean a new chapter is opening up. We’ll embrace some very different challenges in due course, but the main one is to seek to live lives of authentic, passionate, and costly worship of God in a very different context.

Anyway, I want to tell you why Great Lakes Outreach, as the title suggests, is GLO-ing from strength to strength.

Some stories you couldn’t make up:

In 2013, I approached an extraordinary pioneer and founder of one of our key partner organizations, Harvest Initiatives (or ‘Harvest for Christ’ as was), to sound him out as to whether he might consider taking over the baton of running GLO for me in due course. My vision and dream scenario was for a Burundian to run GLO, not another white man – one of my mantras has always been that a missionary’s job is to do himself out of a job. So I put it to Onesphore, and he seemed open to the idea – or so I thought. Actually though, it turns out he himself was looking to hand over Harvest, but, as he put it, “In my pride I wanted to start another organization. I was a pioneer leader, and didn’t want to work for anyone else. So I was flattered by Simon’s offer but was thinking I would decline it.”

Little could we have imagined how clearly God would speak to him!

The pastor of a small independent church decided to fast for forty days. His name was Joseph. Four of his five children had been radically transformed from intransigent rebels to dynamic leaders under Onesphore’s influence. So in gratitude, Joseph wanted to seek the Lord and use those forty days to fast and pray for Onesphore. At the end of his fasting, Joseph was so weak, but he summoned Onesphore. Without knowing that the latter was considering leaving Harvest, nor having ever heard of me, Joseph gave him the following message:

“The Lord is bringing you to a new season of change. You are going to leave your own organization. He has given you a twin called Simon, and you are going to work together to transform the nation!”

Whaaaaaaaat?!!!

How cool is that?!!!

Onesphore and his wife listened to the pastor and knew that it was God’s voice. Although he wanted to do his own thing, he submitted, and from the crisis in 2015 when it all kicked off in Burundi again, he has played a key role in leading GLO’s network and expanding it further, drawing in another dozen-or-so organisations. I can’t tell you some of the impacts we’ve had, because it’s just too sensitive to put out in the public domain, but suffice to say it’s been very strategic and significant, and Onesphore is clearly God’s chosen instrument to take GLO further than I could or would have.

Thank you Lord! More than my dream scenario…

So, how will it work? Onesphore is National Director of GLO, running everything inside Burundi; and I am International Director, spending my time supporting him at a distance, preaching, travelling, networking, fundraising, etc, all still with empowering and equipping the Burundian Church in mind.

If you felt connected with the Guillebaud family’s journey in Burundi, and were therefore considering stopping supporting GLO with our departure, can I urge you to keep on journeying with Onesphore and the beautiful network we have developed together by God’s grace? We need and want you more than ever! Are you in? I hope so!

Thanks so much for all your support thus far.

Here’s to GLO-ing from strength to strength together!

Simon Guillebaud

P.S. Before settling in the UK in August 2019, we will spend ten months from September as a family traveling in 33 countries. I can work remotely, and we will home/world-school the kids and have a crazy adventure together, with me preaching along the way and flying the Burundi flag.

Maybe I’ll get to catch you over the summer, here are my movements:

aaapreacher

Saturday 23rd June – Gitega International Academy Graduation

Sunday 24th June – Last preach and farewell at our church in Bujumbura, fly out in the evening

Monday 25th June – arrive back in the UK

Tuesday 26th June – Buckingham Palace to receive our MBE’s

Wednesday 27th June – Long Crendon Baptist Church

Friday 29th June – Sports day commentator at King’s school

Saturday 30th June – Chez Whites GLO supporters 10-3pm, Tring

Sunday1st July – Ivy Sharston in the morning, and then 7pm Saint Philips, Salford

Monday 2nd July – children do a trial day at Monkton Combe, Bath

Friday 6th July – GLO Trustees meeting followed by Harrow fundraiser

Sunday 8th July – Stopsley Baptist, Luton, in the morning

Monday 9th July – fly to Sligo, Ireland for New Wine

Tuesday 10th – Friday 13th July – 6 talks at New Wine

Saturday 14th July – Coleraine evening event

Sunday 15th July – Vineyard Church, Coleraine in the morning, Willowfield Belfast in the evening

Monday 16th July – Fly back to England

Tuesday 17th July – YWAM Harpenden

Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd July – Whites weekend

Saturday 21st July – Men’s breakfast, Flackwell Heath

Sunday 22nd July – King’s Church Chesham in the morning, St Mary’s Bryanston Square evening

Thursday 26th July – Filling Station, Christchurch

Saturday 28th July – HTB Home Focus seminar

Sunday 29th July – Highfields Church, Cardiff, morning and evening

Wednesday 1st August – New Wine seminar, Shepton Mallet

Thursday 2nd August – New Wine, Club One – Evening Celebration (younger youth 11-13s)

Sunday 5th August – St Andrew’s Oxford morning and evening

Monday 6th to Friday 10th August – Rekonnect camp for Zac, Grace, Josiah at Edale

Tuesday 7th August – New Wine seminar, Shepton Mallet

Wednesday 8th August – Thirst joint evening celebration with Club One (11-18s)

Sunday 12th August to Wednesday 22nd August – Family holiday in France at parents’ pad

Saturday 25th August to Saturday 1st September – Preaching week at Lee Abbey, Devon

Sunday 2nd September – Reading Family Church morning and evening

Wednesday 5th September – Boat to the continent and off on a 33-country-10-month-speaking-tour-home/world-
schooling-crazy-adventure!