And he did graduate with distinction! And he found a lovely woman to marry! And he’s now a Dad!
* I just came across this and realised we hadn’t posted it, having filmed it a couple of years ago. Still worth seeing! He’s still trying to set up a pharmacy, but maintaining his integrity in the process is challenging, so do pray for wisdom and breakthroughs there.
Have you seen that film or read that very moving story – Sophie’s Choice? A mother has to choose which of her two children to save.
I can’t imagine anything more heart-breaking, can you?
Yet, our teams in Burundi face choices like this every day. When I’m in Burundi, like I will be next week, I have to make decisions like this too. It’s a heavy responsibility to discern God’s will.
Who to help?
Now, thank God, we can literally double our choices, with some assistance from you, if you are willing and able?
One of our fantastic supporters has offered to DOUBLE any regular gifts made to GLO for the coming year.*Yes, really. But only for the coming year (any gifts taken out between now and October 2020), so now is the moment to act, if you can help us make the most of this amazing opportunity.
This means that if you give £10 (or $10) a month, they will give £10 (or $10) a month more, making your gift worth £20 a month. £20 a month will mean you unlock a further £20 a month, making a total gift £40 a month. And so on. Up to a massive £15,000 (or $19,400) extra a year. It will make such a difference to so many lives and communities, if we can unlock this funding.
So we can save twice as many lives, help twice as many children have an education, help twice as many pygmies access healthcare, train up twice as many future leaders, help twice as many families start a business to support themselves when there are no jobs… the list goes on.
Of course, it’s not about numbers, it’s about precious people and giving them what they need to turn their lives around.
People like Freddy, whose face melted in the fire, but who, with your support, was able to access specialist healthcare and is now happily married with a baby.
And Grace, who was discarded down a toilet as a baby but who, thanks to your support, has now qualified as a first-class journalist, and is using her gifts working for GLO and helping others in Burundi…
Or Innocent, who with your support was rescued as a street child and is now a national football hero, working to help other street children. So much can be achieved with very little…
Sometimes very little is all that’s needed in a place like Burundi. Like £3. One of the most haunting experiences of my life was when my best friend’s brother urgently needed medicine which you can buy over the counter in Burundi.
He didn’t have the money and so his brother died. £3 for a life… that is so wrong!
There are many brothers and sisters to save. Communities to reach. Peace to sow. Leaders to grow. One at a time…
Do please help if you can. If you’re already helping and praying, thank you!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your giving and all your prayers.
God bless you loads!
PS It may be that you already give but do so anonymously or by bank order and haven’t told us your name. If that’s you, thank you! Likewise, if you are unable to respond at this time, no problem AT ALL. Please do pray for us to be able to make the most of this amazing opportunity.
“Before I came to this school, I didn’t know I could have this dream… or any dream.”
This is simply beautiful. Can you imagine walking two hours each way to and from school, as well as fetching water, cooking, etc and being so grateful for the opportunity…?
So why don’t you sit down with a mug of tea/coffee with your kid, grandkid, neighbour’s kid, or just yourself,
and get some perspective and a renewed sense of gratitude and wonder through this lovely film of our partners, Harvest Initiatives. It gives such a vivid picture of a typical day in the life of a determined little dreamer in Burundi.
In the back of beyond, in what many might consider a ‘no-go’ area in Northern Burundi, nestles a special remote community. Here the Kingdom of God is quietly growing against the tragic backdrop of the trauma and bereavement of years of conflict.
Very, very few visitors venture here, but one young man’s prayers and tears of compassion for forgotten widows and orphans have led him to reach out with beautiful results.
God is very much with Bosco. He is one of the amazing network of dedicated and sacrificial leaders we work with in Burundi. Despite seeing his mother brutally murdered in the war when he was a young boy, he has grown up as a superbly well-adjusted young man, using his great skills to serve the most vulnerable in society. He started his organisation, J-Life Burundi (one of GLO’s partners), because he just couldn’t help crying when he heard about or met widows and orphans. And there are a lot of them in Burundi…
Thanks to the appointment of our own amazing Grace in Burundi to help with GLO communications, we are trying to get better at sharing the inspiring stories of transformation like this. We hope you enjoy them, and are encouraged and feel better informed for your prayers.
You may recall our resurrection rabbit appeal. Resurrection is a very apt word to describe the work of Bosco’s organisation. Thanks to his courage in venturing to help those whom no-one else was reaching out to, there is now hope as many lives are being reborn.
And that hope is tangible.
Thanks to your generosity, Theogene now has his rabbits. And goats. And chickens. So he can get by financially. And he even has his own house with his brother, Ernest. He can afford to attend school. In fact, he is a really smart lad, top of his class with 85% scores. His brother Ernest, a little older, has also been able to return to school, though he is in a class with much younger children. Ernest says:
“My dream is to own 10 chickens, so we can start to sell eggs and save up for a brighter future.”
It’s a joy to spend time with Ernest and Theogene who now live in their own home next to another orphan, Fabrice. Challenges abound in the beautiful and fertile landscape, yet they seem to exude joy despite their lack of material comforts which Westerners would consider essential.
“The animals teach them responsibility and self-reliance,” says Bosco.“We are committed to supporting them until university, teaching the Word of God and helping them grow spiritually through the J-Life community centre in Ciya.”
Sixty widows in the community have joined together to create a soap manufacturing cooperative in their new training centre. They sell soap to nearby cafes and businesses. The soap is handmade from plentiful local palm oil. There is no packaging and very little waste, so as well as generating income for the ladies, this business ticks the increasingly important sustainability boxes.
Please pray for the community of Ciya:
Praise God for the new soap business and pray for it to grow to provide an abundant income for the widows
For the widows and orphans who still need their own homes
For the skills training initiatives – computing, sewing, literacy and numeracy
For emotional and spiritual healing from the war
For Ernest, Theogene and Fabrice
Give thanks for the new training centre and all those serving in the work
Our massive summer outreach is always fiercely contested and hugely fruitful. This (the 14th) year was no exception. Some of the teams faced real opposition, and needed breakthroughs to operate at all.
In any case, I’m pleased to be able to feedback to you that 700 people went out in 35 areas for 2 weeks, and they saw 8,900 choose to start following Jesus, with several dozen dramatic miracles taking place.
Stories are still coming in, but the below are what I received yesterday, which I wanted to share with you – to encourage and stir your own faith, and to thank you for standing with us in prayer. Here goes with a selection:
Pascasie’s arm had been crippled for 26 years. Our team went door-to-door in Gihosha, and she responded in faith to their message. They prayed for her arm, and she was promptly healed!
Hated and feared, Patrick was a known serial burglar in Songa. A mystery illness then struck him down, which included paralysis of the neck and feet problems. He was house-bound for three months and the community were just waiting for him to die. That’s when our team showed up, told him about the love of Jesus and hope in Him. They returned a second time, and when they prayed for him, he was healed. From then on he accompanied the outreach team, testifying to his healing miracle, and asking forgiveness of everyone he’d burgled or done wrong to. Many others responded when they saw this ‘new man’ and heard his story first-hand.
In Gitega, a husband beat up his wife and sent her away once and for all, keeping the four children. The next day, in God’s providence, our teams visited both him at his home, and her 6kms away where she’d gone. He was convicted of his wrong behaviour, and hurried off by foot to seek her out. When he arrived, he saw her being prayed for, and burst into spontaneous praise. Both of them repented, became followers of Jesus, burned their fetishes, and are now involved in their local church as a reunited family with no more violence in the home.
Bugagi had the reputation as a place of despair, alcoholism and witchcraft. Last year, our team went there with no apparent fruit. A witchdoctor did visit with them, saying he was happy to add Jesus to his other fetishes, but they insisted he’d need to burn all his charms and pledge sole allegiance to Christ. His house, including all his fetishes, then burnt down. He was frightened, and returned to them, saying that as he hadn’t been prepared to deal with it, God had burnt his house down! He and three other families joined the local church. This year the team returned to find a transformed Bugagi, with new hope in the air, and with another 17 families deciding to follow Jesus.
Adelin from Kayanza was demon-posessed, and used to bark like a dog at night-time. His wife and children were naturally scared stiff, and tried various witchdoctors to find a cure for his affliction. Our team visited the family, prayed for him, and he asked if he could stay the night with them. That first night together, he began howling like a crazed hound. He was delivered as they prayed for him, and now the family is all at peace as they witnessed God’s power and surrendered their lives to Christ.
That’ll do. Amazing! Beautiful! And we look forward to doing it again for the 15th year in a row in 2020. Pray for peace as it’ll be election season, and last time around saw the nation plunge into crisis. Please Lord, may these coming months lead up to peaceful, free and fair elections indeed…
God bless you all,
PS Looking ahead, for your information: we sent out 700 people this year, and turned another 200+ down because of financial limitations. We spent $20,000 on the outreach, to see 8,900 people come to Jesus, as well as other fruit, so it’s money incredibly well spent! But it could have been even more fruitful with another 200 sets of boots on the ground. So if you wanted to sow into this venture to see so much more remarkable fruit, do click here to contribute. Thanks!
TED/MAP talk in North Carolina at New Wineskins Conference
Hello, my name is
Simon Guillebaud. I’ve recently completed 20 years working in Burundi, a
conflict zone in Central Africa, and one of the most beautiful but broken
countries on the planet. That’ll do on introduction, time is short. This
TED/MAP talk is just 15 minutes to share my top ten lessons from two decades of
cross-cultural work – isn’t that an impossible task? I’ll try.
So I’m picturing
Paul in his cell in Rome, and he’s about to be led away to have his head
chopped off (he probably died that way). He’s been told he’s got 15 minutes with
one person of his choice, and he’s chosen a passionate young mentee (let’s call
him/her) Jo – that’s you – and he’s downloading the most important life-lessons
from his adventures he can think of. He’s got to be quick, they’re coming soon.
He’s talking fast, and so am I. Are you ready? Write this down, Jo!
Here are my ten top life-lessons from two decades of working in Burundi:
It’s all about…
1) …grace – A young lady recently started working for our charity, Great Lakes Outreach, in Burundi. She was found down a toilet where her mother dumped her after giving birth. Someone saw this discarded piece of flesh in the filth, reached down, and picked her up. They cleaned her off and got poo on themselves in the process. She was still alive, was fed through a straw like a little bird, weighing just a few pounds. My friend who adopted her gave her the most beautiful girl’s name. When I married my wife Lizzie, I said to her that if ever we were blessed to have a daughter, I’d like to name her after that girl. So they share the same name. Grace!
The start of her life is a picture of the gospel, our message, the bedrock of our lives – it doesn’t matter whether we’re multi-murdering, raping, pillaging idiots in Central Africa or self-absorbed people in America (UK, wherever), all of us need God’s grace. And He in Christ reaches down from heaven to earth, bridges the chasm, picks us up, cleans us off, takes our filth on Him, and says to you and to me: “You’re my beautiful child. I love you this much (arms stretched out wide on the cross), now come, live for me!” That’s grace, and that’s our message. You can’t earn it, you just live in response to it. May that underpin everything we do. It’s all about grace, so let’s live grace-fully.
2) …gratitude – This is linked to grace, but building further on it. I had a man come to my house with a grenade to blow me up. He’d written me a letter saying he was going to cut out my eyes. Was that a fun experience? No, but it was one of the most defining experiences of my life. Let me tell you why:
Faced with the imminent prospect of losing these two little things (my eyes), let alone my life, I was consciously grateful for the first time for the gift of eyesight – which is a gift, not a right. Your challenge is that you live in an entitled culture and we are an entitled generation. It’s all about our rights. The best gift Burundi has given me is the gift of gratitude. Nothing is a right, everything is a gift. Food, health, education, security, friends, family, clean water, the list goes on. When I’m tempted to be self-pitying or thinking I’ve had a hard lot in life, I list off all those gifts. It’s a game-changer! Stop complaining. Don’t take anything for granted. Be grateful. Grateful people make happy people. You’ll be nicer to live alongside and therefore more effective in your work.
3) …humility – We usually think our culture is the best. We are so wrong! There is so much wrong with our greedy, individualistic, consumerist (I could go on) respective Western cultures. There is so much richness in our host cultures, because every culture has good and bad in it. Dig for the gems. Learn the language, the proverbs, the stories. Listen, listen, listen! Don’t criticize. For example, the African says to the American/Brit/etc: “You have watches, we have time!” They might just be late for your meeting because someone was dying on the side of the road as they came to meet you. How dare I arrogantly reproach them for their lateness, their ‘African time’, when they did ‘the Good Samaritan’ whilst I would have walked on by to honour my punctuality proudly whilst leaving someone to die…? Seriously? People are more important than schedules, aren’t they? Humility, humility, humility.
4) …relationship – One of my life mantras is ‘Everything is about relationship’. You can’t microwave or fast-track friendship and trust. Spend time with people. An African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
2015, Burundi teetered on the edge of total implosion. It’s too politically
sensitive to go into details, but we had the holiest meeting of my life with
our key leaders. Were we willing to stand up and preach non-violence, forgiveness,
and dialogue, when the Church at large had completely gone to ground in fear?
Yes, on somber reflection, we were. But how could we do that and be effective?
Because the context of our relationships was that we had been meeting monthly
for breakfast for five years together, so we loved and trusted each other.
Honestly, it was amazing. We counted the cost. Thankfully nobody died in our
team, but we were ready.
It’s all about relationship, so live connected, invest the time, be patient, seek out and embrace genuine accountability with key folk, and you’ll go far together
5) …people – People, not stuff. Please care more for the folks you aim to come alongside than for your possessions. Live more simply. People, not stuff, and then people, not pets. The biggest criticism of missionaries has often been that they show more love for their pets than the people around them.
Maybe I’ll say more on this in the Q&A, but as far as you can, seek to work alongside the best local leaders of passion, integrity, gifting and vision. Our job is to encourage, equip, release. If you back a person of average passion/integrity/gifting/vision, the ceiling is set at mediocrity. Our work was so stunningly fruitful because I had the advantage of living in country and patiently observing and praying, so we were able to identify the best of the best, which meant the sky was the limit in terms of fruitfulness. I’ve lots more to say on that but time is ticking.
6) …patience – Rome wasn’t built in a day. When God wants to make a delicate mushroom, he does it overnight; but when he wants to make an sturdy oak, he takes decades. We want long-term fruit. Don’t over-estimate what you can do in one year, but don’t underestimate what you can do in ten. I look back and am blown away at what we’ve been able to do by God’s grace. But in any given one-year time-frame, I might have felt discouraged and overwhelmed, and not seen much obvious progress. Short-term missions have their place, but let’s be realistic on what can be accomplished in anything less than chunkier time-frames.
7) …now! Yes, it’s all about patience, but it’s also all about now! We want to live urgently. ‘Now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.’ I once preached about living ready, being all in, people need saving and rescuing, etc, and two days later, those listeners were killed in a big rebel attack. Our message and mission is urgent. Live like you believe it’s true. Don’t waste time. You’ve got 1,440 minutes today that you’ll never get back again, so use them well. Be focused. Is this activity good use of my time? As C.S.Lewis said: “Anything which isn’t eternal is eternally out of date.”
8) …rhythm – Yes we should live urgently, but we have to work from a place of rest. Work hard and play hard. Don’t try to ‘go faster than grace allows’ (Brother Lawrence). Put first things first, which means being a worshipper before being a worker. Guard the secret place. Seriously. Be very accountable with somebody on this point. Cultivate intimacy with God through meditation, Scripture, prayer, etc, it’s an absolute priority if you want to be built to last. How are you doing on that one?
9) …the Kingdom – Kingdom capital K, or Church capital C. You’ve got your little patch. But remember the picture is so much bigger. Be part of the bigger whole. It’s not a competition. Help others around you. It’s not win/lose or lose/win. Go for win/wins. Their big slice of cake doesn’t mean my slice therefore has to be small. Let’s bake a bigger cake together! I fundamentally believe as you try to help others, God’s grace boomerangs back and smacks you hard in the face!
10) …faith – Choose faith, not fear. There’s lots to make us afraid. But no. Driving along one of the most dangerous roads in the world, my colleague leant across one day, and said to me with a glint in his eye: “Simon, isn’t it exciting, we’re immortal until God calls us home!” He’s right! Perfect love casts our fear. This life won’t last for ever, it’s not our home or end destination. My marriage proposal to Lizzie was: “Are you ready to be a young widow?” That was tested in the 2015 crisis, by this stage with three kids in tow. Fear said leave, but faith said stay, which links in with my next point…
11) …staying – Many years ago, I was on a short-term mission trip to Sao Paolo in Brazil. We went to work with street-children, who were in ample supply – the plan was to rescue 7 million in 3 weeks – I say that somewhat tongue in cheek because having the right expectations is very important. We went to the main square, and I’ve been in much more dangerous situations in Burundi many times over, but this was the most traumatic incident I’ve ever experienced. Fear often comes through not understanding the dynamics at play.
we were mugged by a gang of street-children. These weren’t cute little urchins
but damaged and dangerous little thieves who survived through knifing people,
stealing, etc. One of them about 10-years-old came over to our 6ft4in team
leader, cursing and spitting. He pointed at him angrily and spoke with venom
and hatred: “You may be big, you may be strong, but there’s only one of you!”
And then they attacked us, throwing glass bottles at us, which shattered on the
floor around us as we fled and sought police protection.
night, we processed the experience in the safety of the compound, sat around in
a group. I simply wept. I wept that we’d met just a handful of the seven
million screwed-up precious little street-children of Brazil. As I cried, the
team leader gently came alongside me, put his arm around my shoulder, and said
something that has left an indelible mark on me for the rest of my life. In
fact, it might have been the one thing I’d traveled all the way to Brazil to
learn: “Pity cries, and then goes away… but
compassion stays!” That rocked me. I returned a different person, resolved
to never walk away.
Jesus chose to ‘stay’, and so must we, to be authentic and consistent with His call on our lives, engaging with people’s pain. But ouch, it can hurt. It can be geographical, but ‘staying’ is more a heart attitude. It’s tempting in the face of so much @£$% that life throws up and all the overwhelming needs we get confronted with, to harden our heart, but no, we insist on staying soft. As Jackie Pullinger said: “God wants us to have soft hearts and hard feet. The trouble with so many of us is that we have hard hearts and soft feet.” Stay soft-hearted, hard-footed. Choose to stay.
12) …communication – It’s not what you say, but what they hear, and therefore understand. Can you hear the difference between gusura and gusura? No you can’t. One means to visit, the other means to fart. Tonal languages are subtle. I want to make sure I’m visiting the government minister and not farting on him!
friend Vicky’s flashlight broke, so she asked the hospital guard to walk her
home, except the word ‘walk’ and ‘have an affair’ are virtually identical in
Malagasy. He took her home thinking he’d struck the jackpot, and she had a
One US lady was sharing her testimony in Francophone
Africa. She wanted to say in French that her
past was divided into two parts. Instead of ‘passé’ she said ‘derrière’ (behind,
backside). She went on to say that one part of her butt was black, one part was
white, and between the two there was a great chasm!
are both funny and serious examples, but suffice to say, so many problems come
through so many layers of complexity across cultures. Misunderstandings are
easy, so tread carefully. Communicate clearly. Choose the right means of
communicate. Get folks to state back to you what their understanding is. Two
ears, one mouth, listen listen listen! And don’t listen to just one side of any
story, it’s never the full picture.
And remember, it’s all aboutgrace, gratitude, humility, relationship, people, patience, now, rhythm, the Kingdom, faith, staying, communication. And there could have been more said on each point or even further points, but that’ll have to do.
for farting with me, I’ve enjoyed your visit! Go for plenty of walks, avoid
having affairs. And may your derriere’s testimony be powerful, leading to many
more seriously, thanks for listening to my talk, which wasn’t quite 15 minutes,
or even 10 points as I’d agreed, but that was an unrealistic expectation from
an African – and I am indeed a proud African, a Burundian, one of about a dozen
white Burundians in the world!
if I’m Paul, and you’re Jo, well I can hear the guards’ jangling their keys at
the cell door. I’m off to my graduation to glory. Whether it’s by
head-chopping, hanging, or feeding to the lions, ‘for me to live is Christ, to
die is gain!’ What a privilege! I’ll see you on the other side in due course.
Be assured, the call on your life to serve wherever in the world is absolutely
worth everything you’ve got. Yes, you’ll definitely receive plenty of sucker
punches along the way, but hang in there. It’s totally worth it. I say this,
and I know our heavenly Father says it, “I believe you’ve got what it takes to
be who He’s called you to be! Get out there, and change the world, one person
at a time!”
Just a few weeks ago, 1200 parents in Burundi were wondering where the money would come from to get their children back to school. Thanks to your generosity and swift response, we’ve been able to help keep around 3600 children in education for the coming year. Thank you SO much!
We distributed £30/$40 to each family, which, for many, has made all the difference between keeping the children in education, going into debt or losing their place(s) at school.
One parent, Odette, sums up the gratitude of so many: ”We are so grateful for the help. Books have become so expensive. One textbook can cost over 10,000FBU and that’s just for one child excluding uniforms, school supplies and other textbooks. Thank you and may God continue to use you to bless so many others.”
Another, Ephraim, talks about narrowly avoiding having to take out a loan to pay for education. He says: “Preparing for the new year is such a stressful time of time of the year for us. One begins to wonder about going into debt just to make sure you’re child’s spot isn’t taken.Thank you so much for your gift. It has really helped my family.”
One of children says, “I’m especially thankful for my textbook since English is favourite subject.”
But the children’s smiles say it all… THANK YOU!!!
Below are some juicy quotes that I used which are worth cogitating over:
“When God forgives, He forgets. He buries our sins in the sea and puts a sign on the shore saying, ‘No Fishing Allowed’.” (Corrie ten Boom)
During the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in South Africa in the days immediately after the ending of apartheid, there was a hearing involving a policeman named van de Broek. He recounted an incident when he and other officers shot an eighteen-year-old boy and burned the body, turning it on the fire like a piece of barbecue meat in order to destroy the evidence. Eight years later van de Broek returned to the same house and seized the boy’s father. The wife was forced to watch as policemen bound her husband on a woodpile, poured gasoline over his body, and ignited it. The courtroom grew hushed as the elderly woman who had lost first her son and then her husband was given a chance to respond. “What do you want from Mr. van de Broek?” the judge asked.
She said she wanted van de Broek to go to the place where they burned her husband’s body and gather up the dust so she could give him a decent burial. His head down, the policeman nodded agreement.
Then she added a further request, “Mr. van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him. And I would like Mr. van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God, and that I forgive him too. I would like to embrace him so he can know my forgiveness is real.”
Spontaneously, some in the courtroom began singing “Amazing Grace” as the elderly woman made her way to the witness stand, but van de Broek did not hear the hymn. He had fainted, overwhelmed.
I was driving along one of the most dangerous roads in the world with my team. Many had been killed in ambushes on it. Yet we talked away cheerfully, having total assurance that our mission was worth the risk. Next to me in the front seat, Etienne looked across and said: “Simon, isn’t it exciting? We’re immortal until God calls us home!”
This is the 3rd talk in the ‘One Thing’ series I gave recently at Lee Abbey.
In 1910, William Borden went to Yale University as an undergraduate and afterwards became a missionary candidate planning to work in China. When he made his decision to invest his life in this service, many of his friends thought him foolish. He had come from a good family. He had wealth and influence. “Why are you going to throw away your life in some foreign country,” they asked, “when you can have such an enjoyable and worthwhile life here?” But William Borden of Yale had heard the call of God. While in Egypt, on the way to China and even before he had much of a chance to do anything, he contracted cerebral meningitis. Soon it was evident to everyone, including himself, that he would die. At this point, Borden could have said to himself, “What a waste. My friends were right. I could have stayed in New Haven.” But Borden did not think this way. As he lay on his deathbed in Egypt in 1913, he scribbled a farewell note to his friends that were in some sense his epitaph. The note said, “No reserve, no retreat, and no regrets.”
Below is the second talk in the series at Lee Abbey from a few weeks ago entitled ‘One Thing’: