Aaarrgh! I write this incensed and sad and seething. 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. September is the hardest month 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 are now back at 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 not to drop out of school? It’s so unfair.
So, my precious, beautiful, broken Burundi, I hate you at times. And at the risk of sounding blasphemous – and I’ve quoted this verse before – I hate a verse in Psalm 37 that simply doesn’t chime with my reality: “I was young and now I’m old, yet I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (v25). Really, King David? Maybe you needed to leave your plush palace and engage in the putrid pungency of your people’s poverty. God forgive me if my raising those thoughts is a sin. How I wrestle with these totally non-abstract issues that smack me in the face daily here…
So 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 or $25 would get one child back to school for this Monday morning for the coming year, £80 or $100 would get four children back to school. Could you help 1, 4, 10, 100?
Rachel’s words haunt me: “It’s often the children of parents in ministry who are the first to drop out.”
That is SO WRONG!
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Thanks for standing with me. Sorry for bombarding you with emails this week. After yesterday’s beautiful Grace story, here’s the unpleasant underbelly of the rollercoaster of following Jesus out here. Thank you for all you give already in prayer and support for our friends here.
Be very blessed today! Be a blessing today!