cyclists

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.
Blessings,
Tharcisse’

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.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
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!

kcc

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.

 

This is everything I love about what we are trying to do as GLO. It is utterly strategic in the nation; it models beautiful partnership across nationalities; it involves empowering and equipping leaders.

 

Meet one of our key partners, Antioch Africa, in this stunning short film, just 3mins+.

 

 

In years to come, I don’t doubt this will have a critically positive role in shaping a healthy Church in Burundi, and even beyond. Bring it on!

Window on the World

Of all the things we’ve read together as a family, none has been more interesting or effective at engaging with our kids as this book. It includes geography, history, stories, and faith. So I’d give it a massive recommendation. We did it over breakfast daily for several months, and they looked forward to it each time. Parents/grandparents, I can’t think of a better present for your kids/grandkids.

For UK folk, click here to order.

For US folk, click here.

Also, as we prepare for Christmas, and getting resources for Advent, Jotham’s Journey is superb story-telling. There are three of them in the series, they come highly-recommended too.

Happy reading together!

What do you know about Slovenia? I knew virtually nothing until we went there this last week. And yesterday I got to preach at the biggest evangelical church in the country, which you’re probably thinking is a few thousand people strong. But no, it was maybe 130 people, because there are only about 500 evangelicals in the whole country! Out of a population of a little over 2 million people, that makes just 0.025%!

I think part of this year’s purpose as we travel and preach around the world is highlighting areas of need. The week before we were in Albania, with under 3000 believers out of their population of just over 3 million, i.e 0.1%. Before that in Macedonia (0.2%), which I blogged on before.

The gospel needs are huge! Do you want to get involved? Could you come as a teacher to one of these nations? Or a medical professional? Or start a business? Or just come and see? Often people say comments like ‘there are plenty of needs here in this nation to meet, so you shouldn’t go elsewhere’. I beg to differ. The needs are indeed everywhere, but much much greater in these countries than in the UK or USA. So hear the invitation from me right now – could this be for you? Do you want to be part of something so much bigger than you might have expected in this life? Just ask, and I’ll put you in touch.

From yesterday’s journal: “I preached, and the response was strong. Afterwards lots of folks came up and thanked me effusively for the passion, challenge and encouragement. Grace (as we’ve tried to encourage the kids to pray and see if God shows them whom He might bless through us) said that she wanted us to give money to a man in a purple T-shirt. He looked fine to me i.e. humanly-speaking wasn’t a stand-out case as someone in need. We asked our translator if he was in a bad way and she said yes, that his wife was looking after him and the need was acute, so we gave money to be passed on to her. That was encouraging. And then I was talking to a man called Mattheus, who told me he couldn’t work because of a dislocated finger. I asked if I could pray for him. After prayer, his eyes lit up and he said he could now move it where he couldn’t before. Brilliant! Doors are wide open to return, there are big opportunities, and all the key folks asked us to come back and serve here. Who knows, but certainly the needs are massive.”

If you want to get my journal updates, just message me. If you’re challenged about how you might get involved in such countries, again, just get in touch and I’ll connect you.

Greetings from a small village just outside Shtip in Macedonia!

We’ve just had a stunning weekend of outreach alongside Brother Jimmy from Nigeria, who has been here 35 years and done incredible pioneering work during that time. Macedonia has 0.2% evangelical believers – that’s 2 out of every 1,000 people. The gospel needs are huge.

Over this last weekend, I got the chance to blast around the country and speak at seven of those churches, each in towns where there was no other Christian witness. We arrived, preached, said goodbye, drove another two hours, preached again etc. Apart from the fact that we were in a van, it felt like the apostle Paul must have felt, journeying around the country, sharing the good news with a sense of urgency. It was such an exciting privilege to be a part of.

An incredible two days of blasting around the whole country of Macedonia, speaking at seven churches (out of a total of only about 60 in the whole nation), such a fun and exhausting trip, but great opportunities to encourage the troops.

Posted by Simon Guillebaud on Sunday, 7 October 2018

As I said, the needs are simply huge. I found being with Jimmy’s gang such a challenge to the often complacent Western church. We met Sunday morning in the centre of the country at one church for teaching, and then four teams of eight people went North, South, East and West, fanning out across the nation and visiting the various plants. I did it yesterday and was exhausted by the end of it. They do it every single weekend! How does that compare to your church in terms of zeal for the Kingdom and willingness to get out there? Evangelism and discipleship were total priorities, and raising young leaders is at the heart of Jimmy’s approach.

He showed me a 4-storey building they want to buy, to use as a church, a conference venue, pastor accommodation, as an income-generator and more. The house has been unoccupied for years because apparently it is haunted and nobody wants to live there. The owner wanted 60,000Euros but has come down to 40,000Euros as there have been no takers. Jimmy’s not remotely afraid to take on any demons in that house and redeem it for God’s glory! It’ll be a strategic launch pad in their ongoing efforts throughout the nation into the future.

In Acts 16:9-10 we read: “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

Jimmy’s not begging us to come over to Macedonia to help. He’s just praying that God’s people will help him and his team crack on with the evangelization of this largely unreached nation. And this building is so strategic to make that happen. So does that touch anybody? Could you (or do you know anyone who could) help buy the building? Does your church want to get involved in mission in such a needy area with such a fruitful committed bunch of people? You would benefit so much. Do get in touch if so and I’ll connect you.

And might we rise to the challenge in our own contexts and get more focused and engaged in reaching out to the lost in an intentional and strategic way, with a sense of urgency for the lost. Truly this last weekend inspired, challenged, and rocked me. May reading this spur you likewise to action!

dover family

The above picture was taken on Day 1 of our world tour, as we set sail from England with the white cliffs of Dover in the background. Three weeks in, we still love each other(!), are in our 10th country, Romania, and have had some precious times. The only place I’m regularly posting is Instagram if you want to follow our movements: @simon.guillebaud

I’ve waited a few months to allow my thoughts to percolate after finishing twenty years of living in Burundi, and all that I learnt in that time. There were, of course, many lessons from living in a war zone that became peaceful and then again sadly fell back into conflict. But I’ve distilled them all down to three words, essentially, which formulate a life motto of sorts that we as a family are seeking to adopt and live by. So I’ll share it with you, and hopefully it might be of help. It involves coming back to familiar themes if you’ve journeyed with us a long time, but they have left deep marks in me. It reads:

‘Live Together Gratefully’

First of all, we want to really live. We want to embrace the adventure of living rather than settle for the safety of existing. Many people’s highest aspiration seems to be to arrive safely at death, and so we often avoid taking risks, stick to the status quo – however dissatisfactory it might be – and miss out on so much that could happen if only we stepped out in faith to live out our God-given dreams. Jesus’ promise in John 10:10 of ‘life to the full’ is to be claimed and appropriated. And following Him is not safe. But the safest place to be is in the heart of God’s will; and safety isn’t the absence of danger, it’s the presence of God. As a colleague once turned to me with a glint in his eye and said as we drove along roads fraught with danger: “Simon, isn’t it exciting? We’re immortal until God calls us home!”

Particularly from 1999 to 2003, I lived expecting to die. That appear to many to be a horrible experience to endure – but no, it was a great way to live. As I drove each weekend along deserted roads anticipating deadly ambushes, completely ready to die, I never felt more alive. Death is an emasculated enemy, it’s lost its sting. I could fully echo Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” One time forty people were killed, but we got through. Another time as I ate a Chinese takeaway, I heard three shots, and found out later my friend had been murdered. An awareness of the imminence of death is very helpful.

There was such focus, such intentionality, such joy. If you think you’re going to die next week, you’re not going to waste today. You’re not going to spend endless hours watching TV or gaming or on social media, because today will soon be yesterday, and there’s so much to actually live for, now. If you think you might die shortly, you’re going to tell everyone you care about how much you love and value them; you’re going to have a sense of urgency in sharing your hope in Christ with those who don’t yet know Him, because the stakes are high; you’re going to keep short accounts with everyone, saying sorry and asking for or offering forgiveness so that your life is in order just is case something happens; you’re going to prioritise how you spend your money, because stuff doesn’t matter, people do. You’re not going to take any possession with you, so you choose to get more excited about investing in what lasts. As C.S.Lewis wrote: “Anything which isn’t eternal is eternally out-of-date.”

I’m just desperate – for myself and my family – and I long for all of us, that we wouldn’t get to the end of our lives and be sat there in a recliner with a shriveled soul and loads of stuff, and think: “I just missed it, I played it safe…” That would be tragic.

If we decide to truly live, to go for it, to have no regrets, does anything need changing? Let’s do it!

Firstly ‘live’, secondly ‘together’.

Everything is relationship. That is one of my mantras. We need each other. I need you. You need me. Certainly we can do more, go further, and have more fun… together.

As the African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” One of the biggest tensions in my marriage is that I want to go too fast. Even this last week on the metro in Berlin, I lost Lizzie! I was walking so fast, and I thought she’d seen my turning, but she hadn’t. And I had to retrace my steps, track her down, and eat some humble pie! Speed is overrated. I’d really rather go far, and we do that together.

As I review the beautiful effectiveness of our work in Burundi, it largely hangs on the fact that we created such a strong team. We sought to identify the best local leaders of passion, integrity, gifting and vision for the transformation of the nation. There were lots of very gifted and driven individuals, but we became a dream team of complementary visions, leveraging our collective impact through synergies and interdependence. We sought to model partnership, cooperation, team-work. If you stand on my shoulders, then you can see further and do more. ‘We’ trumps ‘me’.

But crucially that takes time. You cannot develop trust overnight, particularly in our context of total distrust, small-mindedness and competition. So we started meeting regularly. They were my highlights, having an extended breakfast each third Tuesday of the month, being with such motivated high-caliber leaders. And slowly trust was built up, because everything is relationship. We did retreats with spouses included, so that everyone would be on the same page.

And the crisis of 2015 highlighted the beauty of our togetherness. With roadblocks burning and to the sound of gunfire around, we met up and had a holy moment – together – in which we counted the very real cost and danger of active engagement in the crisis. We delegated roles around the room, strategizing so that the country wouldn’t fall apart (You’re the most eloquent spokesman for non-violence, so let’s hire the national radio and TV station and preach peace; you’ve got the best inroads with the militia, so we’ll organize a meeting with the leaders for you to address them; your team is the best at social media, so we’ll support you to create a platform on Facebook and Whatsapp to counter all the destructive lies and rumours, etc). Egos were left behind. Thank God nobody was killed for it. But we were ready. Together. No other such network of intimate strategic relationships existed in the country, as far as any of us could see.

What does it look like in your context to live together? Because we all want to go far…

So firstly ‘live’, secondly ‘together’, and third and finally, ‘gratefully’.

The greatest gift Burundi gave me was the gift of gratitude.

A man called Aloise was trying to kill me. He came to my house with a grenade to blow me up. He wrote me a letter saying he was going to cut out my eyes. It wasn’t a fun experience, to be sure. Indeed I had a few nightmares and stayed at a friend’s house for a few days. But it was actually one of the best experiences of my life, and I’ll tell you why.

Faced with the threat of losing my eyes, I actually thanked God for the first time in my life for them. Consciously. Suddenly my eye-sight was correctly recognized as a gift, not as a right.

Have you ever thanked God that you can see? What a gift it is! Ask a blind person. And this led me on to the realization that everything in life is a gift. Our challenge as we live in entitlement cultures is that it’s all about our rights. Consequently, when we don’t get what we want, then it’s an affront to our divine right to happiness, health, etc. That’s why we complain so often and are not experiencing as much joy in life as we should. I’m speaking as an Englishman here: our national pastime is moaning! We moan about everything, whilst being amongst the most blessed people in the history of humanity.

My pastor’s 18-year-old brother died in his arms for the lack of $5 to pay for the medicine across the counter in the chemist’s. Let’s stop moaning about medical care. Burundi is the hungriest country in the world, with 56% malnourished. None of us has had to pray ‘Give us today our daily bread’ and really mean. Let’s be deeply grateful for food. We all have access to clean life-giving water in our homes without needing to walk miles with a jerry can on our heads to get some. What a gift! We can all read and write, we have sufficient clothing, we’re free to believe and express those beliefs, be they religious or political, what incredible gifts! Do you realize that these are gifts, and not rights? If so, you will live gratefully, and it will totally transform your life.

During the war, my friend Chrissie saw a man praying with an empty bowl in a refugee camp. She went over and sat next to him. “What’s your story, old man?” He told her how he had seen his wife and kids hacked to death, and his house burnt down. He was in his eighties and had walked six days to get to the camp. So now, in his stinking rags in front of her, that was all he was in the world, with his empty bowl. Yet at the end of recounting his horrific tale of woe, he turned to her and said: “Madame missionary, I never realized that Jesus was all I needed, until Jesus was all I had.”

Are you grateful? Gratitude will transform your life. It has transformed mine completely. Whenever I’m tempted to moan or feel sorry for myself, I just go through the gifts in my life: I can see, most of my body works pretty well, I am not starving, I have family and friends, a job, access to healthcare, freedom of expression, the list goes on.

Wow! Thank you Lord, because you are the Giver. Everything is a gift. Therefore I will live gratefully, which will make me a much more pleasant person to be around, because I’ll bring life and energy to the party rather than sucking it out of the room. Grateful people are joyful people, and joy (not the same as happiness) can defy our personal circumstances in a beautiful, attractive, and life-giving way.

So there you have it. Many lessons distilled into three words. The Guillebaud family motto – whether in Burundi or on a world tour or next year living back in the UK – is LIVE TOGETHER GRATEFULLY.

What might yours be? Let us know, we’d love to hear it!