This is an interview I just did with Wes Poirot. Some interviews are a bit of a waste of time, but his questions were brilliant and I do think this is worth a listen. Here goes:

And If you’ve got teenage kids (we watch his daily short video as a family over breakfast), why don’t you subscribe and get a daily discipleship shot in the arm together, we’ve loved it. Subscribe here.

William Booth’s last speech to the Salvation Army ended with this: “While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight. While little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight. While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight. While there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end!”

Greetings!

The above and below are a few of the stories I shared in this talk from the New Wine National Leaders Convention, just before lockdown kicked in. Seems like a long time ago now. There’s lots of juicy material in there, worth a listen!

Amy Carmichael was someone who knew the meaning of suffering, and yet continued in sacrificial service, for many years rescuing young girls from temple prostitution in Hindu temples in India. She spent her last two decades mostly bed-ridden, using the time to write at least 35 books of meditations and reflections. When she died, in accordance with her wishes, no headstone was erected. Instead, the thousands of girls she had rescued placed a bird bath over her grave, inscribed with the word Amma which means ‘Mother’ in Tamil.

This is the poem she wrote about the suffering involved in being obedient to the gospel call.

Have you no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear you sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail your bright, ascendant star.
Have you no scar?
Have you no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Have you no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But yours are whole; can he have followed far
Who has no wound or scar?

She said: “We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don’t wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has.”

A certain mission society in South Africa once wrote to David Livingstone, “Have you found a good road to where you are?  If so, we want to send other men to join you.”

Livingstone replied, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them.”

He later wrote in his journal on one occasion concerning his “selfless” life:

“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa.  Can that be called a sacrifice, which is simply paying back a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?  Is that a sacrifice, which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind and a bright hope of glorious destiny hereafter?  Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought!  It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege.”

My life motto is John 10:10 where Jesus says: “I have come that you might have life, and life to the full.”

This talk on the Adventure of Calling was given a few months ago in North Carolina. It definitely applies to all of us, and is worth a listen. Below I’ll paste a few quotes that I included:

If you want the adventure of calling, you have to COME:

Claim God’s promises
Obey God’s instructions
Maintain faith in God’s leading
Embrace risks for God’s glory


“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.” Thomas Merton

Two Cornell psychologists (Gilovic and Medvec) did lots of research, found time key factor in regrets. Tend to regret our actions in short term, but long term regret inactions. Study found that in an average week, action regrets slightly greater than inaction regrets – 53% to 47%. But people looking back at end of lives, inaction 84% to action 16%. So end of lives we may have made a few mistakes but our biggest regrets will be risks we didn’t take. Anticipating future regret, Mark Twain warns us, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Oswald: “If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, “Come,” then He will continue to say, “Come,” through you. You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come,” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus. Have I come to Him? Will I come now?”

Hands raised in prayer for Burundi

How long do you think you could hold your arms out wide for? That’s what I tried to do yesterday for the first time. Why not give it a go?! I managed so much longer than I thought possible, imagining that every extra cramping second signified more lives saved, which actually was the case with Moses in Exodus 17 (I’ll tell you how long I managed at the end).

Whilst the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership defended themselves against an Amalekite attack down in the valley, Moses was up the top of a hill with Aaron and Hur. Verse 11 says: “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.” 

How desperate are you for breakthrough in your life? 

One of the most impacting things I’ve ever heard was this question and answer: 

Q: How much do you want of God?
A: Because no-one has less of God than they want. 

The stakes could hardly be any higher right now. I am absolutely desperate for Burundi breakthroughs, and I want God sooooo much. 

In the shadow of COVID-19, there are four days of campaigning left, and then the elections will take place next Wednesday. There has been some bloodshed, and things are hotting up. I don’t want to say more here, but read between the lines, and please pray. 

So here’s a short clip that my son filmed of me as I collapsed at the end of my Moses challenge yesterday. My sore muscles are still screaming at me now. I look a bit of a fool, but I know whose fool I am! And everybody’s somebody’s fool…

And then remember the rest of the story with Moses: “When his hands grew tired, Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. They held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady until sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army…” (v12,13)

We do this together! That’s the power of intercession. Can you please help us keep our hands held up in desperation to the Lord through next Wednesday, and beyond? 

Are you desperate for anything? What? How desperate? Give it a go… 

Lifting up holy hands, 

Simon

Join us on Zoom for inspiring weekly updates live with Burundian friends on www.greatlakesoutreach.org/saturdays at 2pm (UK time)

PS I managed 31 minutes 30 seconds. Just give it your best, and let me know how you got on!

A vicar was too busy to help a desperate homeless lady needing help. He fobbed her off with a promise to pray for her. She wrote the following poem and gave it to a local Shelter officer:

I was hungry,
And you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.
I was imprisoned,
And you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked,
And in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick,
And you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless,
And you preached a sermon on the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely,
And you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy, so close to God
But I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.

We sympathise with the vicar. The challenge is, we are all so very busy. Is it the right kind of busyness…? Have you had a similar experience? 

Greetings folks! 

The above and below are some of the notes from the questions I wrote up for discussion in home-groups this week, having shared the message yesterday at my local church, Holy Trinity Combe Down.

A little fellow in the ghetto was teased by one of the older street kids who said, “If God loves you, why doesn’t he take care of you?  Why doesn’t God tell someone to bring you shoes and a warm coat and better food?” The little lad thought for a moment then with tears starting in his eyes, said, “I guess He does tell somebody, but somebody forgets…” 

Let’s not be that person who forgets…

“I was talking to a friend who runs a national youth ministry. He told me about the Scouts in this country. They have a waiting list of over 50,000 kids, which puts paid to the lie that kids don’t want to go to a youth group. Many really do want to. They simply can’t. Why? Because there aren’t enough adults volunteering anymore. Where are they? They’re at home in their living rooms bowing down at the altar of Netflix (or Amazon Prime, etc).”

Discuss.

How would you answer the question: What did you do during lockdown? And, what did you learn during lockdown? And what new habits would you like to take out of lockdown moving forwards?

Evening options instead of just vegging in front of the TV watching lame programs (still on the TV though!):

8 sessions of the Prayer Course, free online:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO1WIawSAkQ

The Alpha Course videos have likewise been posted for free, I’ve loved doing a refresher, high quality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBMMD5C0k-s&t=521s

Or how about Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, we really enjoyed this:

Do sign up for praying for Muslims during Ramadhan – prayercast.com They send you a daily 4-min beautiful prayer video.

Ed Walker’s book A House Built on Love is well worth reading. Could any life-group get excited about coming alongside ex-cons/sexually-trafficked ladies/those wrestling with addictions etc in the context of buying a house and loving these precious wounded people to life? Hope into Action have seen stunning fruit, and as a full-on Christian organisation have repeatedly won secular industry awards for their approach. The social capital and potential of the Church is unparalleled in addressing such needs.

In Rocky 3, there’s a scene where he’s going soft, getting cultured. He’s achieved boxing fame, and he loses his fighting fire. Manager Mickey says to him: “The worst thing happened that could happen to any fighter – you got civilized.” I wonder if that is exactly what Jesus would say to us. You got civilized…

Have you been ‘civilised’? Is it wrong to be ‘civilised’? What is the point Simon was making? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

A few years ago, Fenn Chapman, a 16-year-old from Rugby School, flogged some techy gear to raise some money, and then flew to the Bahamas during term-time. Reporters got wind of it and knew it would make a good story. One of them eventually tracked him down on the beach and asked Fenn why he did it. Fenn replied: “I started thinking about the rest of my life: university, a job, buying a car, getting married, a mortgage, and then dying. I thought there had to be something more to life than this. So I had to get away for a while and think things through.”

That’s a question worth asking…

This is a short talk I was asked to do for a network of schools for their chapel/assembly. I tell two quick stories and then ask three questions. 

You can download the mp4 video here. This will take you to a Vimeo page. Click the Download button and choose the HD 720p version if you plan to show it using Zoom etc.

It’s very short. I’d love it to be used in dozens/hundreds of schools, so do pass it to any school teacher/connection who think might use it – teachers are crying out for resources during lockdown right now, for Religious Education classes, assemblies, etc.

Have a great day, grace and peace to you!

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!

Greetings to you all in lockdown (or not) wherever in the world.

This is a talk I gave at a missions conference in North Carolina called New Wineskins (https://newwineskins.org) a few months ago.

Grace and peace to you,

Simon

I’ve been reflecting on the events of 2015 in Burundi as we’ve re-entered a very different type of lockdown with COVID-19.

In 2015, it was election violence which led to our spending time hunkered down at home, rather than today’s threat of an invisible virus. We were not told to stay at home, but common sense dictated when it would be foolish to go outside. Youths put rocks fifty yards up our road to stop any vehicles passing. Another 200 yards away at the main intersection, trees were felled, and a barricade was set on fire.

Those seeking regime change wanted to stop all business. They wanted the country to grind to a halt to force change. I could walk out and chat to them. It was often peaceable. But there was sporadic shooting. Youths manned these barricades, but would disperse when trucks of policemen arrived and dismantled the former’s attempts at paralysing all road traffic.

Within a week of the crisis, all our key leaders met together and had the holiest meeting of my life. We went around the table, with the sound of gunfire and in sight of a burning roadblock, and counted the cost of active engagement in the crisis. For context, we remembered how after the genocide of 1993, someone wrote a tract entitled ‘Abantu b’Imana bagiye he?’ – ‘Where did the people of God go?’ Essentially in 1993, the Church hunkered down in fear, and failed in Her mandate to stand courageously against the onslaught and violence. Would such a tract be re-written in 2015? Not on our watch! It’s a whole other story, but we set up an informal network called Christian Initiatives for Peace, and got stuck in at every level in terms of engaging in the process and minimising bloodshed. Many stories can’t be retold because of their sensitivity, but it was a privilege to be a part of it, and it is still ongoing.

Amongst friends we had created a Facebook group to warn each other of where the demonstrators were marching, or fleeing from a surge of policemen with their truncheons and guns. “They’re heading up towards King’s School, away from Kibenga!” “They’ll be outside your house in a few minutes!”

They were strange times. There was an intoxicating mix of fear and hope in the air, depending on who you supported. On different days, the pendulum swung on who looked more likely to ‘win’, although what a ‘win’ would look like for whoever was hard to predict.

On one occasion I came across a dead man in the road, with lots of people walking past nonchalantly. But it wasn’t safe to hang around.

It went on for several months. Life has to go on.

Lizzie left our house one afternoon by car with the kids. At the end of our street, a man started removing the rocks blocking the road to let her go through. Another man came and smashed him in the face, and put the rocks back. Lizzie had to make a judgment call as to whether he’d do the same to her. She reasoned not. So she got out of the car, flexed her muscles like a superhero in front of the kids to diffuse their fear and try to make light of it, and removed the rocks. She drove through and no harm came of them.

A few days later, our kids were at a friend’s house. She heard a commotion on the street outside, and went to investigate. Demonstrating youths were running in panic past her house up the road, as a wave of policemen chased after them. Four sisters were lagging behind. She beckoned them in, and the first two made it easily. The third was grabbed by her T-shirt and had it yanked off, but made it in. The last one was too late, and was led away. Shots were fired on the street and our friend was told to open the gate, but she refused. These young women were screaming in panic and fear at the fate of their little sister as they interrupted our kids who were playing a board game with their friends in the relative sanctuary of the living room.

As the situation deteriorated, of course on one level I wanted to get the family out of the country. In particular, I didn’t want to risk the children experiencing anything that would cause long-term trauma (or worse). But I also knew as one of the ‘old guard’ that if we left, others would probably follow suit. We’re called to choose faith over fear, so our choice was to stay.

Then Josiah, who was five at the time, swallowed some popcorn awkwardly. He choked, and immediately his breathing became restricted and husky. We drove him past the barricades to an American paediatrician, who quickly made a diagnosis and said he needed a bronchoscopy to remove the kernel from Josiah’s lung – this couldn’t be performed in-country. So Lizzie and the kids took the next available outbound flight three days later. She had time to pack things up, the kids said their goodbyes to their buddies, and off they all went, much to my relief.

Thousands of people around the world were praying for Josiah at this point. Once back in the UK, ten days after he’d swallowed the popcorn kernel into his lung and the day before the invasive operation, he coughed and spluttered and out it came! The operation was no longer needed. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH, LORD!

An attempted coup failed. Things got a lot worse, and many people suffered terribly. I remember sitting in a café, losing my battle to hold back the tears, knowing that millions of lives in the nation were being negatively affected and that the fallout and damage would last for years. Most people were truly frightened, and legitimately so. Their future was utterly uncertain.

The economy was decimated. About half the national budget was foreign aid, and almost all of it was pulled by the international community as they sought to pressurise the regime into standing down. Can you imagine our GDP being halved overnight? It beggars belief. And the outworking was very close to home. For example, our conference centre had 53 employees, and we’d had to let go 30 of them immediately. That wasn’t a number to me, it was friends who had wives/husbands and children to feed. What would happen to them now? I wept. Beautifully, even though they were totally strapped for cash due to crippling rises in food prices, the remaining staff members clubbed together and decided to tithe their money to create a fund for those who had lost their jobs.

Heroic. Sacrificial. Resilient.

I was praying with some Burundian brothers, and one of them prayed: “Thank you Lord that all our hope is gone.” I was thinking what a crazy prayer that was, but then he carried on: “We have nothing left now but you.”

Reminiscences over, now to today.

As I write, there have been just a few cases of coronavirus officially acknowledged, but public meetings, league football matches and packed church services are still taking place. It’s difficult to know what approach would be best for Burundi. Today’s article in the Telegraph highlights some of the issues. Social-distancing measures as recommended in the West simply cannot work in the same way in what is one of (if not) the most densely-populated countries in Africa. And you cannot force people to stay at home when they will only eat based on what they earn today, which is the case for many folks. There have been some alarming food price increases, which is a matter of life and death in itself. Talking to folks on the ground, some people are thinking everything is fine, whilst others are extremely frightened.

The elections are due to take place on 20th May, and everything will be done to make sure they go ahead as planned. Election cycles are often accompanied by spikes in violence, but the State has no doubt learned lessons from 2015 and won’t allow similar events to happen. In any case, the opposition is very splintered and weakened.

I’m not going to say more on the political situation, but there is much to pray into:

  • May COVID-19 not spread and devastate the nation.
  • May the Government have wisdom in managing the crisis.
  • May food prices not further sky-rocket for what is already the hungriest nation in the world.
  • May bloodshed be avoided in the upcoming elections.
  • May the elections be truly free and fair, without intimidation.
  • May it be a new dawn for Burundi, against all odds.

And how might those reminiscences speak into our own situation in 2020, in Burundi, in the UK, USA, wherever?

  • God is still on His throne – it might not look like it always, but He is. Trust Him through thick and thin. The cliché applies: we don’t know what the future holds but we know Who holds the future. Let’s humble ourselves and pray – really pray! We had so many crazy answers to prayer in 2015 in the darkest of times.
  • Share your hope. Be positive. Encourage. Everyone can do with a bit more hope, positivity and encouragement.
  • This too will pass – The painful truth is that there will be future ‘COVID-19’-style crises in our lives, personally and/or (inter)nationally. God never promised us an easy journey, just a safe arrival. Burundians have developed such beautiful resilience through relentless trials. We can too.
  • Choose faith over fear – ‘When fear comes knocking at your door, let faith answer it!’
  • Learn whatever lessons you need to during this great shakedown. Let’s not go back to all the same (bad) habits once we’ve got through this.

Amidst so much legitimate doom and gloom, GLO wants to share stories of hope, joy and life to encourage you. I hesitate to share this particular story because you could think I’m self-promoting, but where Ida mentions me, substitute ‘GLO’. It illustrates exactly what we’re about. Not just the big nationwide-influencing stuff, but also helping the last, the lost, the least. Committing to change over the long haul. One at a time. 

At one point orphaned, Ida had no idea how her life would turn out. Unable to support herself, she had no hope. GLO was able to come alongside her and support her schooling, lodging, food, and other basic needs. 

So here’s a heart-warming 40sec clip of Ida at her graduation.

Well done Ida, we’re proud of you! And now we’ve set her up with a printing business, so do pray she can make it work.

Meantime, the other young lady, Dorine, now lives in Kenya and is married to a pastor there. Here’s a photo of her with husband Silas. 

Both ladies’ lives totally transformed, beautiful!

I know a number of you got behind them in finance and prayer, so thank you, and their victory is yours!

His brother rang to tell him their parents had been murdered and dumped down the sewer. He was about to run the most important race of his life…

Watch this beautiful short (4-minute) film to hear more of Charles’ story. It’s good to have stories of triumphant hope during these difficult days…

Deep peace to you, 

Simon Guillebaud