I’ve asked one of my Burundian soul-mates who is having an amazing impact in the nation to share with you from his perspective some of what we are up to these days. Over to him:
“Since the current crisis began in Burundi about a year ago, Simon asked me to head up and coordinate what we decided to call ‘Christian Initiatives for Peace.’ As GLO partners over the last number of years, we have met monthly to encourage and sharpen each other. Simon’s vision for GLO was to create a tight informal relational network of passionate local leaders, all of whom were having a strategic impact through their respective ministries in the country.
We were determined to play our role in our beloved nation at this difficult time. Confusion reigned in the Church (as well as in the country as a whole) as some supported the President and the ruling party whilst others wanted to see change. We deliberately positioned ourselves as a non-political body so as to challenge all sides and insist on the sacredness of life, compassion, Ubuntu, and personal responsibility. Whatever folks believed in the political realm, as followers of Jesus those four components were non-negotiable, and must guide how they responded in seeking to maintain the status quo or see change come.
Let me tell you it was scary at times to stick our necks out, on TV and radio, using tens of thousands of tracts, at conferences, bringing youth leaders together, mobilising churches, trying through every means possible to stand for non-violence during violent times. People recognized us wherever we went, and as things became ever more polarized, radicals on each end didn’t like what we were advocating. I often wondered if I would pay the ultimate price of my life for what we were doing, but I (and the others with me) considered it worth the cost as followers of Jesus and because we love our nation so much.
Just this last week, GLO sponsored a pastors meeting, during which a Bishop said to me: “We have failed as a church. We have not been able to use our prophetic voice. All of us are looking to you folks at CIP for help.” That was both encouraging to me, and sad. Encouraging because we are so obviously playing a key role, but sad because he was recognizing and confessing the tragic failure of his church (and much of the Church at large) to embrace its mandate to be a mouthpiece for moral authority and righteousness.
We have so much work to do. But what I love is that GLO is purposely unknown behind the scenes – not seeking credit for these initiatives, but simply working to facilitate powerful meetings that lead to reconciliation and healing. Some of what we’ve been involved in is too sensitive and can’t be talked about. Maybe we’ll be able to share those stories in ten years’ time!
But for now, I want to thank you so much for your support and ask you to continue to pray for us in Burundi. These are very difficult times. We have a long way to go. Nobody knows how things will turn out. Please continue to contribute to GLO so that we can continue to leverage our networks here for peaceful strategic change in precious Burundi.”
You can contribute here at www.greatlakesoutreach.org