Would or Could be Dead but Now Not…

That’s a cryptic title! What do I mean?

I’ve just had an inspiring ‘Christian Initiatives for Peace’ meeting where we’ve analysed the impact of our media campaign over the last seven months. We can see that it has made a huge – but hard to quantify – impact on many people’s lives. Some people are definitely still alive today who without seeing or listening to our TV or radio programs would have made destructive choices and ended up dead.

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One simple example straight off: Charles had decided to kill his family members. Before doing it, he listened to the radio, heard our talk on forgiveness and non-violence, and instead became a follower of Jesus, not just in word, but in deed.

Back in May we organized a youth conference with great difficulty amidst burning streets and barricades set up all over town (see here). One of our key young leaders was angry at what we said during those two days, which essentially involved taking a neutral political position but insisting on non-violence as the means of sorting out our political differences, whichever side we were on. That day he wanted us to endorse a violent insurrection, but we didn’t, however displeased we might have been with the status quo. His analysis seven months on is that he is grateful to still be alive. He thanks us now. His friends who didn’t listen to what we said are either dead, in prison, or have fled the country.

The talk that probably had the biggest impact was one addressing multiple (false) prophecies. One such ‘prophecy’ told people to stop interceding for peace, that a bloodbath was imminent as God’s judgment on Burundi, so people shouldn’t pray against that, standing against God’s will. Hundreds (and for some periods thousands) were fleeing daily as a result of such fear-inducing ‘words of God’, but that single program (shown multiple times) had an instant impact in stemming the tide and helping people discern what might or might not be a true prophecy.

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There are many more stories to share. The situation here is very far from rosy. Terrible things are still happening. However, the good stories need to be told. Many of you have supported us in this. We continue to stick our necks out. Key contributors talked of the stress of feeling followed in their cars and fearing getting killed for not siding strongly enough with one side or the other in this very polarized situation of ‘if you’re not fully with us, you’re totally against us’. That’s the difficult challenge we are trying to live out, as many others co-opt Jesus as being behind them for their own personal agendas.

God help us to be faithful in this difficult task…

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