I had the privilege of travelling to Burundi in June! Burundi is a small, beautiful country in East Africa, one of the poorest nations in the world, and has a tragically broken history. If you didn’t catch part one of this blog, make sure you head here to read it first!
The day after visiting Aisha, we gathered for field church in Rubirizi, where Mark shared about the woman at the well and many responded to Jesus’ invitation to receive living water!
(Mark praying for those who had responded)
We then spent the afternoon watching the Foundations for Farming team in action as they shared with
a number of people, from all across different provinces in Burundi, who had heard about Foundations
for Farming. To see the surprise and delight on their faces when they saw the crops (out of season!),
Murungwa’s demonstration of how the soil is improved, and then Albert’s worm-filled compost was
(When the potential trainees saw the maize out of season, they were amazed!)
After a significant team day together, we then gathered in Gatanguru for field church! Marie-Rose told the story of her family saying ‘goodbye to hunger’ after implementing Foundations for Farming on a little stretch of land she had been allowed to use. She shared her husband’s surprise when she brought back all the maize she had harvested (her husband is unable to walk). Incredibly, she’s since been invited to high-level meetings by officials who were amazed at her crops and wanted her to teach them how to farm the same way! I mentioned in the last post that Psalm 113 had become a beacon and prayer of hope and faith for many in the community – if Marie-Rose’s story doesn’t speak of God raising people from the ash heap to seat them with princes, I’m not quite sure what does! It was incredible to hear and she was absolutely full of joy as she shared her story! Foundations for Farming really is having a life-changing impact amongst those we are working with.
We also had the privilege of praying for Chantel and her child, who had a nasty ear infection – with pus running from his ear down the side of his face. While nothing happened in the moment, Chantel shared with us a few days later, as City Gate Church gathered on Saturday morning, that her son had been healed! His infection seemed to be completely gone and he had no more pus running from his ear.
Very honestly, the cynic in me wonders why God would choose to heal this little boys’ ear infection, if he was indeed healed at all, and not any of the many, many others we prayed for – not the lady whose arm was double the size after her husband had beaten her with a stick (the team arranged for her to be treated). Not the lovely, gentle young man, known as Stevie, who has cerebral palsy and who asked for Mark and I to pray for him. Not Nadine, whose eyesight is getting progressively worse. Not Delphrose or her children, whose living conditions were so damp that they had been suffering with painful coughs and repeated chest infections. Not the many others we prayed for whose names and faces I am unable to recall a few weeks later, but whom God knows intimately. Yet the part of me that wants to grow in faith (and not doubt!), wants to trust in God’s goodness and give thanks for the gifts that he does give us.
(Praying for those who had responded at Gatanguru. Marie-Rose is in the white t-shirt at the right of the picture. Chantel is in the orange and blue in the middle)
Our last gathering with City Gate Church before I returned to the UK was an interesting morning!
We had gathered to worship, but also to distribute milk to the children, and beans to those going through the Foundations for Farming training. There was much joy as we worshipped, five more people were saved (amazing!), and three women delivered (my first experience of anything quite like that!). To see God encounter people for the first time, but also to see Him bring peace to these three ladies after a pretty disturbing 30 minutes or so, was a powerful moment and one I won’t forget. It certainly gave me a sharp reminder that a life of faith is one of spiritual warfare – it’s easy for that to just become a theological statement, rather than a lived reality, when you’re in the UK. At least, I think that had become true for me.
(Children enjoying the milk at our last gathering with City Gate Church!)
To finish, God is at work! There are so many challenges, the task seems impossibly large and it’s taking many years of investment and prayer, yet the team cling on to the promises of God. Donna and Murungwa have gathered a fantastic team of gifted men and women, with more on the way, who are trusting God, faithfully slogging away and loving the people God has given them to.
And there is more to come. God spoke to the team, a number of years ago now, about rebuilding what has been destroyed and restoring what has been lost. We believe we’re starting to see the first fruits of this even now. Gateway Church Swindon, and a few others who have generously responded to the prompting of God, have given money that has enabled land to be bought for around 30 of the c. 200 families that we’ve journeyed with. We believe that over the coming months and years, God will provide for every family to have their own plot of land (which they’ll own!), their own simple home, and a Pfumvudza plot to farm on – a small plot of land which will feed a family of 6 for a year, and provide surplus for selling, when using the Foundations for Farming principles.
So, for the few who made it all the way to the end, please can I ask you to pray? Firstly, for the team – that God would give them rest, grace, and wisdom. And secondly, for our friends in Burundi – the c. 200 families we’ve journeyed with – that God would rebuild and restore what they have lost and that many more would come to know him.
If I’m allowed to add this in, can I also encourage you to give to Hope for Tomorrow Global? The need is great and growing – we have many people who give so generously already, yet we often don’t have enough at the end of the month for all that we’re involved in until God steps in and provides! Even while I was in Burundi, we didn’t have the funds to buy beans for all the families. Apex Church in the Isle of Wight took up an offering which gave us funds for a good chunk of the beans, but it wasn’t until the very morning we were due to buy the beans that another generous giver was used by God to enable us to buy the full amount! So, if you’re able to give, please do head to hopefortomorrowglobal.org/donate
Written by Callum Lympany, Gateway Church, Swindon, UK