Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 9, 2008 4 Nations Africa...God works in Burundi!

Just a quick 1 am note before we head out to Uganda in the morning. Edmond is the leader (International Director) of ARM (African Revival Ministries) and is the Senior Pastor of Eglise Vivante, the largest evangelical church in Burundi; ARM has a significant outreach ministry with two schools in Bujumbura, several AIDS clinics, a medical clinic, a church planting network (about 220 churches at present), and a surgical hospital in addition to a host of other outreach programs. Pastor Edmond/ARM is recieving the food shipment sent by Feed The Hungry; the fortified rice meals will be used to initiate school lunch programs.

At dinner last night Edmond said, "When you came to service on this morning you looked so familiar. Now I know where I've seen you before! I see you on Harvest on FETV all the time!"

We had fantastic meetings with the President, His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, the personal advisor to the President on Education, the Minister of Youth and Sports, and the Deputy Ambassador and Vice Consul of the US Embassy.

His Excellency and the First Lady are both people of great faith toward God and love toward the people of Burundi. Some of the attached photos are of the President leading worship at his residence on Sunday night... we were invited to attend this meeting where he & his cabinet and invited guests thank God for the things He has done during the previous week, to intercede for the people and nation, and to thank God for the things He will do in the coming week. Pastor Edmond shared a message out of Nehemiah as well. The President's favorite song is My Redeemer Lives (Hillsong) and boy did they get to dancing on that one! The choir is made up of former fighters who stayed with him in the bush after he was shot and left for dead.

The President has made public education for primary school children free, which is uncommon, if not unprecedented, in Africa... as a result there has been a flood of new primary students in the schools, children who were unable to attend school because of poverty. He is building 120 new schools in the rural areas to accomadate the new kids and establish new schools.

None of the schools here have lunch programs... at the two public schools we visited (one had 1,090 students the other had 570 students) some of the kids walk to school 7km (about 4 miles) one way... about half of the kids had no shoes, where Feed The Hungry and Samaritan's Feet come in, and none of the kids brought lunch with them. The school operates from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm; the younger kids attend half day, the older kids (grade 4-6) attend full day. At the schools Feed The Hungry will be serving, ARM will coordinate leaders from local churches to conduct VBS style bible education for each class every week as well as oversee and administrate the food disbursements.

We also visited a Twa village today; Twa is the tribal name of the pygmies. They are an ostracized and neglected minority (1-2% of the population). They are VERY welcoming and hospitable and we had a great time with the whole village of about 65 families.

God Bless, it's on to Uganda in the morning!