Blessed To Be A Blessing
WEDNESDAY, July 31, 2019
Another wonderful day in Matana, and we enjoyed more worship, praise, and prayer. A large focus of the ministry is directed toward widows and orphans, but it doesn’t stop there; many others benefit from their loving care, including men, and there are two very special men who work with the Matana ministry.
It was a dear privilege to hear their testimonies of how God has worked and continues to work in their lives through Homecare. Dieudonne could not stop praising God for bringing him to the center!
“It is a miracle for me to have this job,” he shared with the brightest, largest smile. His primary role is to cook for everyone at the center, and he says, “I am grateful every day to be here with these students and care for them.”
Here he has experienced the love of God through Jesus and has been baptized. He is able to care well for his family, and you can visibly see his deep joy and gratitude for the privilege of serving here. He radiates grace.
Emmanuel, too, expressed his deep thankfulness to be a part of this ministry, overseeing the facility, guarding, protecting and doing whatever is needed. He shared his story of being a champion runner, winning many medals and recognized as one of the best runners in Burundi, participating in many national championships. He was privileged to attend school and even finish high school, using his running skills. But once he graduated, there was nothing for him.
No job; no advanced education, no way to use his running gift, and unable to find any kind of work. How demoralizing for a gifted man who had done so much to promote his country to now be forgotten and ignored. He returned to his home village, Matana, doing whatever he could to survive. No one seemed to care or help. He had nothing, not even adequate clothing. But when Peace was preparing to establish this second center, she saw Emmanuel; he shared his plight, and as she always does, she managed to cloth him and find essentials for living. When she offered him employment at Homecare, he was overjoyed!
What some would not consider a very prestigious job, Emmanuel does with great pride and dignity. It takes a lot of courage to be this vulnerable, and we felt so privileged to be trusted with the journeys of these two caring, serving men.
Caroline, our “senior” teammate, a young 83, is quite a star on this trip. The women in Bujumbura especially have heard so much about her, her love for sewing, and how she prays for them, that everyone has been most excited to finally get to meet her! She has been determined to come to Burundi, and despite the long journey, she is here. She wanted to share something from scripture with the ladies, and today she presented an overview of the Gospel, from Genesis through the birth of Christ to the crucifixion and resurrection.
She did a beautiful job of explaining God’s plan. When asked for responses from the ladies, one lady stood up and said that she now understood much more clearly God’s plan and now felt able to share it with her children, family and friends. Clearly it was impactful.
Then Trenda showed the group examples of some simple shorts and a jumper that they could make for their children, bringing patterns and instructions. She had also brought partially completed pin cushions and showed them how to finish them as gifts for the ladies graduating Friday. What a sweet gift, begun by their friends in the US and completed by their sisters in Matana! We all took up needles and thread and worked together to complete one for each of the graduates.
Another aspect of the Matana ministry is to help older widows raise sheep and more crops. Several of these ladies from Kibungo (another neighboring village) came to meet with us, share the great success of the sheep raising and even bring a large bag of the beans they have grown to share with the center in Matana.
“We want to share the great blessing we have received with our sisters here; we are family.”
And so you see the beautiful community created here and in Bujumbura, their care for one another and how grateful they are for all God has blessed them with, and with hearts ready to share with others.
We departed Matana feeling so blessed, so thankful for the great growth we see in these widows and orphans, and very challenged by their gratitude and joy in the Lord. Their gratitude and recognition that ALL things from the Lord is humbling and stirring. By our standards they, don’t have a lot materially, but to them, they are rich indeed.
We descend from the mountains, taking the winding, often “exciting” turns, threading through the hills, overlooking lush valleys, smelling the abundance of eucalyptus trees lining the road. The closer we get to Bujumbura, the warmer it becomes, the congestion increases, and once again we are back in the city.
We had the joy of being guests at Peace’s home tonight, where she is staying with her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter who have recently returned to Burundi to live after many years. What a wonderful adjustment they have made to a very different lifestyle from Canada! These days have been so full; we have seen the face of Jesus in those we have met with and been so encouraged to see how powerfully God is at work! And it is a journey we share together…sisters and brothers in Christ, walking life’s road together, each at our own place in the journey. We are all broken individuals living in a very broken world, but we have the same Savior, Comforter, and Hope – Jesus. And they continue to witness to His faithfulness wherever they go – the ripple effect goes far beyond these centers, and we see glimpses of how God is truly bringing Hope to Burundi.