Burundi is a small country to the southwest of Lake Victoria. It is bordered by Rwanda on the north, Democratic Republic of Congo and Lake Tanganyika on the west, and Tanzania on the south and east. It has recently emerged from a lengthy civil war. The total devastation by fire of Bujumbura's (the capital's) central market in early 2013 has significantly affected the national economy. Despite these setbacks, Burundi remains a beautiful country in which there is real spiritual hunger.
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Photos of Burundi
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ECLEA in Burundi
ECLEA personnel first went to Burundi in January 2009. Early-on, Jonathan Menn began working with Rema Ministries. Rema is an indigenous ministry in Burundi that, like ECLEA, focuses on training church leaders. Consequently, Rema and ECLEA have entered into a memorandum of understanding whereby Rema will use its personnel and contacts to teach ECLEA's courses in Burundi and to identify good candidates among those who participate at ECLEA training sessions to become part of the ECLEA teaching team. Our plan is that Jonathan will train the Rema staff members and ECLEA-Burundi treachers in ECLEA's courses as well as participate in other church leader training sessions. In this way, ECLEA will have maximum impact since we already have an experienced group of teachers.
Here are updates from ECLEA's Burundi team concerning ECLEA's work in Burundi (older news accounts of ECLEA's work in Burundi and the rest of East Africa are located in the News Archive):
Francois Nitunga, ECLEA-Burundi coordinator
REPORT OF CHURCH LEADERS TRAINING HELD AT CANKUZO (2 TIMES), BUKEYE, MUZYE AND MISHIHA FROM JANUARY TO MARCH 2020
I am so delighted to share with you an activity report that took place during this period of 3 months from January to March 2020. Despite the Corona Virus we are fine in the Lord and praise God. Even though we are not in the confinement, we do limited work as we await to see how tomorrow’s situation will be. This means that we didn’t do the trainings scheduled in April.
I would like to share with you about the church leaders training progress. So far, in this year we have held few trainings. The first one starts with the training you (Jonathan) held in Bujumbura on the book of Revelation on 20th January 2020 which was crowned with graduation of 28 people in Cankuzo. This graduation was also preceded by the training on the book on Marriage and Parenting at Cankuzo which was done the same time with the one you conducted.
Cankuzo training Cankuzo graduates
From February 24th to 28th we held the last training in Muzye on the book of James. One pastor from the graduates Rev. NIYUKURI Emmanuel, the Assistant bishop of the World Gospel Church said: “I have been in a seminary for 4 years in Tanzania and have been preaching on the book of James. However, I had never discovered the depth of the message therein and now am questioning whether really, I am saved or not. And if I am saved, there are many things I need to repent of and tell my brethren to do. I think we need to rethink our theology and Christianity we have been teaching our followers. Woe to us leaders for we have been doing things that are unbiblical. In fact, we have taught just religion, mores, traditions and culture which do not have anything to do with Christianity and salvation. I wish we had ample time to go back wherever we have “poisoned” and bewitched people to believe our insanity”.
This training was crowned with the issuing of diploma to 38 people who had been attending the whole 14 courses we taught them.
Muzye graduation attendees Muzye graduates
3. New training center and new in-take
Back to Cankuzo, a vision casting was held the same time in Mishiha and Cankuzo from March 23 to 28th. Pastors from Mishiha had pleaded with us that we should start a training school there so that their capacity be built and they would be able to face their Muslim colleagues and strengthen their Christians in a Muslim stronghold. 65 church leaders have been registered and a centre is now established there. They vowed to be serious, buy books and contribute towards their upkeep while they are attending the courses. We only praise God for their commitment.
Mishiha new students
Meanwhile, as the Cankuzo first intake graduated, 30 more pastors registered and have started the course. We praise God for the impact and community transformation the course is having. However, in both centers, Cankuzo and Mishiha, the trainees pleaded with us that we should go slowly taking into consideration the fact that many of them have never been to school or any seminary hence it is what they are learning takes time to sink in. We promised them that we would follow their pace and we agreed that they will be given much homework to do and practice which they appreciated a lot. We believe the numbers will gradually increase as many people now are discovering the sweetness of the course, especially from those who had attended seminary schools from abroad yet discovered that compared to what they had learned earlier, they realized that there were many lacunae their need to address.
Cankuzo new training
4. Looking ahead
Because the surrounding pastors appreciated the training we had been giving to those pastors and the impact the course did to those pastors as well as their followers, 30 more church leaders enrolled to start this course and are ready.
Meanwhile, the Rutana Anglican bishop mobilized his pastors and leaders to attend this course as well. We are still waiting for the starting day as we are waiting for the development of Corona virus otherwise, we are ready to start. This means that we would get 2 centres in the province of Rutana alone.
As to the remaining centres, nothing so far has changed, that is Bukeye and Nyanza Lac.
In addition, this mission took place when the whole world is under siege of Covid-19. As I write this report there are officially ten confirmed cases here in Burundi and of whom one is already dead.
During the training, we took the opportunity to teach our trainees on how they should behave to avoid contracting the virus and avoiding to contaminate others. In most times the countryside is underinformed. The only way to avoid contamination is through hand wash with soap. We also talked about the need for distanciation among them. We took enough time to teach them to wash their hands and this should be their lifestyle. We sensitize them to look for money to buy utensils and soap so that they should wash their hands properly. This should be well applied in their respective Churches and in their communities as well. In November we had been taught by nurses from Mission international (from Scotland). They conducted a one week workshop on health and hygiene and this did help us to spread the knowledge and skills.
The government has sensitized the population to adhere to hygiene so that the whole country can fight against the virus. As you know here in Africa, we do not have running water at our homes and that is why we have many diseases like cholera, dysentery, and diarrhoea which are killing people in Africa. They said, “Truly you would be helpful as we would go in turn to build the capacity of our surrounding community with regard to hygiene." We will go deeply into this issue in our book of Biblical Stewardship.
Let us all continue to pray for each other.
God bless you, Francois
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Frederic Harerimana, ECLEA-Burundi coordinator
REPORT ON CHURCH LEADERS TRAINING HELD AT BUKEYE - MURAMVYA FROM 8TH JUNE TO 12 JUNE 2020
Introduction: We praise the Almighty God that we have once again started the trainings that had been on hold for quite some time due to Corona Virus, elections and Francois’ illness. Francois is convalescing and can now do missions.
Feedback: The last training with the people from Muramvya was held in January and was on Revelation. As we share our experiences and how we have put in practice what we have learned within two months, to our surprise, when we asked them what remained after they have forgotten everything, we were delighted to hear how they recalled almost everything they had learned and how they have applied what they had learned in their various churches. Their followers saw the book of Revelation in a new way that is different from what they used to believe the book is all about.
Testimonies: Pastor NYANDWI Shadrach said: “I keenly followed when Jonathan was training. There are many things that became alive such as the 144,000 and the millennium as well as rapture. We had been taught various things but when I assessed them, I realize that we were wrong.”
Pastor IRAKOZE Justine said: "I was part of SDA, and we had been taught so many things related to Revelation. When I had not yet come across this book and that training, I used to believe what I had been taught. When I got home, I took ample time to go through all the pages of this book, compared the content with what we had been taught earlier, and with the explanation given by Jonathan, I discovered that we had been misled by our previous teachers. Now, I have understood the truth contained in that book. I am so grateful that I was part of this capacity building."
We praise God that many of our trainees understood the book of Revelation and can confidently preach from that book which used to be taboo for them as they could not make head or tail of that book.
Frederic teaching at Bukeye Part of the class at Bukeye
The course on Biblical Marriage and Parenting:
This course took place at Bukeye from 8th to 12th June 2020. Were present 18 people. The training was on Marriage and Parenting. Frederic and Francois took part in that training. The debate and discussions were primarily based on the equality of men and women, what submission is and what it is not, and what love is. Due to cultures and mores, men have realized that the foundation of their marriages has been wrong and as a result, the pleasure and happy marriage they were expecting from their marriages has not happened. The tradition has it that if men do not beat their wives, they would not respect them. This tradition was confronted to what the Bible teaches and to the surprise of all the participants, they realized that they were wrong. They asked this question: “Does really the Bible mean what it says. If the Bible says that men should not beat their wives as nobody can beat himself, where did this practice of beating wives come from? Even among the Christian families including pastors, there are husbands who beat their wives”. They were pleased to expound Philippians 2:5-11 as an example of submission. They were also pleased to read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.
Another hot issue was polygamy where men were allowed by the culture to have many wives. When the good news came, some of those wives were divorced with all the consequences. A heated debate ensued as it comes to who to remain with and who to divorce while the Bible says that what God has put together nobody is allowed to put asunder. After we expounded the verses which talk about happy marriage and the role and responsibility of each partner in the couple, what the Bible says about divorce each of the present members understood what needed to be straightened in their families. Luckily enough there were 3 women who took part in that training and we had a balanced discussion.
Due to many discussions and debates, we could not finish the book and we will continue with the remaining part of the book. The participants vowed to use the teachings to undo the wrong teachings they had heard and sensitize the members of the church, especially starting from the people who come for counselling before marriage.
We praise God for the courage, zeal and commitment these attendants showed during the training. The course was so interesting to my big surprise as compared to many other places we taught this course. The reason could be that Bukeye is a centre inhabited by many people who have concubines. As these participants want to make up the time they lost during the corona virus pandemic and elections, they decided that they would be attending this course monthly until they graduate.
Respectfully submitted, Frederic Harerimana
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Francois Nitunga, ECLEA-Burundi coordinator
REPORT OF CHURCH LEADERS TRAINING HELD IN MISHIHA, JUNE 22-26, 2020
From 22nd to 26th of June 2020, we praise God that Rema opened a new centre for training pastors in the province of Cankuzo, in the eastern part of Burundi close to Tanzania border an muslim prone area due to closeness with Tanzania, a country highly islamized. This influence is caused by business people who lure people into business and give them some incentives so that they may agree to become Muslims.
We are grateful to the Lord that this school was asked by the Union of Christian Churches made of 13 denominations. Indeed, there are 63 people who enroll for this school and came from 5 denomnations. Among them are 4 ladies. Others from other denominations will join later. We are expecting about 8 new candidates. We are grateful to the Lord that most of the trainees are still young and we hope that as they mature they will be good leaders in their respective churches.
3. Training programme
This programme was officially opened by the Chairperson of the Union of Christian Churches. His exective members were also present. He encouraged the participants to be assidious and perseverent in the whole programme as the school will last for almost 4 years. It requires patience and perseverance. Before the the school started the students took time to design the rules that will be guiding them during the period they will be in the in the training. They also designed the programme that would be followed daily. As many of them have to walk very long distances in an area where there are no guest houses, they agreed to start from 8:30AM and finish at 3:00 PM. In between there are 45 minutes break where they go to have their lunch near the market in small restaurants.
4. Course: Stewardiship
Before we strated the course we took enough time to talk about the pandemic COVID-19 especially the way they should be on the forefront to fight against its spread, and practice good hygiene as directed by Health Ministry. We also agreed that we should respect social distancing between two people and we tried all our best respect it.
The stewardship course was highly appreciated by the participants as it is a course that would help them to prepare for their future. Participants asked the trainers not to be fast as most of them hardly write but know well how to read though they are in ministry. They requested the trainer to be slow as they wanted to master the content of the course and more over put into practice what they learn.
Students follow attentively the teachings, and learn with lots enthusiasm
The trainees learned more through discussion groups. The trainer is clarifying questions for discussion groups. They are also help one another.
During the course students kept sharing beteen themeslves and in small grougps how biblical stewardship is helping them to learn more about the daily living and life in the society. Many of them said: “We are expecting transformation as we finish this course”
The following are some of the testimonies few of them shared:
Mirenzo Daniel: This course of money stewardship and helping others has touched my heart. I used to think that whenever I get money that is my own I forgot that this is what the Lord has entrusted me with. I was encouraged to learn how I can plan for the future, make my budget and save some for the future. In the past I did not know how to distinguish things. Although we have not been through with this course, I have got a glimse of light as to how I am going to change my attitude toward money, and change the way I used to do things.
Niyonkuru Therese: “I will give an account.” I am a women leader in my church. I have changed my attitude from this start since I did not act as a steward. I used to dodge as I had thought that I am a master to be served and not to serve. This course opened my eyes and I discovered that whatever we have, has been entrusted to us by God. I understood that I will be called by God to give an account of how what has been entrusted to me has been dealt with. I must trust other people and follow what the Bible commends us to do--not to be a boss but a servant.
Bizimana Barnabe: I did not know anything about a steward. I thought a steward is somebody who just gives orders to others to do things for them. When I went home I narrated to my wife what I had understood to be a steward and what being a steward involves. I told her that I am a steward in my home and that she is also a steward as well. She then encouraged me to take efforts to study hard. She told me to proceed and to be at the said school on time, as a testimony of a good stewarship. I have learned that as good steward.
After we realized the zeal of the participants we believe they will continue with the programme although some come from far in neighbouring communes of Mishiha. Among the churches that are part of the Union, we believe many more are likely to come. We are grateful to the Lord that this school has become a solution to the concern of the Christian churches as they face and engage with Islam evangelism. We are still praying that the Lord would enable us to continue and strengthen the participant not to give up. Two pastors among the leaders of the Union of Churches are part of the alumni that graduated recently in Cankuzo. They agreed to be encouraging the new stuidents in that school until the end.
We are grateful to the Lord that after a long time of absence on the field the Lord has opened up the way. COVID-19 and the general elections had slowed us down for the past months, and now have resumed our pastoral training activities. We are also grateful to Jonathan who has made this mission and training possible. We appreciate the supports he sent us. We thank all people who unceasingly pray for us.
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Frederic Harerimana, ECLEA-Burundi coordinator
Report of the mission held in Cankuzo from 21st June to 26, 2020
We praise God that things that seemed to have been on hold due to Corona Virus and general elections for quite some time kick started. Hence, from 21st June to 26, a mission was held in Cankuzo. Took part in that Mission Frederic Harerimana and Peter Baziyaka the driver.
Rema started a new school in Cankuzo. Fortunately, most of the people that enrolled for the school did come to witness the graduation of our former students. They were enthusiastic to take part in that training and vowed to continue till the end which will be in 4 years time.
Were present 41 students. What was unusual was that they started on time that is 8 AM on dot and continued until the end that is 4h 30. In between, there were 30 minutes break and an hour for lunch.
Challenge: there are 5 people among them who hardly read and write.
We started with the course on Biblical Stewardship. To them this course was an eye opener. They regretted that they did not know that the Bible has something to say about stewardship. One of them said: “I am surprised that the Bible has a holistic approach on everything we do in life. Indeed, if we were aware of this before we were called to ministry, I believe we would have achieved a lot compared to what we are doing.”
After we went through the course, there were so many questions that were raised. The good thing was that all those questions related to traditions and what they had been taught in the past by their denominations and pastors. We went through the stewardship of Environment, time, money, land, and relationships.
Point of tension
One of the points of tension was the relationship between wives and husbands. Wives were told to be submissive to their husbands while husbands were told to love their wives as Christ loved his church and gave himself up for her. A hot debate issued and in conclusion the husbands realized that they were wrong in the way they treated their wives in light of the word of God. Fortunately enough, among the participants, there were two women. Although the number is so limited, it is better than nothing and this enriches the debate.
The issue of giving
Then came the issue of giving. We went through the giving according to the Old Testament where we discovered why the Israelites were to give. Some were surprised to realize that most of the Old Testament people gave out of willingness as a sign and proof of obeying God knowing that all they have, have been entrusted to them, knowing that they are only steward and that they will give an account to the one who has entrusted to them whatever they have got.
Parable of unjust steward and parable of talents
It was interesting to understand the three parables Jesus taught. The participants were interested in the wicked steward. They were amazed by the fact that Jesus recommended the wicked steward not because he approved of what he did but because he was intelligent enough to prepare for his future. We took a long time to go through the parable of the talents. Participants were surprised to realize that Jesus gave to each steward talents he was able to handle.
Continuous assessment tests
As a Contineous Assessment Test, CAT, participants were asked to identify all the talents that are in their congregations and how they could make use of them. It was interesting to note how they understood the course and the issue of talents that Jesus spoke about.
One of the most crucial issues that raised most of the questions was tithe. The participants were asked to define what they understand to be the tithe. Some gave some attempts, but most of them would not agree on the right definitions. We went through the course and read most of the verses that talked about tithe. They were surprised to realize that each year Israelites were requested to give 23% of what they have to the Lord and that was not optional. The Old Testament acted as a constitution for the Israelites.
Did Jesus and the disciples talk about tithing in the New Testament
A hot debate issued: Are New Testament people allowed to give a tithe of pig and bring it in the church or accept it as a tithe. Many people do not understand the principle of tithing. Asked if they could accept as a tithe the money from selling the same animal they said yes. So the question is why this discrepancy? They came to realize that the Old Testament was a paidagogos, a tutor which acted as a child care and that all was accomplished in Jesus Christ including the tithes and Sabbath.
When we went through the New Testament, they were surprised to realize that Jesus never talked about tithe apart from when he was confronting pharisees, sadducees and scribes in Matthew 23. They were surprised to understand the context under which he spoke about the tithe. Neither did the disciples talk about the tithe, they were then confronted with why they always quote Malachi 3:10 whenever they want to get money from the congreagants. When they undestood the context, they all repent that they had been cheating the people and using scriptures for their own interest. So they then devised how to teach people. The conclusion was that they should teach people to love God and all their hearts, minds, possessions and when it will come to give they would give out of their pockets without gramblings knowing that giving is compared to act of worship and knowing that you know where spiritually your congregation is when you compare it with their giving.
Did the Old Testament talk of tithing money?
Moreover, they realized that the Old Testament never asked the tithe of money except in few circumstances where it was difficult to drag animals on long distances to the place of sacrifice and that in that case the money would be used to buy things to eat and share with others, they were not allowed to go home with any remaining money from the sale.
Planning for the future
After going through the course, they vowed that when we wind up the three or four years they all would have cars as a result of planning and good stewardship.
As assignment, the participants were asked to go through the whole course and note the discrepancy that is between what they had been taught, their traditions, norms, mores and cultures and the new discoveries they had seen in the course they went through and suggest changes that would be helpful to the church. We agreed to meet again in the month of August.
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