Years of civil war and violence rendered the country of Burundi desperately ill. A population bound in fear and hopelessness dispersed as refugees around the world testified to catastrophic civil breakdown. Child soldiers are only now entering back into society, damaged from being both victims and perpetrators of violence. With each rainstorm precious topsoil slides down eroded, over-farmed hills into muddy rivers chocked with silt. The greatest loss is life. Children, youth, women, and men irrespective of their status or affiliation lost their God-given right to life. The picture seems bleak.
Thankfully, this is not the full picture nor the picture we see painted today. If in division and hate there is violence than in unity and love there is hope for peace. A community sadly divided and often hateful is the Church in Burundi. But, imagine. Imagine that the Christian community in Burundi (which is a majority of the country) stands together and awakes to their responsibility to peace and reconciliation in Burundi! How would this country change?
This vision of communal and individual awareness ignited the process to organize a week long experience of prayer and fasting for the country of Burundi. World Relief Burundi’s Church Mobilization department played an integral part in coordinating the events that took a small contingent of pastors and visitors from Cameroon to 12 provinces May 4-8. In each province the group met with local intercessors from various churches and Christian organizations to pray for the people and the ground. In various locations they specifically approached places that were once mystic and are still today thought to hold satanic power. The team experienced resistant power while praying over the places-the spiritual struggle was evident.
The week of cross country prayer and fasting ended with a time of prayer and reconciliation at the football stadium in Bujumbura. Representatives from the government, army, and police came forward to ask the people of Burundi and God forgiveness for the atrocities committed by their respective institutions. Theirs was an obvious sin, but ostensibly humbling were representatives from the Church that also asked forgiveness for not fulfilling its mission stand in the gap for peace and the value of human life. Confession and forgiveness have the power to break years of bitterness and hate, and it was in this in this new freedom that those present raised the Burundian flag and consecrated Burundi to God.
Much still remains to be done. National elections are only just a year away and political tensions and violence are on the increase. World Relief Burundi is seeking to (in partnership with other Christian NGO’s and organizations) mobilize churches under a common uniting theme of peace. By the end of 2009 we want to see churches and intercessors mobilized in all 17 provinces that will stand committed as pillars of peace for Burundi.