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Burundi Opens its Doors to the Gospel

Under 100 degree heat, rising dust, and high precipitation from the nearby Lake Tanganyika, 4,500 Burundian believers from all walks of life and all ages crammed into the temporary tin-roofed structure set up in an open field in the city center. They sang, danced, listened to our message of hope through Jesus Christ and prayed fervently for the salvation of their nation. Faith-filled believers and the intense heat combined with the occasional cooling breeze blowing over the crowd reminded me of what the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 must have felt like. The Holy Spirit was unmistakably present among us. The service was meant to be a gathering of believers from Bujumbura churches to pray for the healing and salvation of Burundi during our upcoming Festival of Hope and Leadership and Governance Conference in the capital city. However, when I asked if there was anyone who needed to receive Jesus Christ into their life as Lord and Savior, fifty four people stepped forward. Following this, I made a second altar call for those needing God’s special help in different areas of their lives. More than 500 raised their hands. We could not accommodate them all in the limited altar space. Later on as we headed for our car one woman stopped us in the street and asked us to pray for her and her husband to be able to conceive a baby. She was both desperate and full of confidence that God could help her through our prayer. For the rest of the service we sat sandwiched between Burundi's cabinet minister in the office of the President in charge of Good Governance and Local Administration Martin Nivyabandi accompanied by his wife and baby and Rev. Manasse Mberabagabo Ngendahayo pastor of Eglise Messianique Pour la Guerisons des Ames in Bujumbura (Messianic Church for the Healing of Souls). Martin was there both for himself and his family as well as to deliver a welcome from the president of Burundi and his cabinet colleagues. They were all united along with Bujumbura’s 58 evangelical congregations represented by Pastor Mannasse in welcoming the SWIM ministry. If what we saw at these inaugural services in December 2008 is any indication of what to expect in Burundi, then the upcoming Festival of Hope and Leadership and Governance conference, September 8th-13th 2009, will be a powerful and transformational time for the whole nation. We expect 50,000 people will participate at the Festival of Hope in addition to thousands of others listening in on radio and watching the services live on Television throughout Burundi and the neighboring Rwanda and Eastern DR Congo. President Pierre Nkurunziza accompanied by several of his cabinet ministers has indicated he will personally be present at the opening and closing nights of the Festival and at the Leadership and Governance Conference. Pray with us for a great harvest of souls during the Bujumbura Festival of Hope and for the strengthening of churches throughout Burundi as they work to bring healing to individuals laden with personal sin and to a nation battered and broken by fifteen years of civil war, social strife, and political instability.

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