Dear ITEM Partner,
We met today with the ITEM’s Burundian team. This was not on our original schedule but decided to add it at the last minute. I am very glad that we did. Chris had a chance to meet and hear from the team and how God is using them. But in addition to that, I gained insights into the youth culture, which is important since my goal is to get an ITEM youth ministry started using apologetics as a platform.
HE WON’T LET THE BIBLE IN
I had the great privilege of being able to meet and spend some time with our Burundi team along with our DRC coordinator Joel Mananga this morning. It was a beautiful morning for a chat as we sat outside our hotel under the shady breakfast nook, where we could feel the cool breezes and see the majestic mountains surrounding Bujumbura. Not a bad place to have a meeting! Certainly, it is better than those ubiquitous cheesy nature backgrounds on Zoom.
We heard some very encouraging and exciting testimonies of what God is doing through ITEM’s work in Burundi. One story in particular stands out. Gershom, who is one of our team members, lives in Makamba. He told us about a church he has been working with which had a prayer house into which the pastor refused to allow church members to bring their Bibles. His rationale is that he was the man of God who heard directly from God and so no Bible was needed. Jesus didn’t need a Bible and neither did he.
Shocking as it is to hear for many evangelical Christians in the West, this attitude is prevalent in many places across Africa. Personal revelation, prophecies, and all manner of chicanery under the guise of “hearing a word from the Lord” are bringing great harm to the church. If Satan can get the Bible out of the hands of God’s people, then he can deceive them with impunity.
By God’s grace ITEM has been raised up to confront this kind of deception through training pastors to become examples, equippers, and expositors of God’s Word. Gershom reported that after some training with the pastor and church leadership, the Bible is now allowed in the prayer house and the pastor is beginning to see the error of his ways.
What a joy it is to see deception unmasked and the truth of God set people free! I think this testimony was perhaps the highlight of the trip for me. As the old hymn says, “His truth is marching on!”
As you probably know, if you have been reading recent newsletters and blog posts, as we transition at ITEM to Chris McMillan’s leadership of the ministry, my goal is to start an ITEM youth ministry using apologetics (“be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks…” 1 Pet 3:15) as a platform.
I recently had a chance to speak virtually to a youth conference in Nigeria. In February and March I will be teaching classes online for “Apologetics Kenya.” And next May I will be participating in the initial conference being organized by a new ministry, Adventurous Apologetics, in Kamapla, Uganda.
When I mentioned that today it brought a reaction from a couple of the Burundian team members. What I heard today was that “youth” love to come to Christian meetings (e.g. church) to sing and dance but when the speaker/preacher gets up to speak/preach, many leave the room after just a few minutes.
This got me to thinking about how to overcome that and my first thought was “don’t preach, dialogue instead.” This is exactly what apologetics is supposed to be, “answering people’s questions about Christianity reasonable and rationally” and that requires dialogue. I intend to follow up with the team members who mentioned this to check out my theory.
We got the results of our covid tests today before 3pm as promised. Both were negative as expected. So, we are good to go and fly back to Kenya tomorrow morning.
We had some extra time this afternoon so Boniface (ITEM Coordinator) took us to what appeared to be a tiny zoo. We saw a variety of animals. See the picture album.
Our final “touristy” thing was going to see Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake in the world. From the shore where we were standing, we could see the outline of some hills in the DRC. I’ve included a map of central Africa in the picture album that shows the location of the lake.
HEADING TOWARDS HOME
Sunday, we fly back to Kenya where we will spend the major portion of three days before leaving for home Tuesday night.
- Praise for negative Covid tests and that the report got to us in time.
- Pray for safe travel.
- Pray for our Burundian team and for the fruit of their ministry here.
Thanks for your interest and prayers.
By His grace,
Steve and Chris
Here is the link to the picture album with lots of new pictures.