Travel Diary 6: HE WON’T LET THE BIBLE IN

Dear ITEM Prayer Partners,

I had the great privilege of being able to meet and spend some time this (Saturday) morning with our Burundi team along with our DRC assistant coordinator Joel Mananga. 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.

THE BIBLE IS NO WELCOME HERE

Gerchom, 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.

YOUR PRAYERS AND GIFTS ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

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!”

Thank you for praying and giving to make this all possible.

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (FROM SATURDAY)

One of the challenges of international travel is the language barrier. There is nothing more awkward and frustrating than trying to communicate with a person when you cannot understand one another. Well, the language barrier was on full display at dinner tonight. The two primary languages of Burundi are Kirundi and French. Since I’ve never heard of Kirundi and I chose Spanish in high school over French, about the only words I know in French are those I’ve heard when others have asked me to excuse them for speaking it, and these are words you certainly don’t use at the dinner table.

A SIMPLE REQUEST FOR SOME HOT WATER

The case of the fire water begins innocently enough with Steve asking for hot water in a cup at dinner. Reasonable enough, except that our waiter who spoke some English looked at us as if we had asked him to sacrifice his children. He immediately scurried away and another waiter appeared who supposedly could speak better English. A few turns at hand motions and gestures and saying “hot” and “water” in about every English variation possible to no avail. Mercifully, I saw a pitcher of water being used to wash the hands of the restaurant patrons and rushed to do my best charades impersonation with the pitcher of water. After a few seconds of gesticulations with the water pitcher, the waiter excitedly exclaimed “water,” “water!” And we rejoiced! Taking my seat, pride welled up within me as I thought about how resourceful and clever I am.

Unfortunately, my pride was soon wounded and our rejoicing short-lived when the waiter brought to our table some bottled water. At least we were halfway there now. We started again trying to think of every variation of “hot” we could. Have you ever noticed that when you say something someone doesn’t understand you just keep repeating it as if saying it more times will suddenly make sense to the person?

After a few more minutes of scouring the English language for synonyms for hot, finally the waiter said “fire!” Yes, that’s it. Fire water! Soon a kettle of hot water arrived at our table and once again I was reminded of the many ways missions work can humble you.

ON OUR WAY HOME

Today we were up early and to the airport slightly past 7 for our 9:15 flight. Things were going fine until at one of the check points before entering the terminal an official at the airport with broken English was trying to tell Steve that his visa had expired. His passport was set aside and the agent served others. The agent made phone calls while Steve sat and waited. Finally, after the line of people had been dealt with, the agent told Steve again that his visa had expired and that he had to go pay for another one. Together the agent and Steve looked at the visa in Steve’s passport and then it dawned on the agent that the visa was good through 13-2 (Feb 13) not 13-1 (Jan 13). The agent sincerely apologized and let us pass. We are now back in Nairobi, Kenya.

MONDAY THEN TUESDAY

Monday morning we will again head out to get one last Covid test that will get us on the plane heading home Tuesday night. Both of us should be at our respective homes around dinner time on Wednesday.

PRAY

  • Please continue to pray for “negative” covid tests.
  • Pray for safe travel
  • Pray for Steve and I as we discuss our own personal trips for the coming year and how best to spread ourselves around the continent.
  • Pray for the easing of Covid restrictions in these African countries and especially Madagascar and the sea and air borders are closed.

Thanks!

Partnering in the gospel,
Chris McMillan (ITEM VP)

Here is the link to the picture album with several new pictures to enjoy

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