By Dave Soutter
Nine of us departed Charleston on Friday, June 9 for the 12th mission to Burundi. We had a full schedule and were blessed in so many ways.
As always, our central overarching vision is the spreading of the Gospel, in every plan and in everything we did in there.
Our principal focus was preparing two, two-day pastors’ conferences offering teachings on healing prayer. We held the first on Monday and Tuesday in Bujumbura for more than 30 pastors associated with long-time partner Onesphore’s Pastors’ Education Network. The teachings were very well received and included some successful demonstrations of healing prayer and of deliverance.
The second seminar was for a similar number of pastors in Bugarama on Wednesday and Thursday, pastors gathered by another longtime partner, Emmanuel. Also very well received, this conference was beautifully accented by the wonderful singing of 35 men in an acoustically perfect room. Glorious, just glorious. Susalee Sasser’s description nearby vividly captures both events.
While in Bugarama, we were excited to finally receive the title to ten (!) acres of land for the long-promised clinic. Hooray! We held a formal groundbreaking (actually, the practice in Burundi is to lay the first bricks, which we each did in turn) attended by the governor, the mayor, the national director of health, and many singers and dancers. The event was capped by Martha Dougherty reciting the 23rd Psalm in Kirundi, which was received with a roar of approval.
Saturday, we joined almost a thousand people for the inaugural graduation from Gitega International Academy, Freddy Tuyziere’s English language boarding school. Several of us remember in 2010 praying, in the rain, in an open field, when Freddie told us God was going to build Burundi’s best secondary school there. What a joy to be there for the first graduation! Then Sunday, we joined hundreds of friends for a celebration of Burundi Youth for Christ’s anniversary. It was there we announced St. Michael’s gift to acquire a new bus. Thank you, St. Michael’s.
In addition to these major events, we also called on the Anglican Archbishop of Burundi, taking him greetings from our Bishop Mark. We also were able to preach and offer testimonies at three churches, thoroughly enjoying enthusiastic Burundi worship. Plus, over the course of the week, we also met, over breakfast or dinner usually, several of Simon Guillebaud’s ministry partners and hear their stories. Their recounting histories of terrible hardship, war, genocide, becoming child soldiers, all redeemed ultimately by the power of the Holy Spirit. We all came back energized by their witness.
The amazing team included Dan McNeill, David Richardson, Leslie Burton, Jeanette Winfield, Park Dougherty, Martha Dougherty, Susalee Sasser and Linda Soutter. They were more than amazing in their work, their grace, their witness, they blessed everyone they encountered in Burundi, including me.
Thank you, St. Michael’s for supporting the work in Burundi, in prayer, and in gifts. Your gifts support the vision, and your prayers were felt, every day in every way.
Dave and Linda Soutter