Burundi is a country of 12 million people to the south of Uganda and Rwanda. The Anglican Church of Burundi was started in 1935 by the Church Missionary Society and Ugandan and Rwandan missionaries. It is known for standing on three pillars : evangelism, medical services and education.
Bishop Seth Ndayirukiye .
The Church, now numbering about 1million members, has been able to grow and make an impact from its foundation up to today because of the influence and fruits of the East African Revival Movement. This movement emphasises the love of God and love of one another, salvation, walking in the light with one another, and staying in fellowship as brethren.
The Anglican Church has been involved in building up Burundi in many ways in response to the different challenges caused by many years of instability and civil war.
The Church has been able to contribute through the following major activities :
1. Preaching the word of God
In-season and out-of-season preaching the word of God has been the main activity, as Jesus Christ Himself recommended in the Great Commission – to go and teach and baptise people. The Church has been doing that mission such that there has been growth both in numbers and spirituality. The Church covers the whole country in nine dioceses led by bishops, pastors, and lay ministers. The Church has been preaching a message of hope, love and unity, inviting Jesus Christ to come and reign in the hearts of His believers .
2. Prayer and witness
Prayer ministry is very important in the life of the Church. Jesus Himself taught his disciples to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. Prayer has been a uniting force, communicating love and care Our Book of Common Prayer has prayers for the Church, the country, and brothers and sisters facing many challenges .
The power of prayer helps Christians to be faithful witnesses to the love of God for His creation and to love for one another .
3. Good works in the community
Another important activity the Church has been doing ever since its beginning is building schools to support the government to provide quality education. Since the time of the missionaries, the Church has built many schools, primary and secondary. Recently, the Anglican Church of Burundi started Bujumbura Christian University, with a Faculty of Theology. Other faculties will be started very soon. This is a contri-bution whereby many students will be able to study in a university with a Christian environment.
4. Contribution to reconciliation
The Church has been involved in accom-panying the country in a peace process and teaching Christian values of peace, love, rec-onciliation, forgiveness, mutual support and unity. This has helped the various commun-ities understand that violence does not help at all, but being in peace with God and one another is paramount. Reconciling with God through leaving hatred and embracing love and peace brings reconciliation between one another. This has had an important impact: Christians had to embrace one another and forgive one another under the power of Jesus and His word, which alone can change yes-terday’s enemies to today’s friends. Teaching Christian values continues, and building the hearts of the people who have been hurt requires a continuing process, which is the work of the Church. This brings in the work of advocating for others in many ways and whenever necessary .
5. Empowering women
The Church realises that women are in large numbers in both the country and the Church, and that empowering women means empowering families and communities. The Church has been involved in adult education and financial education as well, so that those educated can join others in associations to develop their families and the communities around them. Testimonies have been given that they have been helped.
Women are able to send letters to their friends and develop their own business, because they know how to write and count. They can also read the Bible and be in fellow-ship with others.
However, some challenges still remain for the growth of the Church and peace in the country.
First, the political instability and the eco-nomic challenges keep many people unstable. Many have left the country to become refu-gees in many other countries .
Secondly, much preaching, prayer, and transformation of communities is still needed as we move toward elections next year. Pray that Christians will be faithful to the word, witness to the power of Jesus Christ and do not get involved in conflict and hatred.
First published in Evangelicals Now July 2019