Cyriak was not only living as a vagrant, he had lost his mind. When he saw our team coming towards him, he became incensed and promptly smashed the leader’s face in, the latter needing hospital treatment. The rest of the team didn’t retreat in fear, however, but prayed for him until he was completely delivered and healed. He’d been planning to burn his father’s house down. They hadn't spoken in years. Now instead he ran to find his father, hugged him, and they were reconciled. His parents had divorced years before, but he was used to bring them back together. Stunning!
That was 2014. Six years on, he now manages a farm belonging to friends of mine. He’s scrupulously honest, and growing the business. He’s leading people to Jesus and is a great role model. His is one of many stories that came out of the last 15 years of our annual summer national outreach with Harvest Initiatives involving 100's of young people.
Around 170,000 have come to Christ over that time, a mind-blowing statistic. But behind each statistic there are precious individual life-stories like Cyriak’s - or Thierry’s:
Thierry was a drug-addict on the streets. He met Jesus through a Harvest outreach a few years ago, was set free from his addiction, and resolved to make better choices. He resumed his studies, got a degree, and ended up working at our conference centre, where I’d see him daily, as my office was there. He’s now set up his own business, is married, and has two children.
Normally at this time of year, I’d be asking you to pray as we send out another 700 people for 2 weeks of bold intentional outreach. Sadly, because of the coronavirus, it’s not happening. I know many of you wonder about whether the fruit of those outreaches lasts. Clearly some fall away, but many hold firm, like Cyriak and Thierry.
There are so many more great stories that could be told; let me sneak one last one in: Suzanne had been in bed for two years, and had spent all the family’s wealth on witchdoctors, desperately seeking a cure for her mystery illness. Our guys came to her, prayed over her, and she was healed. Her whole family became believers as a result.
So although there’s no specific national Harvest outreach taking place in Burundi in 2020, our partners and many other wonderful people are reaching out daily into their communities, as the nation goes through intense challenges, heightened by the devastating economic impact of Covid-19. I love that we have trained so many people to be part of the transformation of the nation. Every day more and more lives are being impacted for good.
Thanks so much for praying for Burundi and for all our fantastic partners. We couldn't do our work without you.
I just wanted to share these beautiful stories to lift our spirits as we are bombarded by so much bad news at the moment. Be encouraged!