After a last-minute go-ahead, the Harvest Initiatives annual summer evangelism returned after last year’s campaign was forced to cancel due to coronavirus. As ever, there have been a load of encouraging stories of powerful transformation, here is an initial selection for your encouragement. Thank you for your prayers over the past two weeks, and do continue to pray for lasting change for those who have come to know Christ.
‘No Power of Hell…Can Ever Pluck Me From His Hand’
Alivera Kambanda, 45 years old and living in Bugabira, northernmost Burundi, has attended the local Protestant church for years.
But Alivera had a dark, long held secret: whilst faithfully attending the church, she also practised witchcraft, and has come to a point where she was preparing to be ‘ordained’ as a witch.
When the Harvest Initiatives evangelists visited her, Alivera listened to the gospel attentively, and she ended up truly welcoming Christ as her Saviour.
After receiving Christ, Alivera revealed the truth about her dark paths to the evangelists: “In a couple of days, other witchdoctors were due to come to my house and give me the power to become one of them,” reveals Alivera. She had bought the sorghum seeds intended for the induction ceremony. But the evangelists prayed over her and burned the seeds.
“The power of Jesus has just touched me. I no longer want to become a witchdoctor,” said a smiling Alivera.
Witchcraft has a powerful hold in rural Burundi, so give thanks for the redemption of Alivera, and pray for many more in similar positions to hear the good news and follow the light of Christ!
From Reluctance to Repentance
The Harvest Initiatives’ Mukike Evangelism team was filled with praise and worship after a successful day of evangelism outreach, 50 miles south of Bujumbura.
For the past week, at least 20 young men and women wake up every morning, separate themselves into teams of two or three, knock on strangers’ doors throughout the neighbourhood, and preach the Gospel. People as young as 16-years-old are among this group of street evangelists.
“For the past couple of days, we’ve reached 367 people. Among those, 172 gave their lives to Christ, and the Holy Spirit particularly touched 50 of them,” said Gedeon, the team leader.
They ask for prayer support as they share the gospel with the most resistant people. “Some days, we have to pray for our strength so that we won’t be discouraged. Most of the households and people we approach don’t want to listen to us.”
Etienne shared with us how he was on the verge of giving up, before a miraculous breakthrough: “I’m still in awe of what happened. Yesterday I met an old lady who could barely walk due to a broken leg. She told me she hadn’t walked properly for many years. She reluctantly accepted prayer for healing. Today, I met her again. As she walked by herself, unaided and restored, she asked me to pray for her again, but this time, for her salvation.
A Cord of Three Strands
Annick and Gerard met in the Evangelism Outreach back in 2006 and they have been evangelising together ever since!
Even though we left our two kids at home with the helper and our café business to our employees, we still felt compelled to do God’s work.
“We miss our children tremendously. We call them every day. But we don’t regret coming here at all because we know we are expanding the Kingdom of God,” revealed Annick.
My Lord and My God
Hussain is a young man from a Muslim background, and he was among the first people approached on the first day of the outreach by the Cankuzo evangelism team, working in the eastern corner of Burundi, led by Eric.
“The moment I started talking, he turned me down. He said he didn’t want to hear anything about Jesus,” recounts Eric.
“On the second day when we passed by his shop, I approached him. This time, he was willing to talk, and he said Jesus is not God but merely human. I told him that Jesus was both. We talked a little bit more.” Although Muslims view Jesus as a prophet, they do not regard Him as God.
“I knew something had changed. I was about to pray for him, but he was reluctant.
On the third day, I passed by his shop again. This time he approached me, trying to prove that Jesus is not God. I could sense that he was searching for the truth, but he was struggling in his heart. I sat with him for more than 30 minutes. He started weeping and that’s when I could see the Holy Spirit convicted him. He knelt down in his shop and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Broken but Mended
Nyabenda Fidele, 45 years old, lived in misery and loneliness on the Mihigo hill in Busiga Ngozi Province, the northern part of Burundi. His life became utterly miserable over five years ago when everything he owned burned down due to the market in Kayanza catching fire.
Fidele had been a successful businessman. He traded goods around the country, and sometimes he would even cross borders to do business in neighbouring countries. “I would illegally trade goods because I didn’t want to pay taxes”, recalls Fidele. “It was the second time my goods got burned in the market. A year before, I had three shops in another market, and they all perished when that market caught fire. But I had some money saved up which allowed me to open up a small shop in Kayanza market.”
After the tragedy of the market fires, Fidele had no other source of income. He soon fell ill, his legs started swelling, and he was hospitalized for over a year. ” I felt like there was a curse on me for all the bad things I had done”, said Fidele.
Upon returning home after a long absence, he found it was deserted. His wife and kids had left and his house was destroyed. Still weak and recovering from his foot surgery, he couldn’t support himself. An acquaintance took pity on him and gave him a small place to live.
For the 2021 evangelism outreach, the outreach team at Busiga were hosted by a pastor living near Fidele’s tiny house. When Eliya, one of the evangelists, saw Fidele sitting alone, he approached him and noticed he couldn’t walk due to jigger parasites in his feet.
Without hesitation, Eliya took a needle and started removing them. “I knew God had sent me here for a reason. Seeing Fidele suffer touched my heart. And this was a way to show him God’s love”, said Eliya.
“It was my first time in a long time to see people showing me love,” Fidele testified. “They cleaned me up, gave me clothes and food. I felt like I was living ‘the good Samaritan’ story”. Fidele received Christ as his Saviour. For the rest of the outreach, he joined the evangelists every evening as they shared God’s Word. “I’m sad that our journey will come to an end soon, but I will never forget the good deeds you have done for me” said Fidele to Eliya.
Fidele feels surrounded and cared for. He hopes to recover and start his business again. His prayer is to get back with his wife and kids.