Simon Guillebaud’s Blog
Our founder Simon Guillebaud has his own blog at simonguillebaud.com. On this page we feature a selection of his posts related to GLO and our projects. Simon also posts biblical encouragement, sermons and reflections on current affairs.
If you’d like to read all of Simon’s posts connect with him below.
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I love these stories! We get bombarded with so much bad news in general, that all the more I see it as part of our job at GLO to tell inspiring tales of overcoming. Meet Divine:
She was an orphan living in Nyanza lac in the South of Burundi. She was married young to a boy who mistreated her, indeed whose family rejected her and maligned her such that she preferred to flee to the streets. She was left with no other apparent option other than to sell her body to survive.
That was five years ago.
Just a few months back, she came across the work of our partner Together for Development (TfD). She got trained up in sewing. She discovered that she had value, that God loved her, and wanted a healthy pure relationship with her.
What a transformation!
She is such a dynamo that she now organises a self-help group of 30 ladies. She’s led 15 of them to Jesus, and 12 of them out of prostitution. Each Wednesday she meets with them to share God’s Word and encourage them through life’s trials.
Ephraim, leader of TfD, visited her two weeks ago, and she said to him: “I don’t have any family – no brother, no sister – you became my family, don’t abandon me.” He won’t, and in the meantime gave her a chicken! Here he is filming her and translating some of her testimony.
Love it! Go Divine! Thank you Lord!
Earlier this summer, I asked for prayers for our huge team of evangelists during their two-week summer outreach campaign, and the results and stories are in. As promised, here’s what happened. First, the stats:
Amazing! And there were other stories of marriages being restored, suicidal attempts thwarted or abandoned, community reconciliation and more.
So here are a few of the many stories – all I can say is ‘Wow!’ and ‘Praise God!’ Enjoy the snapshots:
Goretti had been paralysed for three years. The team visited and prayed for her. She was healed, and straightaway gave her life to Jesus. Six of her family members and five neighbours also came to Christ on the back of witnessing her healing!
Éric and Aline had travelled 35km to consult a powerful sorcerer. Our team interacted with the trio, who were each deeply convicted. They renounced witchcraft, gave their lives to Jesus and did away with all their paraphernalia!
A poor 48-year-old widow in Gahombo had been blind for ten years. She was prayed for, healed, gave her life to Jesus and returned to her home where seven neighbours were blown away at her miraculous healing and likewise chose to follow Jesus, amidst huge rejoicing!
Makobero had been a witch doctor for sixty years. Having encountered the evangelists, he felt convicted and converted; at that point, six of his family also decided to follow Jesus, whilst he burnt all his idols!
22-year-old Désiré was seen by the whole community as a madman wandering around. When the evangelists visited his family, his parents said they’d only listen to the gospel if the team prayed for Désiré first and showed them God’s power. When he was healed, 31 people gave their lives to Jesus in response!
Sylvère had dropped out of school in 2018 because of mental ill-health or demons (read his full story here) – demons is what the parents believed. He ran around the community in a crazed state until he was forcibly locked up and sedated. His parents tried both recognised medicine and witchcraft potions, but things only got worse. But then, a few weeks ago, his father Jacques met a friend who advised him to go to a nearby church, where he had heard of an evangelistic outreach taking place.
“I was exhausted on that day. The doctors had told me there was nothing left to do for my son but take him home. I felt hopeless and had already given up. My wife encouraged me to give it one last try and take him to that church. I was very reluctant. I had heard many stories of people whom churches had scammed.
When we got to the church, we were greeted by a group of evangelists who were praying. They immediately started praying for my son. While praying, my son screamed and shouted and moved hysterically. The more he yelled, the more they prayed.
Suddenly, he stopped moving. One of the evangelists talked to Sylvere and asked him a question, to which he responded verbally. I was in awe. It was the first time hearing my son speak for three years. I fell to my knees and immediately repented.”
Ten members of his extended family gave their lives to the Lord and burnt all their charms.
Thanks so much for your prayers, I have no doubt they played a huge role!
I hope you are encouraged. It’s our 17th year of doing this, and we’ll be back at it next year.
Yesterday we got to meet with Macaire – this story is as good as it gets!
When he was 12-years-old, he contracted polio. He was taken to several hospitals but his legs shrivelled up and he was left disabled.
Language can be harsh sometimes. There are different cases in Kirundi. The ‘people’ class begins with ‘umu’, so ‘umuzungu’ is a white person, ‘umugore’ is a woman, ‘umusore’ is a young man, etc. The ‘thing’ class begins with ‘iki’, indeed ‘ikintu’ means a thing. And so Macaire aged 12 stopped being an ‘umuhungu’ (boy) and became an ‘ikimuga’ (cripple). Thankfully there are now efforts to stop using that word – people now use ‘umuntu agendana ubumuga’ which means ‘a person with disability’ – but it illustrates how disabled folk have been generally marginalised, rejected, and dishonoured.
Yet, although Macaire was a victim of polio, he is no life victim!
He always said he didn’t want to resort to begging, and he ended up training as a tailor. What he soon discovered, however, was that running a bar was more lucrative. He’d hire girls to draw in men, and business was thriving. He was so charming that, in spite of his disability, one of those young ladies called Dallia agreed to marry him – even though it could have meant she would bear no children. As it happens, though, they now have six children together, and another six grandchildren so far!
Dallia came to faith first and prayed for Macaire. When he was radically converted, he knew he had to leave his drunken ways behind, close the bar, and lose his main source of income. He started praying for people and many of them got healed. Word got around, and people flocked to his house. This was during the war when there were rebel movements and any unusual gatherings were treated with suspicion. So many people came to his house that he started planning morning and afternoon sessions.
One day, the authorities came and arrested him. He was put in prison with three other pastors. The latter were released when they signed a document saying they’d stop those meetings. But Macaire refused: “I’m doing God’s work. Whilst others are killing, I’m praying with people and being used to heal the sick. I cannot sign!” So they kept him in prison. Then the Governor came and ordered him to stop those meetings. He replied: “Sir, I will sign that paper on condition you agree that when you die and you come before God, you will tell him that you were the one who stopped Macaire’s work!”
At that, the Governor baulked! Instead, he encouraged Macaire to register a new church and helped him in the process. A couple of decades later, Macaire has planted 23 churches!
All those years, he either walked on his hands, or rode a modified tricycle pedalling with his arms. He’s getting older now, and ten years ago announced that he was praying for a car. That was so unlikely, because he lives upcountry and has a very simple life. But his grandchildren and children joined him in that most unlikely of prayer requests.
I sat with Macaire in his house. We had come up to visit and film him, but it was too dark inside. The house has a mud floor and mudbricks. Yet here he’d started a Bible school in it, and he himself was one of the first eighteen students to get degree-level accreditation through Nation-2-Nation Christian University. You’ll find it hard to believe, but our local partner UCCD now runs over 200 such Bible schools around the country, churning out thousands of graduates with internationally-recognised qualifications. Beautiful!
Macaire graduated a few months ago. As he walked (on his hands) to the front before a rapturous crowd to receive his diploma, visiting GLO trustee Lacey was struck by his dignity and grace. She wondered what his story was. And the Lord spoke to her about a need Macaire had in his personal life. When she heard about his persevering, believing prayer for a vehicle, she knew that she was to be the answer in this case.
So here he is now, in his own car, with his grandson Gilbert as his driver – Gilbert, who listened to his grandpa’s declaration a decade previously that the Lord would give him a car to prolong his ministry!
His legs might be shrivelled, but Macaire’s soul continues to soar. “God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!” And Macaire’s journey with Jesus continues, now on four wheels!
There are a few reasons why Innocent is the skinniest healthy guy I know. His stories are nuts. Read on…
He realised as a young man that he had the gift of healing. On one occasion, he prayed for a hunchback who had been bent over for 18 years. The man immediately straightened up, and piled him high with avocadoes in gratitude!
Another time, he was leading one of our Harvest Initiatives outreach teams, and they were taking a lunch break after the Sunday service. Two non-verbal (the currently PC term, I gather, for someone who can’t speak) girls asked him to pray for their healing. He left his team members eating, led the two girls into a room, and said to God: “Lord, even if I have to stay here three days, I won’t give up praying until you heal them!” Actually, within ten minutes they’d started crying audibly, and were indeed completely healed. He took them to the choir practice, and said: “Hey, I’ve got you two new choir members!” The head chorister said: “Don’t mess us around, we know those girls are mute!” Innocent turned to the girls: “Did you hear what he said? Anything you want to tell him?” They opened their mouths and started singing a worship song! Three of the choir members fell to their knees whilst others gasped and burst into tears! The two hadn’t said a word in over a decade.
However, he says it comes at a cost. He fasts two days a week, and sometimes for much longer. “It’s tiring digging deep in the Spirit and seeking God’s face, there is a real battle going on. And I come from a relatively well-off family. My Mum and sisters are fat (fat is good in the culture, not an insult at all!). I’m the skinny one. When I used to go into the bush on my evangelistic outings, I ate rubbish and had lots of stomach issues. They don’t believe in Jesus, and so don’t understand why I’m willing to suffer so much. Once they said to me, ‘You’re so skinny, we’re going to tie you up so you don’t go back upcountry!’”
He gets no encouragement or support from home. He’s getting married to Khelia on the 20th November, and his salary is only $60/month, which is ridiculous considering the amazing work he’s doing in raising up young school kids as leaders to fulfil their potential. The family has said: “Well, if you want to go ahead with the wedding, we’re not helping you, let’s see your God provide!” Indeed, He will.
Purpose Discovery is the name of the organisation Innocent started. It’s all about helping young people discover and embrace their purpose in life. His vision is that of an emerging generation on fire for God transforming their communities through their respective spheres of influence – sounds good to me – which is why we’re backing him as one of our new key strategic leaders.
If anyone wants to connect with Innocent, or help make the wedding day a stunning testimony of God’s provision, message me and I’d love to share this friend with you! I’ll post his wedding picture in a few weeks’ time.
Update: a huge thanks to all those who generously donated towards Innocent’s wedding, it was a wonderful occasion! Photos can be seen here.
Things would have looked very different if Chrissie had died when the doctors said she would.
Decades ago, she was dying and had been given six months to live. She was partially paralysed, bald, her whole body was swollen ‘like a Michelin-Man’, and she had two wrecked lungs. On her hospital bed, she heard an audible voice: “It’s time to go home; I am going to heal you!”
She was allowed out of the hospital some weekends. One weekend, back in her apartment and resting on her beanbag, she believed she was dying but then suddenly felt painful pins and needles in her head. She put her hand to her head and felt bristles on her scalp. Her hair was growing back!
She picked up her Bible, and a piece of paper fell out of it, with 1 Peter 2:24 written on it – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’.” It turns out her pastor had prayed that verse over her for 6 weeks whilst she was on a life-support machine, and he’d put it in her Bible.
By the following morning, she had a full head of hair, her paralysis and swollenness had gone, and her breathing was fine (indeed, she never again had an asthma attack). She returned to the hospital, and when her doctor saw her and reached out to touch her full head of hair, he fell to his knees speaking in tongues. He wasn’t even a Christian! That week, 17 hospital staff who knew what she was suffering from gave their lives to Christ in response to her evident miraculous healing!
What do you make of that?
Chrissie Chapman died a few days ago. She was a truly remarkable woman. In her death, I want to do two things: give you the opportunity to be stirred by her quite extraordinary faith journey, and contribute to her legacy.
So if you want to hear more crazy stories like the one above, why not listen to this talk she gave four years ago (different to the one I posted on Facebook). I would genuinely say it’s one of the most powerful talks I’ve ever heard.
Following her healing, Chrissie pursued a clear call to serve the Lord in Burundi. She wrote her Burundi story in ‘The Night the Angels Came’, which you can buy here.
So that’s the first thing, and it’ll bless your socks off if you listen to that talk or read her book. Now the second thing – an opportunity to contribute to her legacy:
As she joked, she was a single mother with 54 children, all from different fathers! To be clear, she wasn’t spectacularly fertile and promiscuous; rather, she’d taken in 54 precious, vulnerable lives! In turn, those infants needed schooling, so she started what is now called the King’s School in Bujumbura, which now has 714 kids in the student body.
All of the original 54 are now over 18-years-old. Several of them babysat for us and became our good friends. Some have been through university and have found jobs, but for about ten of them, their studies are still ongoing. During Chrissie’s latter years, a significant concern for her quite naturally was finding sponsors to see them all through. Yet as things stand, there is a shortfall.
In brief, would you like to honour Chrissie as she graduates to glory by helping the remaining students to finish their studies, and to contribute to the replacement of the 12-year-old(!) dying computers in the King’s School’s ICT lab, and other such needs, as the King’s School was a key part of her legacy?
This is not a GLO project per se, but our DNA is to bless transformational Kingdom initiatives in Burundi, which this most certainly is. If you do want to help, God bless you. You can contribute here. (If you would prefer to give in US$, please click here)
One of my favourite stories that Chrissie shared was of her encounter with an old man in a miserable displacement camp during the war. He was sat with an empty bowl in prayer. She went over to see him and asked him his story. He was in his seventies. He’d witnessed his wife and kids hacked to death, and his house burned down. He’d walked six days to get to the camp. Sat there in his stinking rags with that empty bowl… that was all he was in the whole world. Yet he was able to declare:
“I never realised that Jesus was all I needed until Jesus was all I had!”
What. A. Line!
Chrissie, we salute you! We’ll all, by God’s grace, see you again sooner or later. In the meantime, let’s live our lives to the full, making the most of it in service of the King!