The Prodigal Preacher

The Prodigal Preacher

If you can’t forgive me, I’m ready to be punished. Either way, please allow me to stay by your side.

If you can’t forgive me, I’m ready to be punished. Either way, please allow me to stay by your side.

Jean trembled as he met with Onesphore. With every ounce of humility he could muster, he said, “I know I was wrong. I want to be forgiven – but if you can’t forgive me, I’m ready to be punished. Either way, please allow me to stay by your side.”

After years of serving together with Harvest Initiatives, Onesphore thought he had a good relationship with Jean, until he suddenly stopped hearing from him. Jean had connected with a preacher with false, unbiblical views and persuaded him to cut ties. Jean grew zealous for this worldview, so much so that he later tried to persuade Onesphore. 

Surprised to hear from Jean after such a long time, Onesphore wasted no time in asking, ‘How can you live with that guy?!’ Jean tried hard to convince Onesphore, but to no avail. Rather, his counter-arguments forced Jean to reexamine the teachings he had been promoting. As Jean reflected, he realised “I knew I was stuck in my faith and my calling.”

Antioch worked with 45 churches, with
over 1400 beneficiaries last year!

By this time, Onesphore had pioneered Antioch Foundation and its programmes aimed at church leaders and members to equip them with a sound Biblical understanding. Because of limited Biblical resources, false teaching abounds in Burundi, especially for poverty-stricken people, who are susceptible to promises of easy wealth and health. Onesphore invited Jean to participate in the course, which had a huge impact. “I didn’t need to tell him to leave the false teacher; he understood he needed to. The teaching helped him catch the vision of the church.”

After they reconciled, Jean was a new man! He planted a house church of a dozen people, which eventually grew into a small congregation. Three years on, it has grown to over 200 people!

We heard this story whilst sitting at the offices of Antioch Foundation on a visit to Burundi, with Onesphore and Jean telling their respective sides of the story. Jean shared his joy at how far he had come, and his current prayer request of a building for their thriving church. Onesphore turned to Jean and said, “He doesn’t know this yet, but Jean, we have found two-thirds of the funding you need for your building.”

At the news of that amazing answered prayer, applause broke out in the room! Jean simply bowed his head, moved to tears. It was a beautiful moment, and a privilege to witness. Bearing good news is a beautiful perk of our work. As another key leader commented when he received much-needed funding he had been praying for, “you have lifted a 10,000kg weight off my shoulders”. 

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