Burundi or Bust!
Several months ago, Christine and I sat in church--I was people watching, listening to the music while she was reading through bulletin. She interrupted one of my favorite pastimes to show me an announcement about an upcoming short term missions trip to Burundi. She said, "maybe we could be part of a sending team for this trip!" I thought for a moment and leaned back over a dryly suggested, "Or you could go on the trip." She was lost for the rest of the service. Mind racing. And that's how we started our journey to Burundi.
At first, I was cautious about commiting or even getting excited about the prospect. I was well into my 10 months of unemployment--with no end in sight. I couldn't imagine taking such a trip under those financial conditions. And if by chance I actually rejoined the working world, I wasn't optimistic of being able to take 2 weeks in June to go to Africa. Fast forward a couple of months and BAM...I get a new job with enough vacation to take 2 weeks in June. So, Burundi or bust!!!!!
"Why," you might be wondering "would we be going to Burundi?" Contrary to your presumption, we are not going to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary at an all-inclusive resort! We are joining a team of people who are all part of our church. Mars Hill Bible Church has made a long term commitment to the region of East Africa, which currently includes initiatives in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other countries may be added down the road, but these are the current and ongoing relationships. With help and guidance from World Relief, we will join the local church in serving this country as the hands and feet of God. These are the ways we desire to incarnate the embracing grace of Christ in two very short weeks...
1. HIV/AIDS--one of our primary goals will be to work alongside local youth pastors to lead retreats that will teach young Burundians about this deadly pandemic. We will share the truth about this disease, dispel myths about how it is contracted or how one can be healed from it, and teach about preventative measures.
2. We will spend a day or two getting first hand experience of micro-finance at work in Burundi. Mars Hill has committed to increading the income of the poorest 30% of the economically active in Burundi, primarily through micro-finance initiatives.
3. Finally, we will do whatever World Relief discerns we can lean into. These things are likely to be determined closer to the trip date as they spend time getting more familiar with the particularities of our team--building, serving in orphanages, etc.
Over the next several weeks, I will be chronicling our preparation for this trip. But in addition to narrating the latest and greatest, I'd like to engage with some of the difficult questions that surround this kind of trip.
I'd love to hear your questions...here are a few to get you started...
- Does it make sense to send 12 people at 3G's apiece for a mere 2 weeks? Woudn't there be greater impact if we just sent the 36K to Burundi?
- Is it irresponsible for a mother or father to leave their kids at home for 2 weeks while they go to Africa? Isn't parenting their primary mission right now?
- There is plenty of work that can be done in the US in regards to HIV/AIDS and helping the poor. Why should we send 12 people to a country that they will likely never go back to?