It’s a rare honor when a man from another culture trusts you enough to tell you the truth. After eight days in Burundi, four sessions of intensive mentoring, and more than two hours of in-depth honest feedback and dreaming about next steps, Francis honored my colleagues and me with the truth. Most Westerners have made him feel ignorant.
What a profound week it was with men and women in this pain-wracked nation of beautiful people. Theirs has been a legacy of colonialism, poverty, genocide and witchcraft. During our time in Burundi the world commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Hutu-Tutsi warfare that resulted in 800,000 deaths in the first 100 hours, then lasted another 12 years. Read that last sentence again and let it sink in.
That legacy is changing and Peregrine is honored to contribute a part by teaching ten gifted men from Life Center Church of Bujumbura our perspective of the answer to the question: “What does it mean to be a man of God?” For a timeline of photos and lessons please click on the Men Matter Facebook page.
“Six of her children were stacked on top of each other like logs, and a soldier drove a machete through all of their heads. Then they raped her while making her oldest daughter watch. They made the mother survive.”
This is one of the stories told me by Peace, an angel of a Burundi woman who restores deeply wounded women to health. The horror and grief these women have known can barely be put to words. Yet for a week our team of men (including the Peregrine board chairman) and women heard one woman after another weep with grief then sing with praise at God’s utterly miraculous redemption of their lives.
More women than we could recount said virtually the same words, beaming with joy, “I was garbage. Now I’m beautiful because I am God’s daughter!” And then burst into unbridled dancing. Click here to see what that looks like.
On Sunday I had the amazing opportunity of preaching to 1500 members at Life Center and reminded them that they “have this treasure in jars of clay.” No matter their outward circumstances, every one of them is filled with a treasure of “all-surpassing power.” (2 Cor. 4:7) It was a very moving experience for me.
This was my second trip to Burundi, partnering with a sister ministry called Tirzah International. It won’t be the last. The leaders of the church have told us how valuable our teaching for the men has been. One of them, Sante, said pounding his chest with passion, “We have received your teaching, we will keep it and we will give it away!” Yves, a professional interpreter will translate the study guide I wrote into Burundi and French and they have asked me to return for more teaching.
Thank you to the dozens of you who gave quickly and generously so that my expenses were fully covered. You were there with me, and with these Burundi men and women. They asked me to pass their gratitude on to you. Thank you, friends!
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.