If ever a year threw a curve ball, it would be 2020.
My list of goals for the year is now in file 13 (the trash) while I wonder what tomorrow’s news will bring.
Here where we live, in the nation of Burundi, we have thus far avoided a full-scale lockdown. While Covid19 is in the country and the airport and borders are closed, life has proceeded almost as if there were no pandemic. There are handwashing stations at every business and church and just last week the local authorities began to encourage social distancing in meetings. While walking in town, you may see the odd face mask but by and large, people are going about their daily lives because they have to. Most of Africa lives from day to day, meal to meal, and many reckon that the consequential hunger of lockdown would kill far more than Covid19 ever would. As it is, we already deal with typhus, typhoid, malaria, dysentery and Ebola; the sarcastic side of me says, “Covid19? Make my day!”
As the pandemic unfolded, the rains in this region of Africa were so severe that floods decimated the homes of thousands living in Burundi and in its neighboring countries of DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. We were able, through donations of partners and friends, to bring a little bit of relief to 200 families who had fled their homes during the floods. One of our church campuses housed 37 flood refugees for weeks; some have been able to return home in the past two weeks to rebuild their lives. As our city, Bujumbura, is set on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, many who lost their homes will not be able to return as the lake’s levels have risen due to the rains far beyond what most can remember leaving thousands effectively homeless.
On May 20th, presidential elections were held in Burundi and after a few days the winner was announced without incident. A few days later, the outgoing president suddenly passed away from ‘cardiac arrest.’ His wife, who had flown by emergency transport to Kenya for treatment for Covid19, was not with him when he died. She just returned a few days ago in time for his burial which we assume will be this week. We keep praying for peace as the newly elected president has yet to be sworn in. For those of you who don’t know why this would be such a tense moment in our history, Burundi has suffered through generations of war and unrest. We are praying that this would be the generation that would bring lasting peace.
If ever there was a time that people needed the Gospel, it would be now. I’m not talking about the status quo, “feel good” gospel or the “us against them” gospel or any other kind of gospel. What the world needs is the Gospel news is that there is hope for today and for ages yet to come (see Eph. 2:7). This short, tumultuous moment we call life is but a blip on the radar of eternity. If we can wrap our hearts around the truth of what’s to come, we can manage to make it through the upheaval of our present moment.
Romans 8:21-23 NKJ “because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”
We know that this “groaning” is but for a moment, but it is painful in the moment. May we have the presence of heart and spirit to wait eagerly for what we have already experienced in our hearts and not give in to the temptation to grow weary and fall into step with this world.
If ever we needed to make the difference in this world, to be salt and light, it would be now.