I find it so annoying, having to wait in line. Especially in this part of the world. Even with Covid and all the publicity that social distancing has had, no one has been able to fully embrace the idea of standing 1-2 meters apart. There are no organized lines anywhere. When in “line” to be served, it is not unusual for you to find yourself still waiting hours later only to be told to come back tomorrow. Banks are madhouses and the traffic, well, I find myself praying deep intercessory prayers when driving. Bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, minibuses, tuk-tuks (a 3-wheeled vehicle with room for two passengers) and more clog the streets.
Life here in our part of the world calls for lots of patience.
Patient in Pain
I find Africans to be the most patient people in the world. With the difficulties that they face day after day, year after year, they manage to carry on. This entire region (the Great Lakes Region) has struggled for generations. It has been starved of peace, security and prosperity for as long as I have lived in Africa (June will mark 34 years). They have waited patiently through it all.
…and they are still waiting.
Prior to Covid, we faced hunger here in Burundi. According to the World Food Program, over 65% of this nation lives in poverty and more than 50% of the population is food insecure. Imagine one out of every two of people you meet randomly in your city not knowing how they were going to eat that day. There is little help here; NGOs shun the region and the nation struggles to feed its people. You may ask why is it so difficult? The reasons are varied and too complicated for me to even describe. Coupled with the advent of the pandemic, life has become untenable for most of Burundi.
Sadly, people are hungry, some of them to the point of death, and they’re still waiting.
Little is Much
With the help of generous partners like Hand of Hope and other friends and loved ones, during the past year we have been able to feed hundreds of families. Because we’re in a landlocked country whose borders have been closed for most of this pandemic, amassing large quantities of food to distribute has been challenging. Coupled with food shortages, it is almost impossible. But by God’s grace, we’ve been able to get it done.
I’d like to say that the work has been flawless, but that is not the case. We have faced attempted theft, threats and the pain of having to say, “the food is finished.” It has been challenging to say the least, but I wouldn’t trade a day of what we have been doing for all the pampering in the world. And just like many other women, I love me a good pedicure…but even a pedicure doesn’t compare to the joy of seeing someone’s face when receiving a food package.
Thankfully our people are patient. This past month we brought in families receiving packages by bus and local transport (yes, even bajajs were used). We prepared everyone’s packages beforehand: 18 kilos of rice, 15 kilos of beans, 5 kilos of porridge flour, 2 kilos of salt, 1 liter of oil and 10 bars of soap. It was a massive undertaking. The distribution alone took three full days to complete, but we somehow got it done.
When the people arrived, we sat them down, prayed for them and gave them their parcels. Because many were elderly and weak, our team accompanied them home and delivered their food all the way to their homes. Many came in wearing the only clothes they had, but as they came in, they were singing.
No One Expected This
As the people saw what they were being given, many were overwhelmed. The image I set at the top is of a woman so overwhelmed by the gift, all she could do was bury her face in her hands and cry. Others stood and gave thanks and we gave thanks with them. The only difference between our team and those who we were feeding was where life had placed us. Had any of us been born in a different circumstance, we could have easily been the ones needing the assistance.
Waiting for the Kingdom
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, but he had not agreed with the decision and actions fo the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the kingdom of God to come.Luke 23:50-51
In the above verses we read about Joseph who was waiting for the Kingdom of God. It didn’t come as he had expected it; but he recognized it when he saw Jesus. If, in our insufficient effort to help these people we have brought God’s Kingdom to them, it has been well worth it. For in helping them, we saw God’s Kingdom.
What is striking when working in outreach is the fact that the need is never-ending. The hunger is ongoing and hope for a better tomorrow, impossible. Even so, there remains the need to do what we can. If we excuse ourselves from serving because the need is greater than our capacity, our excuse is a poor one. While we might not be able to do everything, we can do something.
Just do something and you will see His Kingdom come.