Replacing Rusted Roofs in Burundi
Since the Wesleyan Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo started in 1994, it already has 10 districts, 61 churches and a mission outreach to Cameroon. The ministry is growing quickly with new churches being planted almost every month. Many of these congregations are creative enough to make their own bricks to build their church. But two of their biggest challenges are a lack of money to purchase a piece of land to build their church, and they cannot afford to put a good roof on their buildings due to the high price of tin. Good roofs are also necessary to handle months of rain and the occasional hurricane.
When a request was received from Burundi for new tins to replace old and rusted roofs, Carl Gilles, Global Partners facilitator of church development and growth for Francophone countries, and his wife Maya, missionary with Francophone ministries, wanted to help by organizing a project to raise funds. Carl recently made a trip to Burundi this past October to encourage the church and to learn what it would take to facilitate the expansion of the Wesleyan ministries there and beyond.
After a long journey, I finally arrived in Burundi to spend time with a few churches. Once I arrived, I was received by a welcoming team of three pastors and a driver, followed by a copious meal at Pastor Pierre’s house, which had been prepared by his wife, Pastor Cornalie.
The next day, we headed out to make short visits to the Wesleyan churches around Bujumbura, the capital city. The purpose was to meet the pastors for encouragement, visit the churches and to see the work that was done with tin purchased few months prior.
Most of these church leaders are not formally paid for their ministry service. They make incredible sacrifices to serve God through the Wesleyan organization because they believe in the Wesleyan vision and theological approach. Additionally, many of these congregations worship in very poor conditions, often meeting in a mud-building with a rusty tin-roof full of holes – making this tin purchase a wonderful blessing.
As we approached the first church, I could hear great singing accompanied with drums coming out of a small mud-building, in the middle of an open field. When I entered the small building, on one side was a mixed group of women and children worshiping and dancing. On the other side were three men clapping. It was a one-room building no bigger than 20’x30’, with two doors and no windows. The roof was a mix of old and new tin overlapping, many of which had holes. After a time of great worship where different groups performed special songs, the pastor spoke to welcome me and on behalf of the church, thanked those who sent money to replace some of the rusted tin on their roof. I was then asked, not only to bring a word of greetings, but to preach. Little did I know that was just my first of three sermons for the day.
The next two churches were on the mountain side of the city. In each, I was received with great enthusiasm and I quickly joined their great time of worship. They too received tins, but only enough to replace those that were falling apart. At that time, I understood that the money they received would have been enough to buy tins to finish two good roofs; but instead, the tins were divided among all six churches because they were all in need.
In African culture, sharing is more valued than what we westerners consider as “efficiency.” Yet, I wonder what it would take to make both “sharing” and “efficiency” happen. I wonder how we can make their joy complete by joining them in their effort to make their house of worship a welcoming place for all?
Thank you to all who have been supporting this project prayerfully and financially – you are making a real difference. This project is currently still open. Would you consider donating funds to provide tin roofs for these African churches?