As the sun sets over the Msasani Peninsular we give thanks to God for safe travels and ponder the speed and efficiency of travel in today's world. From office to hotel, a direct distance of 14,115 km, or 21,250 kms via our 4 chosen airports. A journey that would have taken many weeks half a century ago took just 48 hours. However, as the sun sets in the western sky our thoughts and prayers turn to the people of Burundi in what is a very worrying time for them. We have just been told that all flights into and out of Burundi have been cancelled and its borders ordered closed.
Archdeacon Dell Bornowsky and myself are in Tanzania to meet with representatives from African and Canadian dioceses that share companion links. It is a conference designed to foster our relations and to strengthen our missional links. Originally the conference was organized to meet in Bujumbura, Burundi before the location was changed due to unrest at the run up to the countries elections in June. Bishop Paisible (diocese of Muyinga) and his predecessor, Bishop Eraste (diocese of Bujumbura), have sent word that they and the other church leaders from Burundi are unable to cross the border into Tanzania. Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza is stranded here in Dar es Salaam after attending talks between leaders of the East African Community (EAC). News of the coup in Burundi was reported in ‘The Citizen' a Tanzanian newspaper this morning. Please pray for the people of Burundi. They have suffered much. Ten years on from the genocide and war, not dissimilar to that reported in Rwanda, a war that devastated the land and brought unbelievable hardship, grief and poverty to the people, hopes were rising for the world's third poorest country. The Church, at the forefront of much change since the war has been caring for the poor, looking after thousands of orphans and homeless, providing basic education and food services, helping people to plant crops and to develop sustainable and cooperative farming methods. It has been an amazing story of Christian love in action, of miraculous proportions, in an environment of few resources and little infrastructure. Through our companion links, PWRDF has helped provide funds for many projects in Burundi, even a roof for the Cathedral in Muyinga; churches in the diocese of Qu'Appelle have helped purchase cattle, seeds and more recently funds for education, especially for deacon Alexis, now in his final year, as he prepares to be a nurse practitioner. Our hope on this trip was to discuss further the building of a medical centre. $50,000 from the money raised in our diocesan initiative, Living the Mission, is designated to help build and equip the centre.
As the future in Burundi is once again marred by violence and uncertainty, I call on all the churches in our diocese to join Archdeacon Dell and myself in interceding for the people of Burundi: To pray that peace will prevail and that all God's people be kept safe: To pray for all leaders, that their decisions and actions be just and true: To pray that people would come to honour one another and seek the common good: To pray that people turn from prejudice, pride and preference and instead love God and love one another and to continue to pray for the Church, its leaders and people, that at the forefront of need, they will remain faithful to the Gospel and that their example be that of Christ, compassionate, forgiving and merciful, facilitating healing and reconciliation and sharing the faith in love.
Yours in Christ