The Burundi Union Mission, located in the East-Central Africa region of the World Church, has long hoped for assistance in fulfilling the gospel commission in their territory. After gaining valuable experience assisting neighboring unions with successful Total Member Involvement campaigns in 2016 and 2017, the Burundi Union and three additional unions in the Democratic Republic of Congo planned their own evangelistic meetings to be held July 6 – 21, 2018.
Groundwork began in earnest across the country as Adventist Health Ministries, Adventist Youth (AY), ADRA, local Adventist radio station AGAKIZA, and Adventist schools in the territory all collaborated to bring attention to the upcoming meetings and present a positive image of the Adventist Church.
Women’s Ministries, Dorcas members and other lay-people visited hospitals and health centers, donating food, soap, clothing and medical care cards for the most vulnerable in the community. ADRA Africa distributed food, hygiene items, kitchen essentials such as buckets and basins, and a wheelchair for a handicapped child. ADRA country director Ankitayo Oyedemi said, “The Bible says in Luke 6:38 to ‘Give and it shall be given to you’…That is why we wanted to do this small gesture.”
AY groups performed in Independence Day parades, impressing government officials with their routine. The president of Burundi, His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, congratulated the Adventist Church for having such an excellent program for youth and invited the young people to participate in any other important event in the nation. Nkurunziza gave a cash gift of One million Burundi Francs (roughly $500 USD) to the youth as a gesture of his appreciation.
Realizing that health care is the right arm of the gospel, the Health Ministries department sponsored a free clinic, treating 3,132 people and offering counseling on lifestyle-based diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Over 500 people donated blood at 10 different locations countrywide.
As the Adventist name began splashing across local news headlines, people questioned who these people were. “Have you heard of the Seventh-day Adventists? They are almost everywhere now!” To TMI organizers, this was an indication that they were making a positive impact. The Church put Christ’s method into practice: reach people’s needs, then invite them to follow Him.
By the time the campaign began on July 6, the Church and evangelistic effort was well known in the community. Guest speakers, local pastors and lay-people saw the Holy Spirit’s influence in a powerful way as members brought their friends and family to the meetings. At the close of the series, 43,000 people chose to follow Christ through baptism.
According to Joseph Ndikubwayo, president of the Adventist Church in Burundi, membership prior to the meetings was 144,469. The large number of new believers can be directly attributed to members, at least 1 in every 3, bringing visitors and leading them through the process to baptism. Church leaders have never seen this type of growth in the country before—and numbers of new converts will continue to climb as 40 additional sites are organizing supplemental campaigns.
The Church in Burundi has accepted the challenge of building new churches and nurturing the new members. The leadership is calling upon the global Adventist family to pray for God’s mission in their country.