The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, CMSI's Mission Director, Jenny Smyth and former CMSI Trustee, Revd Dr Paddy McGlinchey (Church of Ireland Theological Institute) have begun a 12 day visit to our Partners in Matana Diocese, Burundi. Rev McGlinchey reflects on their first few days.
Welcome to the Burundi blog!
Archbishop Michael, Jenny and myself arrived safely at Bujumbura International Airport on Friday (13th) and stayed overnight at a hotel which supports the work of Scripture Union.
Our programme properly began the next morning when the Archbishop Martin’s Secretary, Revd Feliebien, drove us to Makamba. The three-hour plus journey gave us the opportunity for fellowship and also to hear about the country from someone who had a balanced and informed perspective. We learnt that the East Africa Revival continued for 15 years and still leaves its mark on the country. Also, to our relief, we discovered that the instability of Burundi was somewhat over-dramatised by the media. Indeed, as we drove through the countryside we could see that things were relaxed and that there was no obvious atmosphere of tension.
After being delivered to our hotel in Makamba, we were collected by the Diocesan Secretary and Development officer and taken to the wedding celebration of the Archbishop’s brother! I’m learning that on mission trips one can never predict what will happen next. Here we were warmly welcomed by the Archbishop and his wife and joined in the festivities. It was an opportunity to sample the culture and meet a number of local folk.
During the celebration Archbishop Martin was called away to deal with a crisis situation which, thankfully, he was able to resolve. The arrangement was made that we would bring greetings at the morning Eucharist and that Archbishop Michael would preach.
The service itself was very enjoyable with a wide range of participation. Jenny, Archbishop Michael and myself all had an opportunity to pass on greetings and encouragements. Archbishop Martin translated for Archbishop Michael and the congregation were blessed by the sermon. Archbishop Michael was congratulated at the end for having achieved a Burundian length sermon! Although he had originally intended to travel to an ordination service in the afternoon, Archbishop Martin very graciously took us to Lake Tanganyika for lunch.
This time of extended fellowship allowed us to have wide-ranging conversations about the Burundian church and the current state of mission on the continent. Archbishop Martin is an incredibly informed and thoughtful church leader with a huge vision and the ministry skills to help bring it into reality. It was a genuine blessing to be given such an amount of time and input by the Archbishop.
The conversation continued on the way home and we later had an opportunity to have supper at the Archbishop’s house where we watched most of the second half of the World Cup Final. The French victory was a particular blessing for the Burundian people as eight of the winning French team were of African descent.
Even after just two days in the country we are aware of the great hospitality of the local Christians and the amount of thought and effort put into hosting us. It was also thrilling to see how much solid teaching was built into the hymns sung during worship. At various points in the service the Archbishop would turn to either Archbishop Michael or I and translate the words for us. He did this not just as an act of translation but as a means of encouraging us.
Please pray for this small team as they help to deepen and develop the relationships between the Church in Ireland and Burundi. We encourage you to use the following prayer, which Archbishop Michael has written for the team:
A Prayer for the Burundi Team
Almighty God, we pray that through the forthcoming visit, You will strengthen and uphold Your servants, who go as partners in mission in Your name. Give to each of Jenny, Paddy and Michael a heart for understanding and lips for praise of You. Give to all who will meet one another for the first time, an openness to be guided by Your son, Jesus Christ, in plans made, visions shared and projects completed.
This we ask in the power of the Holy Spirit.