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‘A beautiful country’: Rev Arsène visits the walled city

When visiting somewhere for the first time, we each have an opportunity to really look around and see before familiarity sets in and stops us appreciating this ‘view-through-fresh-eyes’. We have very much appreciated having Rev Arsène in our midst. His presence is not only helping us see things that have hitherto gone unnoticed, but he is sharing these observations with us with care and consideration. We are benefitting from his ‘view-through-fresh-eyes’. After spending some time in Derry-Londonderry, Arsène sent us the following report of his visit. We hope you enjoy participating in this shared seeing.


Sunday Service

I took part in Sunday Services at Glendermott and New Buildings which is a link Parish of Matana Diocese in Burundi where I was given a pulpit to share on ‘The Call of God’ as it was vocation Sunday. Despite different gifts and talents God has given us, I believe we all share one call: to be faithful followers of Christ.

Visit of Aghanloo, Balteagh, Carrick and Tamlaghtard Churches

I met Rev. Brian Robinson on May 14, 2024, who took me to see Bill Massey's statue in Limavady, then down to see the ruins at St Aidan's of the old Tamlaghtard and finally to the current church there. Brian has a powerful testimony, being from a Presbytarian background and now ministering in the CoI. I shared a dinner with him and with the curate of Glendermott and New Buildings, Rev. Johnny Lowden and his wife Emily, who spent a few weeks in Burundi this time last year.

Conflictual history of the city

During a walk on the wall around the walled city of Derry-Londonderry, I realised the history of Ireland somehow mirrors the history of Burundi. The two countries have suffered periods of troubles, political and religious divisions that have caused so much psychological, physical and spiritual harm. In both countries these wounds have yet to be totally healed. The Peace Bridge and all the initiatives for reconciliation are perfect examples of what reconciliation ministry looks like!

One of the initiatives worth being mentioned is ANOTHER CHANCE that I visited on Monday May 13, 2024.

‘Another Chance’ charity Shop

‘Another Chance’ is Glendermott and NewBuildings Parish’s Charity Shop, located in a former area of interference between Catholics and Protestants during the troubles. This shop gives opportunity for people to donate clothes and other possessions which are sold to generate income to support mission. It serves the communities as prices are lower compared to other shops and gives to the church the opportunity to show compassion and the love of Christ to people needing help, such as those without a home. Furthermore, the charity brings people together. From Monday to Sunday, there are people who volunteer to work in the charity shop; some of them do not even attend church.

Visit to Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Centre

It was so nice to meet The Right Rev. Andrew Forster, Bishop Diocese of Derry and Raphoe as I visited the Diocesan Centre. I conveyed to him my greetings from the Church of Burundi, the Diocese of Gitega and from CMSI. I shared with the committee that I have really enjoyed the time I have spent so far in Ireland, telling them it is really a pleasure to come from a different culture and country but feel welcome. This is where I’m really happy to be a member of the Anglican faith and the Anglican Church because wherever you go you know that you will find a welcoming member of the body of the church.

The House Group

It is so encouraging to see that there are people who still meet in the communities to share the word of God despite the general sense that the western world is becoming more and more secular. This is a proof that the old way of doing things, reconnecting with communities and neighbourhoods, is still a relevant, relational and invitational approach to ministry. I am happy to have taken part in Joanne and Ernie Miller’s Monday evening house group. It’s clear to me that tea/coffee and cakes are very important in Ireland!

Newbuildings Primary School

I was so happy to visit NewBuildings Primary school to talk about Burundi and to share with pupils what education looks like in Burundi as an encouragement. They had so many religious, relational, social and economic questions on Burundi. The reality of how hard life is in Burundi aimed at communicating to them that they should not take for granted all the facilities they have! They ought to make the best use of them, I said!

Altnagelvin Area Hospital

The visit to Altnagelvin Area Hospital further strengthened my understanding of how hospital ministry is carried out in Ireland. The main differences from my context are firstly that chaplains are members of the Staff of the hospital and are provided data regarding patients of the Church of Ireland. There are many patients who are very old and most of the times lonely. And secondly, health care is FREE; no one is anxious about paying the hospital bills!

Visiting a farm

Most like Burundi, farming is an important part of the economy of Northern Ireland. Visiting a farm gave me an idea of what daily life is like in rural Ireland; this is very important for an effective ministry. The needed investment for practiced modern farming in Ireland is incredibly huge in lands, technology, machines, tractors, etc. I absolutely loved this experience which ended up in me milking cows!

Burundi Focus Event

It was a pleasure to participate in the Burundi Focus Event in Glendermott and NewBuildings. I took part in the evening worship and I was given an opportunity to share about what God is doing in Burundi, in Gitega most particularly alongside Roger from CMSI and Johnny Lowden who is the curate in Glendermott and Newbuildings. To the members of the church worried that the church in the West is dying, I reminded them that growth is not always about the numbers! I taught congregants who were present a Kirundi song. So amazing! It was great to connect with some members of the clergy in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe as well.

Tourism and having fun

I have enjoyed the view of the North Coast of Northen Ireland. I visited sites such as Castlerock Beach, the Dunluce castle, the absolutely beautiful Giant’s Causeway and the Ballintoy Harbour. Northern Ireland is a very beautiful country; I'm not surprised that tourism is a major part of its economy.

I am truly thankful to all the people who have hosted me. Absolutely lovely people!



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