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Report from ALARM Regional Director, Rev. Faustin Ntamushobora

Facilitators: Ed & Donna Edwards, Alvin & Kim Bates; ALARM Staff

The marriage enrichment conference took place in Gitega, Burundi, during the week of June 4 – 8, 2007. The conference was attended by pastors and their wives, and the couples were from various protestant denominations in Burundi, varying from the main streams to independent churches.

Personal Benefit
I was enriched by the conference, and wished Salome, my wife, was with me. The conference was a healing event for me, because, when I visited Gitega last in 1993, I went through a rough time after the assassination of the first elected President, which was followed by turmoil in the whole country, resulting in tribal killings. For me to be able to see Gitega again, not during blood shed, but during a time of peace, was a fulfilling event. It was a great joy for me to climb those hills and mountains, sing Kirundi songs, and hear the birds singing glory to God and peace in Burundi.

But the conference was more fulfilling for me. The teaching on stewardship and budgeting was challenging. For the twenty-two years of marriage with Salome, I need to confess that, although we have known the importance of budgeting, we have not managed to keep our budget. We would sit together and work on a budget, which did not finally work. The conference reinforced in me the need to work and apply the budget; Salome and I have been revived in this area.

Importance of the conference to the ministry of ALARM
The African leadership And Reconciliation Ministries, Inc. (ALARM) exists to train Church and community leaders so that they may be transformed and equipped to bring transformation in their communities. That is exactly what Living Well, through the Edwards and their friends, the Bates, did. They empowered leaders who were transformed and whose marriages were healed and transformed, with the view that these leaders will be good stewards of passing on what they learned to others.

The conference was also a reinforcement of Paul’s writing to Timothy, that “if one does not manage his home, then he should not become a pastor” (1 Timothy 3:5). ALARM ministry in Burundi was blessed by this important conference which came at the right time: a time after the war, a time when families that have been separated for decades are re-uniting, a time when every Burundian needs healing from the trauma caused by the long war. It is my prayer that the Living Well will continue to partner with ALRM to conduct more such transformative conferences in other countries of Africa in order to strengthen pastors’ families and equip them to bring healing in their communities.

Pastors in Gitega and the Conference
For the pastors in Gitega, the conference was an eternal investment. I spoke to a Pigmy couple that had attended the conference (they are called Twa in Rwanda and Burundi. Pigmies represent 1% of the popula-tion and most of them live in the forest), and the pastor told me:

The week was a blessing and an eternal investment, especially for us Pigmies. Most of the organizations think that we only need food and shelter; and indeed we do. But neither food nor shelter can bring change in the lives of the Pigmies. It is only the word of God that can transform our people (the wife also said that the teaching had empowered her to minister to her fellow Pygmy women, who do not like staying with one man, rather they are involved in immorality with several men, thus having the danger of contracting HIV/AIDS).

Another pastor shared with me the following:
Faustin, you came with the right people. They are speaking from the depth of their hearts. That is why their teaching is touching us. It is not just intellectual knowledge; it is coming from a sincere heart, and a heart full of love. We are being transformed and equipped for life.

At the end of the conference many pastors confessed before their wives that they had been touched by the teaching, and would therefore follow what the Bible says, not what the Burundian culture says about the status of a wife vis-a-vis the husband. They confessed that they would consider their wives to be their
helpers, their equals, and would give them attention and time, instead of giving all their time to the ministry.

What a transformation! Glory to God for the conference and its impact in the life and ministry of pastors and their wives in Burundi!

Rev. Faustin Ntamushobora
Africa Regional Director
ALARM

 
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