rai·son d’être

noun \ˌrā-ˌzōⁿ-ˈdetrə\

: the thing that is most important to someone or something : the reason for which a person or organization exists

Joel shares with help of translator/med student Christian Irakoze

Joel shares with help of translator/med student Christian Irakoze

On October 21st, I had the privilege of participating in the first national Burundian Christian Healthcare Professionals Conference. The Christian Medical Student Fellowship (CMSF) organized the gathering which included hundreds of doctors, nurses, technicians, and students from across the country. There were speakers including myself and colleague Eric McLaughlin, lively Kirundi praise and worship, and several testimonies of God’s power at work in the offices and clinics across the country. This, my friends, illustrates our raison d’etre, the reason we serve in Burundi.

The Kingdom is Breaking In

Not only was the conference an encouragement but it was also a challenge. As we considered how the Kingdom of God is manifesting in offices and clinics, a variety of students and doctors gave witness to the prayers being answered. The signs of this in-breaking Kingdom sounded a bit like Jesus’s response to John the Baptist’s disciples: Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. (Matthew 11:4-5)

The Students Lead The Way

In a desperately poor country like Burundi with corruption and conflict and spiritual

delegation of medical students and docs from Kibuye who attended the conference

delegation of medical students and docs from Kibuye who attended the conference

superficiality, we often forget that God is at work and that there are many God-things happening. This conference served as a rebuke to those of us who, like Elijah, have said, “I am the only one left!” (I Kings 19:14) One of our own Hope Africa University students, Ivan, related how he and his classmates had felt a burden for the spiritual and physical lives of the patients they were seeing during their rotation in Kibuye. They began to meet together regularly for prayer and worship. Out of that devotion, evangelization and prayer teams were established. Not only did

Ivan speaks at conference

Ivan speaks at conference

they begin to pray regularly and fervently for the spiritual life of their patients but when they saw physical needs, they gave their own resources to buy food and medication for those who could not afford them. This is the Kingdom coming on earth as in heaven.

There were many other stories of healings, spiritual transformations, relationships restored, and principalities overcome. One of our Van Norman Clinic staff doctors sent me this in a follow up email: “It was a life changing experience what I learnt from the cmsf today, I need to be more available for anything to do.” Like this young doctor, I want to be available. Forgive me God, for limiting your power. Strengthen my faith. Give me a willingness to sacrifice for you and the courage to say “Yes” to your purposes in my life and in Burundi!

A Burundian Effort

Eric McLaughlin speaks about the Kingdom of God

Eric McLaughlin speaks about the Kingdom of God

This conference was an answer to the prayers of Burundians and many of you who have been supporting us. And we were not the primary motivators or organizers. This was the vision of Burundian medical students and they were the ones who took ownership of it. We are not here to simply offer medical care to the sick even though that is a blessing when it happens. Rather, we want to encourage Burundians to take the gifts of medical education and compassion and prayer and use them to see this country and continent transformed for God’s glory. Buhoro, buhoro (slowly, slowly), God is doing this and we are blessed to be able to see it happening.

All of us who follow Jesus have a common “reason for being” which is the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. God has equipped us to prepare for and build his Kingdom. Within that common objective, there are smaller goals that you and I may be especially ready or able to pursue. We need each other as we offer our gifts to the world. Like these students, let’s look around and join God where he is working today.

Worship led by students

Worship led by students