Burundi: A Nation of Violence, Poverty… and Hope

As I mentioned last Sunday morning, this Sunday evening at our Together Asking God prayer meeting we will be praying for our friends, the Ahuka and Ekangyela families, as well as the growing tension in Burundi and South Africa. Many of their friends and family members are right in the middle of this unrest (in both countries) and are in need of our prayers. Also, many who are here in Fredericton still have spouses in Burundi. We need to ask God to intervene and reunite these families!

Please make it a priority to join us this Sunday (April 26) at 7:30pm to pray for our dear friends. We will give more personal updates then and share more specific needs to help us pray, but in the meantime here are a few things to know about the nation of Burundi. Learn more about what’s happening in South Africa here.

BURUNDI

Area: 27,834 sq km
Geography: A mountainous, fertile country on the northeast shore of Lake Tanganyika, south of its twin Rwanda.
Population: 10,395,931 (2014 estimate)
Capital: Bujumbura
Motto: “Ubumwe, Ibikorwa, Amajambere” (Kirundi), “Unity, Work, Progress”
President: Pierre Nkurunziza

A Nation of Violence
Since independence in 1962 it has been plagued by tension between the usually-dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority. The ethnic violence sparked off in 1994 made Burundi the scene of one of Africa’s most intractable conflicts. It began to reap the dividends of a peace process, but faces the formidable tasks of reviving a shattered economy and forging national unity.

In 1993 Burundi seemed poised to enter a new era when, in their first democratic elections, Burundians chose their first Hutu head of state, Melchior Ndadaye, and a parliament dominated by the Hutu Front for Democracy in Burundi (Frodebu) party. But within months Ndadaye had been assassinated, setting the scene for years of Hutu-Tutsi violence in which an estimated 300,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed.

In early 1994 parliament elected another Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as president. But he was killed in April alongside the president of neighbouring Rwanda when the plane they were travelling in was shot down over Kigali. Another Hutu, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, was appointed president in October 1994. But within months, the mainly Tutsi Union for National Progress (Uprona) party withdrew from the government and parliament, sparking a new wave of ethnic violence.

Following long-running talks, mediated by South Africa, a power-sharing government was set up in 2001 and most of the rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire. Four years later Burundians voted in the first parliamentary elections since the start of the civil war.

The main Hutu former rebel group won the vote and nominated its leader Pierre Nkurunziza as president. The government and the United Nations embarked on the lengthy process of disarming thousands of soldiers and former rebels, as well as forming a new national army, but the authoritarian behaviour of the government following disputed elections in 2010 has cast a shadow over the reconciliation process.

With the opposition accusing President Nkurunziza of seeking to rewrite the constitution for his party’s own gain and of behaving increasingly like a dictator, there were fears of a new wave of unrest ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 2015.  1

A Nation of Poverty
• Burundi consistently ranks as one of the top 5 poorest countries in the world every year.
• The Human Development Index (HDI) measures development by combining indicators of life expectancy, education attainment, and income. Of the 187 countries listed, Burundi is ranked 180.  2
• In 2014, the Global Hunger Index declared Burundi the hungriest nation in the world.  3

A Nation of Hope
In the midst of all this struggle, God is still at work. One of the apostolic spheres within Newfrontiers (our family of churches) is Regions Beyond.  Read this encouraging update from Regions Beyond last year:

“In 2011, Regions Beyond began partnering with Evariste Ndayirukiye, who has a vision of transformation in Burundi and surrounding nations. As many of you know, in 2012, God amazingly provided us with £100,000 to buy a piece of land at the ‘city gate’ in Bujumbura, Burundi, which had previously been the site of one of the worst massacres in the civil war. We believe God has promised us that this area will become a place of hope, healing and restoration.

We have plans to establish a base there, including a church building,trade school and training centre, with accommodation facilities, plus some demonstration plots for teaching Foundations for Farming. This facility will both serve the community and be used by those coming from surrounding regions and neighbouring nations. The aim is to train and equip people in theology and church planting, as well as in business skills, trades and farming.

In January this year (2014), a team gathered in Bujumbura to seek God for the next phase. A prophetic word came, ‘Redeem the land, and the people will be restored.’  4

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Meet Evariste and hear his vision for Burundi here.

TAG . Sunday April 26, 7:30pm . 487 Brunswick St
The situations in Burundi and South Africa might seem overwhelming but they are not hopeless. Join us this Sunday to pray “to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

References
1 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13085064
2 https://data.undp.org/dataset/HDI-Indicators-By-Country-2014/5tuc-d2a9
3 http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/ghi/2014/feature_1827.html
4 http://www.regions-beyond.com/2014/08/01/burundi-crisis-appeal/

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