‘Founded on the Bible’: Langham Preaching in Burundi
By Jonathan Lamb, international programme director, Langham Preaching
Despite many years of civil unrest, poverty and corruption, Burundi is an African nation with a determination to change society for the better. A small but significant contribution to the cause of social and spiritual transformation is the commitment of national Christian leaders to strengthen the cause of biblical preaching.
The Langham Preaching Movement
The Burundian preaching movement is led by a very capable local team. Zenon (the local coordinator) and his team provide excellent organisational support for the movement, and Florence Kamegeri and Safari Ruben pour their energies into the development of the preaching networks. Preachers clubs meet once a month to review sermon outlines, critique each other’s sermons and to review materials on how to prepare for a sermon. Participants from a variety of denominations (including the Anglican church, the Baptist church, and the Pentecostal church) have benefited from the seminars so far.
|‘We are pleased to help our sisters and brothers to improve their preaching and the Langham Preaching system is appreciated by everyone who is following it.’|
|Local facilitator, Florence Kamegeri|
In early November 2009, the team organised a Level 2 and 3 programme, providing an opportunity for those who have been involved in previous training to complete the cycle of three seminars. Some 60 participants came, 30 for each track, and during the week there was a special graduation ceremony for those who had completed the three levels.
As one of the pastors prayed during the closing ceremony: ‘We’ve done the evangelism but we’ve not done the training.’ As Gordon Woolard, Langham Preaching facilitator, comments:
‘This is the repeated need across the country and around the region – more training, and less emphasis on prosperity teaching and miracles as ways to solve your problems.’
Several of the pastors said that, over the two years, their preaching had changed a good deal, and that they were preaching with more confidence, knowing their message was founded on the Bible. The small preachers’ clubs continue to meet, and the national committee – one of the best in the region – is encouraging participants to continue the work between the main training programs.
Burundi is a small country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and the DRC to the west. It was a Tutsi-ruled kingdom for more than two hundred years. However, Germany and Belgium occupied the region at the beginning of the 20th century. Social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu erupted into civil war in Burundi that continued throughout the middle of the 20th century. The sad legacy of this turbulent past is that today Burundi is amongst the 10 poorest countries in the world.
The majority of Burundians are Roman Catholic (62%), some are evangelical (21%) and there is a significant minority of Muslims (8-10%). By God’s grace, the evangelical church has continued to grow through the many years of suffering. However, there is a lack of trained teachers to pastor the new converts as persecution and closure of Bible schools cut off the supply of newly trained teachers. As the schooling system has also deteriorated, there is a need for basic, contextualised training for those already preaching to congregations.
A Sustainable Future
Plans are now underway for a special event in March 2010 – the training of local facilitators. A select group of pastors, all of whom have completed the Level 3 programme, will meet for several days of training, equipping them to train preachers in their own town and region (local level 1 workshops). Then the next national event will be November 1-5, 2010, when a further Level 3 programme will be held, and a new Level 1 programme launched. In these ways, the training continues to be sustained.
As Gordon explains, speaking first of Burundi but further afield, ‘We’re really starting to see a movement of Bible-text preaching take off in several countries after five years of effort.’