Dr. Livingston, I Presume?

By Joan Hust Why is there a trail up to that rock with grass huts and no people? So I walked up there. It was the famous meeting of Dr. Livingstone and H. Stanley that took place in 1871. The inscription on the rock: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Burundi is located in Central Africa. The bordering countries are Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. It is about the size of the state of Maryland. Due to the many years of war it is struggling to survive. Bujumbura, the capital, is on the west coast of Lake Tanganyika with its many local handmade canoe-like fishing boats with young men in shorts and no shirts always available to give you a boat ride. It is one of the ten poorest countries in the world. This is largely due to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. It is densely populated. Their main exports are coffee, tea, and sugar. I drank tea every day, and the others on the team drank coffee. The coffee and tea is the best ever. Let me ask you a few questions, Joan. I don’t really know anyone that has gone to Burundi. You hear of folks that visit many countries in Africa, but you are the first that I have heard of that has gone to Burundi. I can’t imagine what enticed you. What were you doing there? I joined a Church Partnership Evangelism (CPE) team from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Their ministry goal is to make disciple-making disciples and plant church-planting churches. The strategy is to equip people in evangelism, discipleship, and cell or church planting, and then to engage you in the task. It is a short-term mission’s ministry with a long-term impact. The goal is to initiate those who make professions of faith in a discipleship course led by the lay person who brought them to the Lord Jesus. Tell me more about who you traveled with, how much it cost, good exchange for your US dollars, how many flights, what did you actually do, and would you go back? I traveled with a friend from one of the Life churches in Coeur d’Alene that I have known not only for a long time but was on a China mission team with me a couple of years ago. We were most compatible, and a lot of fun. We both accept the definition of a missionary by Oswald Chambers “A missionary is someone sent by Jesus Christ just as He was sent by God. The great controlling factor is not the needs of people, but the command of Jesus. The goal is to be true to Him to carry out His plans. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. Matthew 28:19 The exchange rate for the dollar was average. Some of my money the bank would not accept. The reason being they only accepted 2003 to the present year. Some of my money was before 2003. Accommodations, food and travel were included in the total cost of the trip which was under four thousand. Travel was five flights, 48 hours, two days and two nights one way. Many people doubt that short term missions are a good use of your money. I hear this all the time. Why don’t you just give the missionaries that are there the money, and help them? There are some things in life that you can’t tag a dollar sign on it. Here are four reasons that support the need and blessings of short term missions. Most career missionaries encourage short-term mission trips to fields where they labor. There is great encouragement to missionaries and the believers they serve to have other believers come and join them in labor for the Lord. Those who spend time on a mission field become much more aware of the needs of the career missionary and the mission work and this results in increased giving, praying, writing encouraging letters, and other expressions of love and support. Short-term teams provide good fellowship for the career missionaries and their families who experience loneliness and isolation. Let me address the issue of just what my schedule was every day. I got up at six a.m. and was at the breakfast table with the team at seven thirty am for breakfast, prayer and praise. After breakfast we were taken by van or car by a driver assigned to us to take us to the location of the villages. We joined local church people and walked up muddy, wet trails to villages not seen from the road. I was introduced and I gave my personal testimony, plan of salvation, and asked them if they would like to accept Jesus just as I did when I was a teenager. Many came forward, return dates were set to disciple them, and connect them with the local church in one of the villages. We did this every day. We had a late lunch daily that was prepared by the ladies at one of the vacant homes. There were many vacant homes due to the war when so many were killed. It is a difficult existence there as the local people struggle to get their lives back together. We were back at the center before dark, dinner was served, praise and prayers, and off to sleep under a mosquito net that draped down from the ceiling. Once I hit the “City of Bed Springs” I do not remember the lights being turned off, people talking, or dogs barking till my roommate said, “Good morning, Joan. We have another day to tell the story of Jesus to our brothers and sisters in Burundi”. Would I go back? Why would anyone ask me that question? What do you think?