January 2015

Burundi is the third poorest country in the world, and the Batwa are the poorest of the poor. They have been enslaved for centuries by other tribes, and therefore many still live in fear in the forests with poor shelter, no education and a high mortality rate. For a number of years, Doug and Deanna Hiebert and their home church of Cornerstone in Niagara, Ontario have been assisting a local Burundian ministry in building an elementary school, medical clinic, church and mission training center among the Batwa. As I visited the elementary school on my trip, I stopped and talked to a Batwa woman who was walking by. She proudly stated that all three of her children were studying in that school. “My children live like kings,” she said, explaining that the school not only taught her children to read but also provided one nutritious meal a day. “They’re healthy,” she said with a smile, “and they all wear shoes!”

When I looked at her face, I noticed a scar that ran from her ear down to her mouth. She touched the scar and explained that she was one of the first Batwa Christians in the area. As a young widow, she had worked hard to advocate for the improvement of her people, but one night as she walked home from a church meeting she was attacked by an unknown assailant with a machete. The man had chopped her head, face and back with a machete, then ran away when her cries for help were answered. The attack was interpreted as resistance from the local community to the empowerment of the Batwa and the improvement of their lives. The forested hillside where the Batwa ministry center was built had formerly been used by the local tribes for witchcraft and even human sacrifice. The battle for the Batwa is costly, but Jesus has already paid the price. He is now calling others who are also willing to fight for their freedom.

The Hieberts were joined this past year by the Schulz family from Chilliwack, BC. Between the two families there are now six young girls who are growing up in Burundi, sharing the love of Jesus in a nation where simply having shoes makes you royalty.

The Bible calls us a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” Why? Peter explains it simply, “that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10). That’s God’s story. He releases slaves and makes them his people. It’s our story as well. Let’s keep telling it!

Randy Friesen

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the Batwa, and the thousands of other tribes who have lived under slavery – that they would know their Kingdom inheritance as sons and daughters of God.
  • Pray for the Hiebert and Schulz families, and for other workers sharing the Gospel with least reached tribal groups – that God would continue to sustain and encourage them.
  • Continue to pray for the church in North America – that we would understand the freedom that we have in Christ, and that we would no longer live as slaves, but as those called out of darkness.
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Physical slavery is prevalent around the world; it takes many forms. Individuals and people groups are in bondage. Guest speaker, Randy Friesen has seen the amazing power of the Gospel to bring freedom to the oppressed. In our own lives, we can find ourselves enslaved – to sin and to fear. How can we be free? Knowing who we are in Christ is vital to our freedom.
January 2015 at Central Heights Church, Abbotsford, BC Play Button PLAY SERMON