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Onesphore & Doug in Burundi

One of Multiply’s key partners in Sub-Saharan Africa is a ministry called Harvest for Christ, which was started in Burundi by a man named Onesphore Manirakiza. 

Doug Hiebert, long-term worker with Multiply in Burundi, has known Onesphore since 2004 when the two leaders quickly became friends. Although the two men had many differences, representing two continents and two organizations, they shared a passion for Jesus and a belief that the Gospel could bring positive change to Africa.

Early on in their partnership, Doug saw something unique in Onesphore’s leadership. He was committed to investing in younger leaders, a strategy that was rare among many African church leaders. He was also committed to taking risks of faith and taking every opportunity to learn.

Doug was reminded of the turning point in Onesphore’s ministry, when the governor of a certain province imprisoned some of Harvest’s young evangelists. The governor explained to Onesphore that the evangelists were disturbing his people by taking them away from the work they needed to do. The governor said that if the Harvest workers were doing something practical to visibly make a difference in the people’s lives, then he would be happy to have them in his province.

Onesphore took the governor’s words to heart and developed a whole new model for Harvest’s ministry, which featured meeting the basic needs of the people, like healthcare, education and housing. Doug was thrilled to support Onesphore’s vision for a ministry that would contend for the manifestation of the kingdom in the lives of the poor. “The next thing we knew,” Doug said, “the governor was offering Harvest a sizable piece of land on which to develop their initiatives among the Batwa, the poorest and most marginalized people group in Burundi.”

Today, the ministry is thriving and God is changing lives among the Batwa. In addition to a medical clinic on the property, there is a school, which is considered to be the best in the province. The community is being transformed: people are studying the Bible, students are learning to dream, and health care and living conditions have improved dramatically. 

For Doug and Onesphore, it was a glimpse of the fruit of healthy partnership. “It became clear to me,” Doug said, “that my role as a foreigner was to encourage and affirm Onesphore’s vision, to help give some shape to it, then to show our commitment through supporting the ministry financially and sending teams to help when possible.” 

In order to broaden the base for partnership, Doug also introduced Onesphore to his home church in Ontario, Canada—Cornerstone Community (MB). The local church was eager to get behind Onesphore’s vision to see Burundi transformed by the Gospel, so they began partnering with Harvest and their ministry among the Batwa.

Both Doug and Onesphore have been blessed by the richness of this partnership between Multiply and Harvest for Christ. It’s a partnership model that emphasizes giving and receiving for both parties.

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