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Plan B

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, rife with civil unrest, corruption and conflict. Uncertainty about the future is a daily experience in Africa and the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to emphasize that uncertainty. Yet Christians in this Burundi continue to worship with abandon and seek the face of God.

On one of the recent video calls with Multiply’s workers across the globe, national leader Onesphore Manirakiza in Burundi was asked what he would say to the Church in the West about living on mission in times of crisis. His response was both challenging and inspiring.

“It is hard for you to learn about the faithfulness of God if you have everything you need,” Onesphore said. “Human nature wants to be in control, and when we think we are in control this gives no room for God to be almighty.”

Onesphore shared that, given the abject poverty of his country, it is perhaps easier for him to accept that he is not in control. “Here we have no medical insurance, no regular income, no security,” he explained. “We have absolutely no ability to even plan ahead!” He then went on to describe an example of what that looks like in everyday life.

“Once, when a team from North America was visiting, they saw a rat in the hotel bathroom where I had arranged for them to stay. A team member said to me, ‘We cannot stay here! Onesphore, what is your Plan B?’ I told him, ‘There is no Plan B in Burundi! Only Plan A!’”

“We need to see that we are always dependent on what comes from God,” he emphasized. “We have nothing that he has not given. When things are hard, we want to use our minds to see what we can do. Or else we want to run away and hide in our comfort zone. Instead, that is the moment when we must draw near to God, wait and be still. Let the difficulties pressure us into his presence. Then we will see that he is almighty! We will see him acting through means we could never imagine or plan!”

For Onesphore, the almighty nature of God is more than an abstract concept. “This is not just a theory I read in the Bible,” he insisted. “I have seen this many times in my life. When I surrendered to God my career as a lawyer, I had no one, no provision, no Plan B, C or D.” Within a short time, God sent two people who did not know Onesphore at all, and there began the ministry of Harvest for Christ and his partnership with Multiply worker Doug Hiebert.

Today, Onesphore works with forty churches across Burundi, devoting himself to mentoring and discipling pastors and leaders. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he encourages the Church to both grasp and express their calling as the family of God.

““This is a big thing,” he said, “that the Church cannot do mission if it is not family. If you do mission without being a family you are betraying people, you are a troublemaker.” He went on to say, “Here there is no law for community care, it is the Church that cares for those in need. To do this we must be family, brothers and sisters who love each other and welcome others into our homes and lives. We cannot abandon those who are in need, that is not what a family would do.”

Onesphore ended by praying that the global Church – and specifically the Church in the West – would live on mission as this kind of family, humbly dependent upon an almighty God. “We are a family that does not live in this world for ourselves, we live in this world for others. We must not panic but draw near to him and draw others to him. That,” he said firmly, “is God’s plan for the world!” And for Onesphore, there is no Plan B.

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