A smile that lights up a room. Eyes that stir your soul. Joy that is infectious.
Sleeping in the gutter. Wearing rags. Uneducated. Begging for drinking water. Scavenging for food. Festering wounds on their feet. Orphans. Abandoned, cast out by those who didn’t want to love them anymore.
These are the boys that live on the streets and beaches of Bujumbura. Their parents have died, or abandoned them, disposed of them. Tucking their arms into their ragged t-shirts, sleeping next to each other for warmth, closing their eyes, restlessly each night not knowing if they will fall ill, get robbed, or beaten by the police.
Sticking together as a family, they try to watch over one another.
These children break my heart. I love them. They are some of the most beautiful children I have ever met.
We met them through our good friends Elyse & Dany, from our church here in Bujumbura. They have started an incredible ministry: Every Saturday, and whenever they’ve had holidays or time off work for the past 3 months, they have been cleaning up the public beach in Bujumbura in an effort to reach out to the homeless men and boys that frequent the area.
Street men and boys have joined them every week, building up relationship and learning about the love of Jesus. For those who help with the labour, a warm, full meal awaits them when lunch time arrives.
But before lunch, there is a football match for the young boys, and a bible devotion and life-planning session for the men. A strong message of the love and grace of Jesus is demonstrated. They clean up the garbage, and the next week it is back again and they clean it up all over again. Just like our sin, we come to Jesus and He takes it away and washes us clean, and we sin again, and we come back to Jesus and He washes us clean again.
The homeless here are commonly ignored, if not openly despised. Viewed as thieves and crooks, or those too lazy to get a job. There are no ministries here, no homeless shelters, no youth emergency programs, nothing. What our friends are doing is taking Jesus to a place where he has not yet visited in Burundi.
We have had the privilege of joining them a couple of times this past week, which were some of the best days of my life. We’ve decided that this ministry is something we will continue to be involved with whenever we are in Bujumbura.
It is beautiful. It is an example of what God calls us to do. It is an incredible ministry that I can see continuing to expand and grow.
We spent New Years Eve at our church with these children, worshipping, and praying blessings over them for this coming year of 2014.
Please join us in prayer for these beautiful children. Please pray for our friends as they consider how to grow this amazing ministry, to not only reach these men and boys for Jesus, but how to protect them and foster their dreams, so that they can experience freedom from the chains of poverty, addiction, disease and violence. In Jesus name!
Blessings to you and your families in this coming year,