In my Advent devotional reading, I found this verse in Isaiah’s foretelling of the Messiah: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6) When I consider what the Burundian people have been through in recent history—from colonialism to civil wars to economic hardship beyond what an average American can realistically comprehend—I stand amazed at the atmosphere and impact of Hope Africa University. The “impossible” is happening there: bright young people forging a future for themselves, their families, and their country, in spite of their personal losses and societal obstacles.
I traveled to Burundi with Betty Overton, who serves as the president of Friends of Hope Africa University (FHAU) and visits there twice a year, including several weeks as a teaching professor. We stayed just one week on this trip, but we packed a lot in! A few highlights:
Sharing Busoma porridge with students who receive the meal twice a week courtesy of FHAU
Touring the Ngagara campus “power plant” that coverts energy from the FHAU-donated solar panels into electricity for lights in the classrooms and air conditioning in the computer labs and other places where equipment requires protection from the equatorial heat and humidity
Visiting Kibuye Hope Hospital and its campus, where HAU medical students complete their studies and help treat thousands of patients each month
Walking through Van Norman Clinic with the medical director and his assistant; there, recent FHAU-funded renovations significantly improved patient comfort and capacity
Meeting the pigs at one of three agricultural sites Rector Victor Barantota showed us: the pig enclosure, soon to be expanded in size and scope, thanks to FHAU; a parcel of land recently donated to the university by the Free Methodist Church of Burundi; and another parcel of land recently donated by the local government
Taking in the beautiful vista atop HAU’s Mount Hope Campus, where classes are already taking place and future developments are being planned
Worshipping with Free Methodist sisters and brothers in Bujumbura—three wonderful choirs and an excellent sermon (thanks to Rector Victor for translating for me) punctuated the 3+ hour service. I even had the high honor of praying over the preacher before he began sharing the Word. Another personal note about the church service: The night before, I had a vivid dream about Christmas, even though it was only October. At the actual service, one of the hymns was “Joy to the World”! Betty and I heartily sang along in English.
This is a much-redacted report about some of the things I witnessed in Bujumbura and beyond. As I said, I do hope to return. But for now, I thank God that I am much better equipped to convey to fellow Friends of Hope Africa University what is going on there, how we can partner with our brothers and sisters in prayer and support, and how much Hope truly pervades the community there. We know the Reason for this Hope, and we join together in adoring Him this season and at all times and places: Jesus Christ our Lord. May His name be praised and glorified, and may He be pleased with our fellowship, FHAU and HAU working in harmony for His kingdom, which is forever. Amen.