Burundi Christians Bear Killing, Rape and Destruction

Thursday, April 10, 2003

April 10, 2003

Charlottesville, VA (Christian Aid) -- Refugees returning to Burundi still face murder, rape and destruction at the hands of rebels and even of the police, according to reports received by Christian Aid.

Despite a peace accord and cease fire having been signed by three of Burundi's four rebel factions, fighting and terrorism continue. "They are still killing, raping to death young women, destroying houses and cattle," a Burundi mission leader told Christian Aid. He said that rebels raped 20 young women from the church in one district.

Despite the violence, many refugees are coming back home from exile in Tanzania and Congo. "They come naked and sick," the leader said. "Often they are caught at the border and beaten to death by police or by other refugees.

Still reeling from the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda and subsequent nine years of unrest, attempts are being made to form a transition government to keep all parties happy. All the rebel goups are Hutus, and many fear that the genocide in Rwanda could happen in Burundi, also. "The spirit of genocide still inflames the region," the leader said.

In the midst of this hatred, many hearts are hungry for spiritual reality. A local businessman was chronically ill and called for the local priest. After a week of no change, the desperate man called the local missionary who had planted a small evangelical church. The missionary prayed for the man and he was healed.

"Those who heard and saw the miracle were convinced that there is a mighty God trustworthy to be worshiped," the leader said. They forsook their idols and turned to the Lord, taking the church membership from 90 to 500.

"We are waiting for God to do the same thing in many parts of the country," the leader said and asked for prayer as they wage a battle against dark spirits in the name of Christ.

To learn how you can provide support or to learn more about indigenous ministry in this region write insider@christianaid.org and put MI-414 576-MCM on the subject line.