By Pastor David Hino
Half-way through the journey in Uganda, living in a newly built home filled with Burundians who have fled their country just because they were young. Time stops in this place. Breakfast is whenever, sometimes 11 am and lunch may happen as late at 4:30 pm. Family gatherings occur after late night dinners making for a long day. Appointments never happen “on-time” but do happen.
The word “refugee” is becoming a distasteful word. These Burundians are precious people who have hopes, dreams, and fears just like anyone. Young people who had to leave goals of becoming doctors and engineers behind in Burundi. Many ran for their lives even without saying goodbye to their parents. They saw many including best friends lose their lives. I am touched by these wonderful people in their sincerity, integrity, gentleness, kindness, graciousness, hard work and compassion.
I’ve had deep one-on-one times hearing the horror stories of the past and sharing about the things of God. When asked, the Burundians will share their hearts.
Wednesday night was a special moment in the life of the community. I was able to relate my experience and share the loss of my dear friend Esther who died the night before and meeting their year-long friend Esther who came to visit them on Wednesday afternoon. The pain of death can grip our past and hinder our future. Wednesday proved to be a pivotal night for the Burundians and me to face the pain of death and move forward. As we prayed, there was a shift in the atmosphere and joy erupted in singing and dance. Dancing that had been held back for over a year, exploded into a wild celebration of healing and victory.
Thursday morning, the past and present came together as two family members from Burundi showed up—one was totally unexpected—to reunite again after a year’s absence. It was God’s perfect timing because of what happened the night before, and the explosion of joy went to a different level of crying and screaming.
We brought a shofar for them to own and play and they practice continually. One guy has gotten really good in a short time, and may be the unofficial shofar player.
We continue to network with Pastor Alex and Millie from Bombo Pentecostal Assembly of God church. They are wonderful leaders with deep wisdom and a Kingdom heart that touches thousands of people in the area. What a godly couple whom I have come to admire and trust.
At last night’s JHR family time we were literally carried away in a dance that is wonderfully powerful. One-by-one, individuals are hoisted up and carried around joyfully and victoriously. At a physical and spiritual level, we carry each other. We honor each other. We lift the person before God. I told Makinto and his son that we have a new dance movement for The Light, our home church in California.
Mukarabe is such a wonderful, powerful leader and a mother to many. It is a joy to walk alongside her and to see her love, speak into lives, and create. Makinto is father to many here and provided incredible leadership in a masterfully arranged soccer match between Ugandas and Burundians.He even shared Jesus to both teams which included some from other faiths.
Later today we will celebrate the opening of the Joyful House of Refuge and tomorrow will share at Bombo Pentecostal Assembly of God church. While I feel ready to come home, there is more to come.