Though it may not make international headline news, the scale of this disaster is difficult to comprehend for those of us who have never lived in Bujumbura. Here is a quote from Rebecca Mosley, a Mennonite missionary in the capital that gives some sense of the immediate and ongoing impact this destruction of the commercial center of the city/nation will have:
"Up to a thousand households have lost their savings and income. There will be a direct humanitarian crisis for these people. Most businesses were run on credit and those creditors won't see their funds back, in most cases. This will also affect many banks that capitalized vendors in the market [and] the supply lines for most local products in Burundi [that] passed through the central market. Vendors who work in other locations lost their supply lines. Farmers from up-country will have to reorganize also to get their goods to market... All Bujumbura transport passes through the central market [and] will all have to be reorganized...There will almost certainly be a recession in Burundi, but it's hard to imagine how the situation here could get any worse, with high levels of inflation, devaluing currency, average daily wages not at all keeping pace with the most modest costs of living."
One of our friends has sponsored a Burundian Christian family who just lost their livelihood in the blaze and has forwarded us the father's response to their loss: "My little children ask what will happen to us, and I tell them that God is faithful, but will He be this time?"
It can feel trite or even false to recite those assurances of old when new tragedy strikes, but these are the very same times when Asaph and David, Isaiah and Habakkuk wrote (emphasis added):
Psalm 50:14,15 "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
Psalm 52:8,9 "But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank You forever, because You have done it. I will wait for Your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly."
Isaiah 55:1 "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
Habakkuk 3:17,18 "Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stall, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."
It is no small thing for God's people to pray, persistently and deliberately for Him to act. Would you join the McCropder team in praying and fasting for the people of Bujumbura and Burundi? Would you ask alongside us that somehow, in God's sovereignty, this tragedy might unite the nation, heal old wounds, and draw people to Christ? And if He moves you to some additional action of aid, please contact one of us for help in so doing.