20.6.20

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

(intro from Eric)

Today's post comes happily from the oft-underheard voices of a couple of our team teenagers.  I suppose one of the should-be-expected effects of having a team with multiple teenagers is that they grow in independence.  Meaning they are doing things which you're not even aware of (me being their teammate, not parent).  Like writing a blog.  Together.  Awesome.

Ella Sund and Matea Watts write together on "Our African Home", and we wanted to repost their recent post "Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly."  It's a joy to watch them wrestling with current events from their unique perspective as third-culture kids who have grown up in Africa.  Even more so, it's a joy to see them approaching these questions from the perspective as children of God, loved and adopted by "Data wa twese" (Kirundi for "the Father of us all").

On similar themes, Serge leadership has posted this blog on Seeking Justice Together.

***

(from Ella Sund and Matea Watts)

Black lives matter. They always have. They always will.

I wish that I could write a poem, something deep and profound that makes people long for change and justice. But as I’m sitting here now, I’m speechless over the brokenness of my country and the pain of my black brothers and sisters that has been going on for far too long. We know that this is a mess, and it is far from enough. But we cannot stay silent.

What did we do to be born with white skin? Nothing, we had no control. George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Amaud Arbery, and so, so many more had no control. Yet their lives were taken for it. They were given injustice while we were given privilege. And even though we did not ask for this privilege, we must use it for change. 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

In the community that we were raised in, we were surrounded by Black people. They were our neighbors, our classmates, our friends, our siblings. People we care for, people we love, and people that show the same Jesus-love back to us. It is earth-shattering to me that someone would ever think that they were less than ANYONE else. We are all created in God’s image. Everyone deserves the same respect, the same love, the same grace that we would want shown to us, because that’s what Jesus tells us to do. Jesus never once showed bias. He loved each of His children equally. 

Romans 2:11 – For God shows no partiality. 

God acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly. That is exactly what He calls us to do not just right now, but always.

I’ve felt so helpless these past few weeks. I’m a white, teenage female. What can I do?

I can listen. I can repent. I can educate myself. I can have tough conversations with my family and my friends. I can love. I can humble myself. I can stand firm in the truth. I can work to stand up against racism every day. I am young, but that gives me all the more time to make a difference.

Pray. It is so powerful, more than we know. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Pray for all the people that aren’t being shown love from others on this earth. Pray to be able to show love, and that one day, we would be seen as equal in this land, as we will be before the throne of God.

We will make mistakes. We will never truly understand.

But we stand with you, and we love you.

17.6.20

A Nation Mourns

by John Cropsey



Burundi is in mourning.  On Tuesday last week, the government announced that His Excellency President Pierre Nkurunziza died on Monday, June 8th from a cardiac arrest.  He was 55.

Agence France-Presse - Getty Images
In the eyes of many who suffered decades of brutal violence and oppression, he was a national hero who ushered the country into a time of relative peace after 12 years of civil war. The whole country is observing a week of mourning and the East African Community is flying flags at half-staff until his burial.

After 15 years in power, President Nkurunziza was in the process of stepping down, and we are very thankful for peaceful elections that took place last month.  Pray for Burundi's President-Elect, Evariste Ndayishimiye.  This week the Constitutional Court decided that he will be sworn in as soon as possible rather than await his planned inauguration in August.  This ceremony will take place tomorrow. Like all current world leaders, he faces unprecedented challenges in our time, so please remember him in prayer.

4.6.20

The Conference That Would Have Been

by Julie Banks

Now that we are back in the United States on Home Ministry Assignment (HMA), many conversations seem to start with “What we thought we were going to do…” or “Had COVID-19 not happened we would have…” or “Our plans originally were…” and so on.  The virus has completely changed so many of the world’s plans for this Spring. 

One of the biggest changes in our plans as Serge missionaries was the cancellation of our company-wide conference.  Once every four years, fellow workers from 25 countries around the world gather together to celebrate what God is doing in each of our fields.  It’s a cornerstone on our life calendar.  Many of us plan on it, look forward to it, and anticipate it for years.

That conference would have been happening this week.

Our first Serge conference was in 2016.  It was our first year being a part of the mission agency, but we had not yet arrived in Burundi because we were still in language school in France.  We knew a few of the 500+ people, but for the most part we were meeting new people the entire week. I watched others hug each other tightly, marvel at how each other’s kids had grown, and chuckle over inside jokes.  It was like a family reunion.  I remember thinking, “Next conference that will be me!”  I looked forward to being able to say, “It’s so good to see you again!” Instead of, “It’s so nice to meet you.”

The Serge conference lasts 2 weeks and is held at a beachside resort in Europe.  The first week provides a space for Team Leaders, Board Members, and Executive Leaders to have vital conversations and encourage each other as they lead hundreds of workers in a variety of different missions around the world. 

The second week of the conference is for all workers.  We worship together (in English!) and are treated to sermons and messages from some amazing speakers.  There are also breakout sessions for us on numerous topics such as finance, parenting, depression, and more. 

Wisdom from Debbie Harrell, Serge's Overseas Educational Advisor at the 2016 conference
Each of the 40 teams share with the entire group what they are doing and how we can pray for them.  In fact, I searched the Word and Deed archives and found the Serge Kibuye team’s update video from 2016!

It’s so faith-building to hear what God is doing all over the globe through Serge missionaries.  Serge is bringing new life to communities through visual, poetic, musical and other forms of art.  Serge is planting gospel-centered churches that are thriving with national pastors.  Serge is establishing businesses in order to support local livelihoods and develop thriving relationships – often in closed-access communities and countries.  And of course Serge has medical teams with which we are very well acquainted! 

But the week is not all about work.  There is time to rest by the pool and splash in the ocean.
Our family at the Serge Conference in 2016
Meal times are purposefully long, and evening chats last well into the night.  Serge’s Executive Director, Bob Osborne, heads up a famous bocce ball tournament every conference that remains a talking point for years!

The kids love the conference too.  Serge goes out of their way to love on our children. They do crafts, sing songs, and play sports.  They talk about the hard stuff like the struggles they face as TCKs (Third Culture Kids). But they also just have a blast!  Dance parties, glow sticks, and plenty of silliness. 

Our boys enjoying time with a fellow TCK in 2016
Today, Serge marked the “conference that would have been” with a huge video conference call.  We joined with over 200 little squares on our screen that represented over 200 families, over 200 praises for what God has done, and over 200 needs to lift up.  We waved at each other across the globe, prayed for each other, and had a few laughs.  God is at work.  In us and through us.  We are not alone.  It was still encouraging to be a part of what God is doing, even from our couch in Springfield, Missouri. 


Serge Conference 2020
But, we will all be together again soon!  We are hoping to have the conference again in person next year.  Get ready, Bob!  The Burundi bocce ball team will be ready!