A farewell to the McCropders and the Serge Kibuye Team from John and Jessica Cropsey
To every thing there is a season…
In the case of the McCropders, God ordained for us 4,986 days together. That is nearly 14 years of life lived together in common purpose on a journey that spanned three continents and four countries, ten of those years as members of the Serge Kibuye Team. It has been a tremendous honor to be counted among such a band of sojourners. You have been our everything in so many ways: friends, family as “aunts” and “uncles” to our kids, neighbors, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, counselors, doctors, running buddies,
piki (motorcycle in Kiswahili) partners, fellow vacationers, and more.
piki (motorcycle in Kiswahili) partners, fellow vacationers, and more.
McCropders in the early years
Alma with Uncle John -- looks like she's having fun?
This team was born under incredibly unique circumstances — 4 specialist doctors from the same church who “just happened” to be finishing their different residency programs (of differing lengths) at the same time, and all with a heart for medical missions. And God grew the team, adding more amazing people, each gifted to meet specific needs and created uniquely to form the beautiful tapestry that is the Serge Kibuye team. Love, medicine, teaching, music, administration, fear of snakes, humor, patience, vision, construction, pastoring, resilience, language, biblical exegesis, spreadsheets, writing, calm, passion, fashion, IT, hospitality, generosity, frugality — and a million other gifts and quirks have been woven into each of you that made our time with you so amazing. May God continue to bless the colorful mosaic that is found at Kibuye.
A time to plant…
What has been planted at Kibuye during our years together is mind-blowing. As we blazed a trail with machetes, axes and hoes for our future houses back in 2013, I remember thinking how exciting/insane it was that our team and Hope Africa University were attempting to develop a teaching hospital so remote it was only a stone’s throw from the southern most source of the Nile, a place Dr. David Livingston died trying to find in vain. Wild! Relationships have been developed, wells drilled, buildings built, training developed, healthcare advanced, hospital chaplaincy reinforced, and students discipled.
A time to harvest…
Despite innumerable challenges — cultural blunders, coups, counter-coups, shortages of many kinds (medicine/water/fuel/power/internet), health emergencies, physical and spiritual attacks, pandemics — God has allowed a great harvest. We have seen our unofficial team motto come to fruition, “We aren’t the best people for this job, our students are.” Hundreds of medical students have been trained and many of them are now caring for the sick and the poor in Jesus’ name throughout Burundi and beyond. Thanks to the ministry of our chaplains and students, thousands of patients have committed their lives to Christ while at Kibuye. Ten thousand plus blind, lame or otherwise infirm Burundians have received restorative surgery and hundreds of thousands have been treated clinically. The Lord of the Harvest has been at work.
A time to laugh…
Mixed in with all of that blood, sweat and tears, was a whole lot of fun too — board games, card games, camping adventures, exploring anything and everything on dirt bikes, the weekly ultimate frisbee game, Christmas floor hockey, pizza oven parties, outdoor movie nights — shoot, even our business meetings weren’t too bad. There is something special about the slower pace of rural mission life (outside of the hospital that is) that affords for such blessings.
A time to die…
As followers of Christ, we are called to bear our cross daily and to die to self. Without death, there is no resurrection. For so many around the world these past eighteen months, that has taken on new meaning, us included. During that time, God used an unrelenting series of events and circumstances to seemingly and unexpectedly be showing us that we had accomplished what He had set out for our family at Kibuye and it was our time to leave. Obeying that call meant the loss of many things for us personally, not the least of which was our much loved team and our physical home in this world, but also the big dreams we had for Kibuye and Burundi. Our decision also had significant, complex implications for our Burundian friends, colleagues, national partners and teammates who have all born a cost for our decision in different ways. Thus, on many fronts, our departure has felt like death.
A time to weep…
In life, and especially in missions, there are a lot of goodbyes, so one of the things we have learned is that saying good goodbyes is really important even though it feels more painful in the moment. And so, the month of June was spent visiting Burundian friends in their homes, attending special events, saying farewells on our front porch and visiting special/memorable places. Many tears were shed, especially when we drove away from Kibuye on July 4th and said our final goodbye to our team. Pray for us and others as we continue to mourn.
A time to heal…
Pray for our Burundian friends and partners. Pray that God would allow them to forgive us where we have caused them hurt and loss. Pray for our team as they have to take much of our load when there is already a crushing weight of responsibility. Pray for the eye team to be unified, to learn and to grow.
Pray for our family this month. We are dedicating this next month to reflection on the journey we have just completed. Pray for our counselors to be full of wisdom and insight as we seek to understand more fully what God has for us to learn. Pray for insight and repentance for where we have fallen short and faith to trust the riches we have in Christ to redeem us and our brokenness. Pray for hope and our future. We do not mourn as others, because we have hope. We believe in resurrection. God is still at work weaving His story in our lives and we look forward to seeing where and with whom He will lead us next. We hope to continue the fight against needless blindness in Africa.
We wish Hope Africa University, Kibuye Hope Hospital and the Serge Kibuye Team all the best as they continue to pursue their high calling to train and disciple health professionals for Burundi and beyond.
God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
— Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (ESV)
And so, we sign off from this blog as writers (not readers). If you would like to know more about the progress of the Kibuye Eye Clinic over the last 8 years and some of the reasons behind our decision to transition out of Burundi, you can read our last two newsletters here and here. If you’d like to continue following our family for whatever lies ahead and receive our quarterly e-mail updates, please write us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.