Feb. 21, 2013 / Those That We Know


Sometimes in our lives we see things that we don’t want to see.

My friend Jean Claude and I looked around the crowded streets, packed with people. The image that hasn’t left me lately is watching children run out in front of cars, not moving as the vehicle approached, motioning they are hungry to the driver, and not caring if the car would hit them or not. Police and army personnel with assault rifles guarded much of the remains of local businesses, keeping them away from a large perimeter of the center of town, where a skeleton of the old market lays. It was hard to talk over all the crying and commotion. Jean Claude is a counseling major at a local university. He is a local of Burundi and this is what he knows. We had gone together to meet with many of the traumatized victims of the recent chaos. While talking and praying for many, I asked my friend, “What is the best way to help? There are so many”. He wisely responded, “There are too many to help everyone, but…”

“…we can help those that we know.”

That line really struck a chord in me. Through so many of your generous efforts, we have been helping those we know. It has been a pleasure seeing Thomas recently. His big grin is more of a common place along with laughter. It was such a challenge seeing that taken away. It would be such a burden when you have no idea how to feed our spouse, children, or provide a place to sleep. A burden I can’t understand.

It is not that money is the answer, but it is a useful tool and a terrible master.

When used as a tool, it can be used to keep children in school, feed families, provide a bed, and more. It is hard to know there are thousands in similar situations that we don’t know. People who have had their life savings and businesses burned in front of them or victims of the massive increase in robbery here in Bujumbura due to the crisis.

Despite the troubling thought of so many being in difficult situations the last few weeks, we rejoice that we have been able to do what we can for those we know. We are listening and looking for other families like Thomas. We pray we will be well prepared when that time comes.


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