A bicycle wobbled down a dusty trail in Gitega, with a young rider trying to navigate a bike alone for his first time. A few friends and I took turns holding him up as he crawled aboard, and awkwardly took off again down the trail. He could muster up a few pushes each time before the hillside caught him, landing with a less-than-graceful thud and puff of dust. Brushing himself off, he would wait for the rest of us to catch up, hold the bike, and do it again. After a few turns, one of his young comrades would then insist they could do it better, climb aboard, and yield similar results. With each tip over, the peanut gallery of pushers would give their instruction on why the bike fell over. After their knees were dirty, they bore a few battle scratches, and made great progress for a single afternoon, we called it a day. On our way back to the house, they eagerly returned the bicycle to the generous watchman who let us borrow it. Each young enthusiast was already excited to try it again the next day after school was dismissed.
These closing weeks in Burundi have brought a close to a lot of things. As is necessary, transitions bring a loosening of ties, a change in relationship, and release of responsibilities. Despite the difficulty of transition, there is something also distinctly beautiful about the investment and subsequent release of responsibilities to other people. Much like teaching a child to ride a bicycle, eventually, you have to let go of the seat. Hanging on too long will only stifle the learning curve of the eager cyclist. Will there be times where a person fails? All of us fail when we are learning, and sometimes even when we are experienced. Yet, holding on to responsibility that can be given away to another adequate and willing apprentice causes more harm than good.
This time is full of transitions, both for Carley and myself. We have been investing in other people and looking ahead to a future time, when we won’t be in Burundi, but when they will be the future leaders, teachers, and influences of the next generation.
There have been particular moments of absolute encouragement and preparation for these transitions. I have been seeing various leaders begin taking the tools they have been given and sharing them with others. At other times, it is a joy to see them take hold of a teaching and live it out in their life. Even further, one of my greatest joys, is not even seeing the lives of my closest leaders changed, but seeing those that they have had an opportunity to influence lives’ changed. When these things are happening, Godly teaching and influence beyond myself and beyond my own doing, that sparks such great joy.
It can be difficult to let go of a role and responsibilities. However, I have seen in the lives of people around me that one individual who is willing to share not only Jesus Christ, but his life with a few others, can leave a legacy that will last into eternity. Our willingness to invest in people, and release them to do the same with others can bring about change that lasts beyond our lifetime.
Whatever season we find ourselves in, whether we are holding up a wobbly cyclist, letting go, or are the very ones preparing for another dusty attempt down an unknown path, I pray that God my lead and guide us!