March 23, 2012/ Comparing Struggles Between Burundi and America

img_4047Hello Friends and Family,

I hope you are all doing well. Haylee has been with us in Buja all week  due to Easter break for her school. She was diagnosed with stomach parasites the day she got here, but she is on the mend thanks to your prayers. We are also looking forward to spending almost a week at the end of March in Bururi – the beautiful, cold providence I’ve written about – teaching a Bible camp to high school students. I am sure we will come back with wonderful stories and beautiful pictures to share!

This week I (Carley) would like to compare the struggles of Burundians and Americans.

Strangely, even though Americans and Burundians could not have more opposite lives and cultures, they both have very similar struggles. However, I have found that those hardships can be expressed differently.  One of the biggest struggles here is religion. People think that following Jesus means following the rules (i.e.: not drinking, not getting tattoos, etc…) and going to church on Sunday. This is expressed by a lot of guilt for things that don’t matter to Jesus, and not a lot of conviction for things that do matter to Jesus. The things that do matter to Jesus are dismissed as “cultural,” like being prejudice against another tribe, beating your wife, and accepting bribes. In America, I see the same problem. We have a lot of religion, and a lot of Christians, but it seems as we move closer to post modernistic views (you’re truth is right for you, and mine is right for me) as a society, we are losing a grasp on what following Jesus means. This may not look like having multiple wives and tribal prejudice, but I wonder how many things we say are “cultural” which are, in fact, completely wrong and are leading us away from the truth of who Jesus is.

Of course there are struggles that are totally different. The biggest one that comes to mind is the struggle of suppression. In America we are very open about our feelings, and we are encouraged that if we are depressed or angry, to express it and talk about it. That is purely cultural, and it has good aspects and bad aspects. In a good way, it helps people overcome things that are hard, but it also can lend itself to accepting wrong ways of “expressing” that may be harmful. In Burundi, they are told that talking about your feelings makes you weak. The downside to this is that almost every Burundian has witnessed firsthand the murder of someone they loved, and there is a lot of buried pain. There is one counselor for every 850 people in America, and when trying to figure out how many counselors there are in Burundi, I could only find two small organizations that do counseling for over 8 million people. It is clear that this is a huge struggle in Burundi, and it has potential to have very serious consequences if the pain and emotion in the hearts of people here are not dealt with appropriately.

Obviously, there are many struggles that each culture deals with, but those are two big ones that I have noticed. Bottom line: every culture is broken in some way and every culture needs Jesus to bring healing, not religion.

Carley

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