We left Bujumbura at 9:30, after eating breakfast with Willy.
We have had a lot of struggle with transportation. We weren’t planning to spend 4 days in Burundi so Willy hadn’t planned for us. He found cars each day but we feel we are paying too much for them. There is also a fuel shortage so he is sitting at the fueling station at 6:00am each day and then he arrives at our hotel when he’s done. This morning was 8:00, yesterday was 8:30.
We arrived at the prison about 11:00am. We don’t believe Willy had been there before. He had to ask directions when we got to the town.
The female second officer (officer’s assistant) said we were the first white men (Muzungu) to come to their prison. We were allowed to take photos before, during and after the service. There were about 100 inmates at the service. The “room” was about 25′ x 35′ and was actually a covered courtyard on the opposite side of the entry gate from the main prison courtyard. There were a couple cell on this side of the prison along with the outdoor kitchen. I believe the cells may may have been the women’s cells.
It was difficult to count how many came forward and it was very crowded at the front of the room. We also couldn’t really tell who had come forward to kneel down and who was still seated. It seemed to be about 50. Willy said there are 600-800 inmates at that prison. I have a photo of the population board on my camera.
One inmate named Love asked my name and what it meant. I told him I am named after the Prophet Nathan. He said if his child is born again he will name him Nathan. I don’t know if the interpretation is correct ( I don’t know if he meant he will name him after me if he is born again or if he meant when he is born) but I was humbled. I had Don take my photo with him.
We threw candy to the children on the way back. We also took a lot of video of the kids that swarmed our car while we got gas.
At one of the road blocks (security checks) the officer, when told who we were and what we were doing, asked us to come preach at the Police camp. We said we would go now but he asked us to come Sunday or Monday, neither of which worked for us, but he asked us to come there next time.
Meeting with Pastor Kiza and his ministry partner and translator Naba:
They arrived around 4:00pm and we took them to the Amahora Hotel for a meeting and then treated them to dinner. Kiza was sorry that we weren’t able to come to Uvira. He said that he had communicated with GVT and Jamie back in April that there were some problems in Goma but he asked them to pray for the situation and it has since been resolved. He assured us that when he has guests in his country it is of utmost importance to him that they are safe. If there was a problem he would have let us know. He assured us that we could have come and gone from Congo each day if we didn’t feel comfortable staying the night in Uvira. He had made arrangements with the authorities before we came and they were expecting us. He has a great relationship with the officials and they, therefore, when they heard that we were coming as we’re his guests, they welcomed us and signed the forms necessary for the embassy to grant our VISAs, which explains why the VISA application process was so easy and fast. Now that we weren’t coming they were perplexed and wondered why we hadn’t come, after all.
Don talked to Kiza about the possibility of finding a pastor in Zambia since GVT would like to move into Zambia if the door is opened. Kiza said that Claude Nususu is in Lumbabashi and he has a contact in Zambia. Kiza said that at our last visit here in 2011 he had said he would work to get someone from Zambia to a conference in the future.
I also met a man from Zambia who attended our conference in Malawi in June. I will ask Sydon how he came to find us and came to our conference and how he knows him.
We had a nice time together. I was able to see that Kiza has a real heart for the Lord and has a great ministry. I wish we had spent time in Congo as planned but, nonetheless, he caused the events to take place for a reason. Whether it was to teach us (which it certainly has in many ways) or for our safety or some other reason, I trust that everything came to pass exactly as he planned it.
We treated them to a great meal. They were both very appreciative. We finished at 7:00pm and had to leave to meet with Willy. We took a couple quick photos with Kiza and Naba and then went upstairs to meet with Willy.