Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dancing with the President (Burundi)

Burundi has the same “Country Threat Security Warning Level” as Iraq! The most dangerous level of 5.

But God is at work here. When we arrived last Sunday our hosts casually said “we’ll be by at 6 to take you to dinner at the President’s house.” The first thought this ole Iowa farm boy had was “Huh? I’ve not even taken a tour of our US White House, and we’re going to DINNER at the Burundi Prez’s house?”

His Excellency, President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi (middle of pic on left), accepted Christ as his Savior about two years ago. Now each Sunday evening he has a worship time (this week’s was 3 hours!), followed by dinner. Sometimes he invites local pastors, sometimes international ministry guests visiting Burundi. This week there was a couple from Sweden, 3 other pastors from Texas doing leadership training, our team, plus the nationals hosting each of us.

I’ve never been hugged by a President before. I’ve never danced to praise music with a President before. I’ve never worshipped with a President before. God holds the hearts of kings in His hands. He certainly has a good grip on the President here. Please pray that God will honor his obedience by changing Burundi and bringing peace after more than a decade of civil war.

The President also has his own soccer team that plays around Africa. Its name: “Allelujah FC”!

One more highlight of the night. Two years ago a Burundi pastor named Jérémie attended our leadership conference in Rwanda. I can still remember standing in the lobby of the hotel on my way to the airport. As we shook hands goodbye, Jérémie said “please, please, please come to Burundi.” I gave my standard answer of “we’ll pray, and if God opens the door, we’ll come.”

As I was ushered to my seat at the Burundi “White House,” I was seated right next to Jérémie! God confirmed in those surprising moments that He indeed wanted us there. He gave me good news—his church now has planted 9 churches in Burundi and Zambia, and are planning one in Tanzania soon.

Africa Trip Score: Uganda done / Rwanda done / Burundi completing / off to Ethiopia for last stop.

Mike Jorgensen

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rwanda Stop on Africa Tour

My heart continues to break here in Africa, this time in Rwanda. Once again, people were touched deeply by Joselian’s testimony of living as HIV+. She shared that she doesn’t know which of these 3 ways she was infected—

· Her first husband who died
· Her second husband who left her
· Being hacked by machetes with blood on them during the genocide.

She survived one holocaust only to be infected by another horror. But now she spends her time ministering to the needs of others. God is using her to bring His hope and love to fellow Rwandans. Now she’s trained to share simple truths about HIV/AIDS.

The AIDS Cube training was part of our normal church planting leadership conference. We look upon our training as—

Lecture + Laboratory

Ground School + Flight School

Vision + Action

We always try to build practice time into our leadership conferences. We don’t want people to go home and put yet another notebook on their shelf.

Practice on Day One was prayer walking. Day Two was evangelism for about an hour. 222 people prayed to receive Christ! Hallelujah! The people were so happy, that two of the pastors decided to stay in that area for a few weeks to start 2 new churches in the big area where the people accepted Christ. They also took up an offering to get two new baby churches off the ground!

Plus, about 10 nursing students prayed to receive Christ as their Savior during the HIV/AIDS Cube practice time! Another example of this new tool opening the door to present the love of Christ.

Here's picture of them practicing to use the HIV/AIDS Cube.

Here they hear the gospel from a Rwanda e3 trainer.

Please continue to pray for our Burundi conference going on now (Sept 24-26), plus our last stop in Ethiopia this Friday and Saturday (Sept 28-29).


Mike Jorgensen

Friday, September 21, 2007

Africa Tour / Stop 1 / Uganda

God gave us a divine appointment our first day in Uganda. A lady was at the hotel selling handmade necklaces. She had a sign that she was with TASO [The AIDS Support Organization]. Jeff Sheets struck up a conversation with her, and learned she is HIV+. She makes the bracelets, baskets, etc. to sell to support herself and her 3 kids.

Her husband died of AIDS several years ago. He was a truck driver for the UN, running back and forth between Uganda and Kenya. He knew he was infected, but didn’t tell her until his HIV developed into AIDS. At the funeral, or thereabouts, she found out he had 2 other wives with kids in other cities.

Janet (at left) now is a born again believer. She sells stuff to make a living, but her passion is HIV/AIDS awareness training and encouragement. She said she no longer is sad she has it, because God has used her situation to change many people’s lives.

We invited her to share at the HIV/AIDS Cube training. She gave her testimony and everyone was riveted. Then we went to a clinic and shared with ladies waiting for treatment. She knew everyone at the hospital, and presented to all the ladies. The HIV/AIDS “practice” presentation was followed by the gospel. Several prayed to receive Christ.

A huge problem here is stigma. People often are ostracized because others are afraid they’ll be infected if they shake hands or even get close to HIV+ people. Often people just want to die because they’re so lonely. Or they get bitter and want to infect others—“if I die, I want to take others with me” as one person put it. So they don’t tell anyone, and end up spreading it even more. So learning the truth hopefully will reduce the fear, and thereby the stigma. Plus, and this is The Major Plus, this whole thing opens the door for discussions about real hope and love of God through Jesus Christ.

One thing we have heard over and over from many leaders—government, AIDS organizations, business leaders, as well as church leaders: it is only life change through a relationship with Christ that makes a difference.

This fits in with our prayer, that the Lord would use this tool to bring many into His kingdom and plant many new churches.

Please continue to pray for us as we head next to Rwanda for church planting training Sept 20-23, which also will include AIDS Cube training.
After that to Burundi and Ethiopia.

Mike Jorgensen

Uganda: True Hope Through Christ

Praying to receive Christ after 1) HIV/AIDS Cube presentation followed by 2) presentation of gospel using EvangeCube.

Uganda HIV/AIDS Cube "Practice"

Janet (on left) and Josephine (but now everyone calls her "Miracle") share the truths about HIV/AIDS with the new HIV/AIDS Cube.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Africa: 4 Countries in 15 Days

Four African countries in 15 days.

Sometimes I wonder “what in the world were you thinking when you set that up, Mike?” But then I think all the people who might be spared untold agony and grief because of a pilot project we are doing. Not only spared for eternity, but also spared in this life.

25 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, according to UN estimates. Almost 3 million new infections each year. Some estimate there are 12 million kids orphaned in that region because of AIDS.

Tremendous hurt. Tremendous need. Tremendous open door for the love of Christ to be extended by planting new churches.

So we’ve developed a new Cube. A new Cube that hopefully will open many, many doors for sharing the gospel with the EvangeCube. This new tool is called the HIV/AIDS Cube. Through pictures people can easily learn what HIV/AIDS is, how you get it, how you don’t get it, symptoms, precautions to take, and how to care for those already infected.

This trip is to do a pilot project testing in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia. We want to see what people think of it. The EvangeCube makes sharing the gospel easy. Will this HIV/AIDS Cube do the same? How can we use it to also introduce people to the Great Physician? How can we teach churches to reach out to people with the love of Christ using this tool?

--Pray for wisdom as we learn from our African brothers and sisters, who have lived with this pandemic in ways we don’t understand.

--Pray for God to use this tool to expand His kingdom for His glory.

--Pray for our team (Dr. Zege Tsige, Jeff Sheets, Casey See and me) as we travel Sept 14 to Oct 1.

Thanks for praying.

Mike Jorgensen