General Conference President Ted Wilson Pens Open Letter Alleging Religious Liberty Abuse by Burundi Government

(Spectrumbot) #1

Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared on the Adventist News Network and is reprinted here in its entirety:

I am earnestly appealing to Seventh-day Adventist church members, and others worldwide, to begin a strong, worldwide prayer initiative for our members and church organization in the central African country of Burundi, who are experiencing systematic religious liberty abuse by the government. For more than six months, the Burundi government has increasingly harassed and abused the Seventh-day Adventist Church by imprisoning, beating, and intimidating Seventh-day Adventist church leaders and members.

The government has prevented the ability of the Adventist Church to function through our duly-elected leadership of the Burundi Union Mission, who were appropriately, and legally, appointed by the East-Central Africa Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. It is apparent the wonderful Total Member Involvement activities of God’s people to help others through Christ’s method of dealing with people physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually, have not been valued by the government of Burundi.

During this time, I have personally appealed to the president of Burundi with no response from his office. We now call on him and his government ministries to adhere to international law, United Nations protocols, and Organization of African Union precepts, to honor religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all citizens of Burundi and the legitimate Seventh-day Adventist administrative team in the country.

On Friday, May 10, the duly appointed president of the Burundi Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Lamec Barishinga, was arrested along with Pastor Lambert, a local field president. This is completely illegal, unethical, and against all logical and international protections of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

I call on all Seventh-day Adventists to pray for our church members in Burundi, for religious liberty in that country, and for the release of all imprisoned Seventh-day Adventists. Please pray until we see God’s mighty hand changing this dire situation in Burundi. I appeal to the governments of all nations around the world, and especially in Africa, to intercede with the Burundi government on behalf of religious liberty for the people of Burundi and specifically for Seventh-day Adventists who are being abused by that country’s government.

This is “Day Number 4” in this highly unjust and illegal interference by the Burundi government into the ecclesiastical activities of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by arresting our duly-appointed Burundi Union president. Please pray intently and unceasingly around the globe for religious freedom for God-fearing church members in Burundi.

We will provide periodic updates to this abuse of religious liberty in Burundi and note the number of days of religious injustice until it is corrected. Please pray and advocate for abused church members in Burundi as the God of all the universe intervenes according to His almighty power.

TO OUR FAITHFUL SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST MEMBERS IN BURUNDI: You are not forgotten. Your world church family, with millions of members globally, is praying for you. Stay faithful to God’s biblical truths and to the legitimate Seventh-day Adventist Church structure, appointed by the East-Central Africa Division, as you claim the following Bible promises:

“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

“You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22.

“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8. “Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:8.

Take courage from Revelation 2:10, “….Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Please know that I have personally prayed for all of you as church members and for Pastor Lamec Barishinga, our legitimate president of the Burundi Union Mission, Pastor Lambert, and the 21 others who have been imprisoned. Be of good courage. God will see you through. I have also prayed for the government of Burundi, that it will provide religious liberty to its citizens and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Burundi.

Ted N C Wilson, president

Seventh-day Adventist Church

Silver Spring, Maryland

United States of America

Photo courtesy of ANN.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

It would be instructive if the charges against the Adventist’s were listed and explained. What is the basis of their arrest.? Can it become a pattern?

(Steve Mga) #3

We have NO IDEA from this communication from President Wilson what he
actually alludes to, or what precipitated singling out the SDA church, or
IF PERHAPS there are other Christian organizations who are having similar

Perhaps Spectrum could give us a clear, definitive view of the Religious scene
in Burundi.

(Kim Green) #4

Burundi has a horrible Human Rights track record. I wouldn’t be shocked if this has happened to other denominations there…perhaps they are picking on the smaller religious “fish” for now. I hope and pray that nothing devious happens to the arrested people to make them “disappear”. :frowning:

Read and weep…


There are 17 comments (latest posted today) to this Wilson Prayer Appeal that was posted on Adventist News Network.

These comments by Ndizeye Isaie are of interest: “Prayers are needed for the East-Central Africa Division that has divided the people of Burundi, they need to respect the rule of law and Church policies. Politics has no place in the Church. Please, urge your fellow leaders to give you accurate information. This will help you address the real issues: it is all about people who are fighting for positions. They have nothing to do with religious liberty at all.”

Further: "Prayer is needed, but only for the leadership to listen, seek righteousness, and be humble in their actions. In addition, this is the time for the GC to show leadership, otherwise, Ellen White has warned, “He who does nothing but pray will soon cease to pray, or his prayers will become a formal routine.”


Where was his indignation and concern for those whose basic human rights and lives are being taken for merely living their biological truth?

Obviously, his concern begins and ends with those he deems acceptable for his denominational “club”.

(Frank Peacham) #7

Good point. Are SDA’s the only ones with difficulties?

Roman Catholic 62.1%, Protestant 23.9% (includes Adventist 2.3% and other Protestant 21.6%), Muslim 2.5%, other 3.6%, unspecified 7.9% (2008 est.)

Burundi is a densely populated country with a high population growth rate, factors that combined with land scarcity and poverty place a large share of its population at risk of food insecurity. About 90% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture. Subdivision of land to sons, and redistribution to returning refugees, results in smaller, overworked, and less productive plots. Food shortages, poverty, and a lack of clean water contribute to a 60% chronic malnutrition rate among children. A lack of reproductive health services has prevented a significant reduction in Burundi’s maternal mortality and fertility rates, which are both among the world’s highest. With two-thirds of its population under the age of 25 and a birth rate of about 6 children per woman. Source: CIA Factbook

(Kim Green) #8

Thank-you for this! Some of these comments are incredulous considering the real lack of Human Rights in this country. What do you make of all of it?


Not being “on the ground” I can only offer an assumption: The flavor of local comments seem to be consistent that a) the issue is a local church governance matter, and that b) the offended ousted office holder is using his influence with the local authorities for self-serving purposes…

(Kim Green) #10

Thank-you for your “assumption”…it is quite plausible. Strange church politics either way. For better or for worse the SDA church is under this abusive government’s microscope now. Nothing good is going to come of this fiasco.

(reliquum) #11

Thanks for that, original article would of course not report on personal gain abuses by one of the ordained . I was wondering why the Burundi headmastress was spanking the B.U.M. Sounds like the president deserves a good stiff spanking.

In other almost breaking gnus, Uncle Sam may want to know why Mr T. N. Clare Wilson continues to negate, berate, subjugate the gender of majority in his church. Lets write letters to him to ask why he supports such worldwide abuse at his own hands. That right there is religious liberty usurpation.

(Elmer Cupino) #12

I wonder whether our fearless GC president is aware of the parallels this issue has with his issue of WO. This “Burundi” issue is one side of the coin where WO is the other side.

Even a Wall Street advertising company would have a hard time spinning this campaign.


The ECD, removed the president of BUM before his term through executive action and appointed the new head. The reasons for the ouster of the former are vague, but he seems to have steered the church well.

The newly ECD appointed leader seems was imposed and thus rejected. The govt of Burundi has a low tolerance for tribal divisions and the action of ECD, seems to have fueled animosity. These are not strange in ECD as the tribal card has played in church matters esp in Kenya, it’s headquarters.

From comments most burundians side with the government actions. ECD should be investigated. There’s strife in the countries under the East Central Africa division, as pundits say has everything to do with elections in 2020


Sorry TW. Be transparent and DON’T obfuscate.
This issue is about Power, Internal Church Politics, Corruption
and NOT Religious Liberty!!
A clearer picture emerges when accessing the website referred to
by Mel Douglass, Post No 4, above.
Presently, in the Adventist Church, on the one hand there is LG Theology and TMI;
and on the other hand , situations such as this one (among well known others).
Cognitive Dissonance reigns!

(Phillip Brantley) #15

This episode is another illustration of the erosion of the GC’s strength and effectiveness during Ted Wilson’s presidency. That there is a GC compliance committee focused on women’s ordination but no compliance committee to deal with the criminals, grifters, and savages in Third World Seventh-day Adventism highlights how out of touch Wilson’s governance priorities have been. He has staked the entire credibility of the GC on a losing cause–opposition to women’s ordination–and in so doing, has transformed the GC into a feckless and irrelevant entity.

His political strategy of dividing the Seventh-day Adventist Church, allying himself with the majority in the Third World, and solidifying that support by fomenting animosity toward the minority, namely the NAD, has succeeded for him personally but has been harmful to the GC and the Church at large.

I wish we could do more than just extend to him our thoughts and prayers.

(George Tichy) #16

We live in very strange times in our Church. Times of inconsistency. Isn’t it hilarious seeing the same person putting a façade as defender of religious rights and liberty and at the same time being a leading discriminator-in-chief regarding women’s rights and liberty in his own Church?

Hypocrisy is going rogue these days…

(George Tichy) #17

Demagogic maneuvers and politiking like this work very well in the third world, and TW knows that well. So he is exploiting it as much as he can. It’s bad that the options are only, 1) He does not know what really happened there, and 2) He is just trying to save face and manipulate the public opinion. In either case, it is a deplorable situation. After all, this is the GC President, a man who considers himself appointed by God (sure…) to lead this Church.

(reliquum) #18

truth becoming lies, and lies becoming truth

(Carlo Schroeder) #19

Very strange, but all the sources I found have the same story.

(Carlo Schroeder) #20

What is abuse, because abuse takes on different forms and sometimes it is clothes in religious organizations. When pastors abuse their position, but take no responsibility for their actions, because the treasurer is the legal accountable to the law. Or women work over time for months, but don’t get paid. Is he talking about human rights violation, because it is happening here.