General Conference President Writes Letter to Adventist Members in Burundi

Adventist News Network's Editor’s Note: According to the East-Central Africa Division (ECD), [on] October 24, Burundi Union President, Lamec Barishinga was arrested on his way to the ECD year-end meetings in Nairobi, Kenya.

Below is a letter to the Adventist Church in Burundi from [General Conference] President, Ted N.C. Wilson.

ECD has issued a statement regarding the situation, which you can read here. For more information, and background on the situation in Burundi please see here and here.

Dear Seventh-day Adventist brothers and sisters in Burundi,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The videos and images of suffering Seventh-day Adventists victims of police brutality, which circulate in social media for all to see, have touched our hearts. We are aware of the intimidation, the persecution, the imprisonment of members, and the abuses and violence you are enduring. All this has become well documented. These difficulties also testify of your faithfulness to God and to his legitimate church in Burundi. The horrible sight of a woman dragged and beaten on the floor of a church has stirred indignation. Human beings created in the image of God and loyal citizens of the country of Burundi should never be treated as you have been which is now displayed on social media. This is certainly beneath the dignity of individuals created in the image of God.

We would like to wholeheartedly assure you of our prayers, our solidarity, and our support. During our recent Annual Council of the Executive Committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists held in Silver Spring, Maryland, at the world church headquarters, church leaders coming from many countries around the globe prayed for Pastor Lamec Barishinga, president of the Burundi Union of Seventh-day Adventists, and for the team of legitimate leaders and members of the church of Burundi entrusted to Pastor Barishinga’s care and spiritual leadership.

We now better understand what you are going through. As Jesus, our Lord, told us to do, we also want to encourage you to remain faithful to God and to his church. Jesus has promised, “…I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus also told his church in Smyrna, “I know your works, tribulation…” (Rev. 2:9)

Through this special message to you, I am calling upon the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist church to pray for you so that God will touch the hearts of those who inflict pain and suffering on you. May their hearts be changed. May they join the spiritual Christian community of peacemakers who are blessed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Please know that your spiritual faithfulness has become an example to Seventh-day Adventist members all over the world. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, keep your faith strong in the Lord. Maintain your vibrant hope in the soon second coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Continue to pray for God’s love to touch the hearts of those who inflict pain and suffering on you so they will be controlled by the Holy Spirit and not by another spirit.

Be encouraged in the midst of the trials you are going through that our Lord, Jesus Christ, will give you the crown of victory that He has promised to all who overcome through His power. What a wonderful God we serve. He will see us through to the final triumph of His Word and His kingdom. Be completely encouraged through the power of God in your lives. We are so grateful for you and your strong witness for God. We can say together, “Maranatha” – “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

With kind Christian regards and the prayers from your worldwide Seventh-day Adventist family,

Ted N C Wilson

President

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

This letter was originally published on the Adventist News Network. Image courtesy of ANN.

Further Reading:

East-Central Africa Division Issues Statement on Burundi Situation, October 31, 2019

Burundi Head of Seventh-day Adventist Church Arrested by Government, October 29, 2019

General Conference President Ted Wilson Pens Open Letter to Church Members in Burundi, August 13, 2019

East-Central Africa Division Issues Statement on Burundi Union Mission Controversy, July 1, 2019

General Conference President Ted Wilson Pens Open Letter Alleging Religious Liberty Abuse by Burundi Government, May 14, 2019

Seventh-day Adventist Church Appeals to Burundi Government, May 17, 2019

Commentary: What Seventh-day Adventists Face in Burundi, May 17, 2019

Adventist Detainees Released from Burundi Prison, May 21, 2019

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9982

If I may offer a suggestion: Perhaps the editors can add a brief note at the beginning describing the situation. For those of us outside of Burundi, it’s not clear anywhere in the article why the “legitimate leaders and members” are being persecuted, or by whom. The statement issued by the East-Central Africa Division mentions a “former leader” but offers no further clarity; is this a prior SDA Church leader who presumably carries considerable influence, a government official, or both? Certainly the violence portrayed is very disturbing. It’s really hard to understand exactly what is going on.

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WOW, it sounds like a new NT book, doesn’t it? However, if we read it attentively, we clearly notice that it’s nothing but saying that he is sending them his “thoughts and prayers.” And that’s all.

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We have witnessed a surge of third-world SDA financial corruption during Ted Wilson’s presidency. Burundi is just one example. A competent GC president would have foreseen and prevented this catastrophe. And a better man than Wilson would have prioritized financial integrity above his own reelection. I am still stunned by the revelation from Annual Council that many third-world SDA entities do not undergo financial audits for lack of either financials or willingness to submit to the process.

I remember the lunch I had with Alberto Timm during the spring of 2010. We talked about what Ted Wilson would need to do in order to be a successful GC president. (We both knew that he would be elected GC president). I told Timm that Wilson needs to surround himself not with pastors and other sycophants but with smart people who have expertise in law, political science, economics, sociology, and other important human sciences. This, Wilson has not done. And we are reaping what we have sown.

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Yes. Everything seems to be “hush” “hush”. Also NO Envoys being sent
to Burundi to help sort out the problem and to bring healing to the
severe Trauma to the Body of Christ over there.
Just a “we are praying for you.”

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He is Brazilian, right? I remember when he started his ministry, I was still in Brazil at that time. He got “radicalized” very quickly, thus making a good name for himself in Brazil. EGW’s follower for good.

I like Alberto. He’s a good scholar and very personable.

I’m confused. Was Pastor Ndikubwayo a “whistle-blower” who, though duly elected, was replaced by the General Conference with an un-elected apointee, Pastor Barishinga - whose wife had embezzeled millions of dollars of funds intended for the construction of a new hospital? If this is the case, then no wonder the church members in this area are having a problem with it. As it stands, it looks like the General Conference administration might be guilty of a criminal cover-up. It’s hard to get at the truth when Spectrum issues “press releases” that seem to contradict the stories coming from secular news services close to the conflict. We need some investigative journalism here to clear things up!

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Hi @efcee, et al.,

For the record, Spectrum is not “issuing” these press releases, which as clearly noted on each, have all come from the official church outlets (the General Conference and the East-Central Africa Division). We are simply sharing both the official press releases and what the secular news outlets have been saying as the story develops (see our weekly news round-ups where those appear).

We have been in the midst of investigating this story for months, but as is often misunderstood in journalism, such real, authentic reporting takes time. A reminder that we are a small (2 full time staff), non-profit organization with limited resources and reporters. If you would like to help support our ability to more efficiently and adequately investigate important stories like this, please consider financially supporting us, which you can do here: https://spectrummagazine.org/donate

Thanks,
-WebEd

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George,
Sincere question: What can be done for their situation? The secular government is one of the actors. It sounds complex and confusing to me. What leverage would the GC have in such cirumstances?

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Hi Amy,
I am not sure what can be done because I am not aware of the details. But, in cases like this, I would rather read a memo from the GC informing that a delegation of 3 VPs, 2 Counsels, a financial expert, or even the President as well went there for a few days to assess the situation, to interact with the authorities, etc.

I am always suspicious of those convenient but worthless “thoughts & prayers.” Every time we have a mass shooting in the US the POTUS sends “Th & Pr” to the families of the victims. Then, after a call from the NRA, nothing is done. Over, and, over, and over.

I am afraid the same may end up being done in Burundi, a “Th & Pr” letter, and that’s it.

Just my concern about it. I am not there so I cannot offer any suggestions of possible solution.

If there is any hint of fiscal impropriety, it should be investigated - to clear the innocent or confirm the allegations. This will not happen as to mention “audit” in some of these places is akin to calling someone a “baby killer”.

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I’m thinking…the GC exec committee can leap over divisions’ authority to warn a union re WO, but they are reluctant (it appears) to insert themselves into financial non-compliance, lack of audits, etc., and are leaving it to the Division, etc., to continue to handle it. (Of course, I have no idea what is really happening in Burundi - secular media indicates significant embezzlement and cover-up, but the articles referenced here indicate a different sort of political/criminal problem. GC may be unable to enforce audits, etc at this point.)

I would think the place to start would would be an open disclosure of why the president was replaced. The very fact that the total justification is we did it because we can, suggests impropriety.

If the members were not consulted, even worse.

The lack of transparency is consistent with TW’s leadership and should be of great concern to even the Anti WO folks.

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