January 30, 2019
Most of you who are following what our team in Burundi is doing know that I have construction in my background. I started working with my dad when I was 12 doing HVAC and then moved into all the different trades of construction with a contractor in Clemson by the time I was able to drive at 15. It has proven to be a useful skill set that the Lord has used to put food on the table in college, seminary, church planting, and to save money around the house. But if you spend any time in construction, you will soon find out that laying the right foundation will make the work go smoothly until the very end, and laying the wrong foundation will destroy any hopes of long-term success and will cost the builder and the owner dearly. The other thing you learn is that repairing poor workmanship takes longer and costs more than doing it the right way the first time. Within the last week we have had two exterior walls (one of the ones that that surrounds our house and one of the ones that surrounds the team’s house) fall in the middle of the night. No one pushed them; there was no major wind, and to look at them you would have thought they were fine, but nonetheless they fell. The problem was no foundation and poor workmanship under the concrete façade.
Did I build the walls? Nope. But I am the one who will have to hire craftsmen to come and repair the walls and lay new foundations to ensure that they don’t fall again. (Did I mention that we have a few things going on out hear and dealing with broken walls wasn’t really on my agenda?). The spiritual implications of poor foundation-laying are identical to the problems we are facing with these walls. Paul writes in Ephesians 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
Foundation-laying and strengthening existing foundations is our team’s work in Burundi.
We are seeing the crumbling results of foundations laid by previous missions and the leaders into whom they poorly chose to invest time and energy. Like our walls, the churches and networks of churches they lead are coming apart and falling.
We are encouraging the saints and leaders who are standing in the midst of the rubble around them who are bewildered by the missing foundations they can now see. The wall at our team’s house literally had no foundation. Bricks were laid on top of the dirt.
We are seeing the struggle that many leaders are having as they have to dismantle existing walls in order to start again with great personal and spiritual cost. Some walls will have to be taken apart in order to start again properly.
We are teaching local churches to count the cost before starting new churches to save time and resources for the future.
Please pray that the foundations we lay will stand the test of time. Pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom to know when to partner and what leaders to support. Pray that we will have the courage to tear down old walls and will have the energy to build again.