About now, we had expected to be just re-entering American life after spending a few weeks to a month in Europe, mostly in England in partnership with friends in Beverly. We were expecting to have been able to wrap up projects and say good-bye to friends. We were expecting to be able to hug our friends when we greeted them upon arrival. Instead, we have entered this world that looks so different, but where our need for God is so clear. We need him for our health, for our relationships, for our community, for our rest, and for our purpose.
Here is an excerpt from a message that Russ wrote immediately after we arrived home at the end of March:
We are thankful to be home, but we are very sad that we had to leave so suddenly. There are many friends who we did not get to say goodbye to before we had to leave, and we left behind almost all of our things. We had planned to leave at the end of April to avoid being in Burundi during the elections, but leaving this quickly was a shock to us and our Burundian friends. We know that we made the right decision, but it is painful to be apart from them, and we also feel some guilt for leaving them in such a challenging environment while we have the freedom to travel. We ask that you would please pray for them and for us. Coronavirus in Burundi would look very different than other places in the world. Praise God that Jesus is still on His throne.
We are still waiting to hear more about how coronavirus has affected Burundi, and we know that it will likely continue to affect the country and the region for a long time to come, so we are continuing to pray. The election happened last week, and there has been peace so far. Please still continue to pray with us.
Our team is doing well–seeing people slowly and readjusting to what life will be like here in Charleston for the next season. Although it was necessary for us to leave Burundi for the short-term, we know that our sisters and brothers there are long-term partners and friends, and we look forward to the ways we can serve each other and our neighbors together for a long time. For now, that looks like encouraging and praying from afar, assisting digitally with the work, sharing stories with friends here to engage others, looking towards the future of church-planting Charleston, and continuing to be involved in sending people to and from churches in Burundi.