‘Give me a bible’ said a young boy, pushing forward in the crowd surrounding the pick up truck. We were unloading Kirundi Bibles. We were visiting the Mushara resettlement camp in southern Burundi close to the Tanzanian border. A consignment of 2027 bibles had been donated to Rema Ministries
via supporters back in the UK, to distribute to support repatriation and peace
‘Give me a bible’ he asked persistently. ‘You speak English?’ I said, ‘Yes’ he replied. ‘Can you read?’ I asked? ‘Yes’ he replied. ‘The bibles are in Kirundi –
can you read Kirundi?’ Again ‘yes’ was the reply.
Turning to Felibien, director of Rema, I asked ‘Can you see if he can read’. A Kirundi bible was opened and the attempt was encouraging. I gave him a bible
and clutching it he just beamed!
The camp is for returnees being repatriated from refugee camps in Tanzania. They are brought here by the UN from camps in Tanzania before being moved
on to their ‘home’ areas, but for many they don’t know where that is, so they remain at the camp indefinitely.
As we gave out bibles, people came with the torn and tatty portions, the remnants of well-read bibles that had survived fleeing into exile, and many years (some since 1972) in refugee camps.
We went on into the small church, bulging with people praising and singing, a regular event though it was Saturday.
Thanks and praise were given for the new bibles, and the pastor told us a collection would be taken tomorrow for the Bible Society in recognition of their joy!
We gave out about 50 bibles that day, mainly to pastors, catechists, Sunday School teachers and those leading groups. Others were left with the pastor to
establish those in greatest need, who could read and use the bibles. Many others have since been distributed mainly to returnees at conventions and evangelistic events across Burundi.