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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