Burundi Union president Lamec Barishinga was detained on his way to East-Central Africa Division year-end meetings in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 24.
Below is my letter to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Burundi:
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
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States