Burundi is a country located in East Africa, bordering Lake Tanganyika, Rwanda, Tanzania, and DR Congo. In the past, it was ruled by Belgium.
Over 90 percent of the people in Burundi believe in God, and many different denominations are there, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Adventist churches. Many Pentecostal churches are in this country, and they have many different names. Islam is there as well.
Therefore, in the Church of God we teach more about salvation and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, emphasizing the three works of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8: to convince of sin (the commandments), righteousness (Matthew 25:1-46), and judgment (Hebrews 9:27). We continue to interpret the prophetic message of the three angels in Revelation 14:6-13.
The message of the Church of God (Seventh Day) is unique, as we have doctrinal differences with other Protestant churches.
As you may know, war has greatly weakened Burundi. It has gone through many periods of war in its history, including ethnic war. As recently as 2015, a crisis from the presidential election created great turmoil in the country, closing it off from aid. Though we are currently thanking God that we have peace, the previous conflicts have caused people to lose jobs. Life is even more difficult with the coronavirus pandemic that is spreading around the world and impacting Burundi. But we thank God that He continues to protect us and His church here, even though people do not get enough food and are hungry.
Despite the fact that life is difficult in Burundi and many people are trying to figure out how to get food for the day, they have the heart to love God and hear the gospel. We preach the good news and make it most effective through educating our evangelists on how to approach people and comfort them in their troubles. These evangelists show love and compassion by helping people with their needs and loving one another by helping with their problems.
The growth of CoG7 Burundi continues in a positive way. We thank God for His grace. The Church continues to teach our leaders through various seminars so that they can be good leaders and love their work. We preach the gospel so that many people receive Jesus Christ and accept baptism from the different churches. We currently have at least one church in seven of the eighteen regions of Burundi: Bujumbura, Makamba, Rutana, Bubanza, Cibitoke, Ngozi and Karuzi. We hope to open churches in the remaining regions.
Despite all these efforts, there is no shortage of challenges, such as finding places of worship. For example, the church of Bujumbura has not yet found an official place to worship. We are only borrowing the current location. Another challenge I face as the leader in Burundi is visiting the churches to comfort and encourage them.
To strengthen the church, one of our goals is to help those who have received the gospel to create small economic cooperative projects and train these people to take good care of them. These cooperatives can help them simplify their daily lives and follow the Word of God with one heart.
Another goal is to secure a projector so we may share the gospel through cinema, helping people understand it better. Because transportation in Burundi is difficult, we want to purchase a car in the near future to facilitate travel to churches far and wide, and purchase bicycles for evangelists to support worship in our congregations. We also want to print books in Kirundi, Swahili, and French to teach the faith of our church.
I was born into the Catholic Church. Later, when I could make my own decision, I joined the Pentecostal church. However, when I realized that the Sabbath was not Sunday, I left that church and joined the Seventh-day Adventists (1995- 2003). In 2003, I started the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Burundi. However, because of difficulty with the government at that time, we started as Messagers de Dieu du 7ème jour au Burundi, or Messengers of God of the Seventh Day in Burundi.
In 2005, we received permission from the government and officially became the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Burundi. My second motive for starting a new ministry was dissatisfaction with the SDA’s faith and teachings based on the prophecy of Ellen G. White. The SDA Church made her teachings of greater importance than the Bible, so I started looking for a church that had only good biblical teachings. At that time I thought of starting a church called the Church of God (Seventh Day), not knowing if it existed anywhere.
Looking back on my life, this period of time had a profound effect on my ministry. Due to the call I had received, I wanted to be dedicated in giving everything I had as a leader. As long as I could help the Church ministry grow in our country, I had to bring the message I had been given to Burundi and spend all the money I had, even though I did not have enough.
As a result, I met loved ones who were thirsty to join the Church. When they were poor, I had to help them live and find a place of worship so that they might join our church. At that time I also met enemies who fought against me and wanted to discourage me from continuing my ministry in this country. Despite all the challenges I faced, God continued to help me. My goal is to finish my ministry safely and rest in peace and wait for my crown.
After doing research on the Internet, I discovered that the CoG7 was already established in America and in other countries in Africa. I wrote a letter and sent it to CoG7 in America, and I received a reply in 2004 from Pastor Bill Hicks. Afterward, Pastor John Njogu and Pastor Robert Crawford visited me. In 2015, God’s servants came to the Burundian church again when Pastor Crawford, Pastor Njogu, and Brother Bryan Cleeton visited the Bujumbura and Ngozi regions. This journey was a tremendous success and caused rapid Church growth. Their visits encouraged us that the Church has other brethren around the world. Thank you, and God bless His work all over the world.
In 2017, we received an official letter from the International Ministerial Congress (IMC) for the Church in Burundi to become an IMC member. We were happy and honored by this decision.
On behalf of the Church of Burundi, we give many thanks to the IMC of the Church of God (Seventh Day). May God protect and bless you so much.
Pastor Alexandre Masumbuko lives in Bujumbura, Burundi, with his wife of 39 years, Beatrice Bukuru. They have seven children.