Go tell it on the mountain!

Posted on November 27, 2017


Because of you, ALARM’s Frontline staff in Africa have trained and equipped more than 10,000 Christian leaders this year to be agents of reconciliation throughout East and Central Africa. It is impossible to know the number of lives that have been transformed because of the impact of these leaders.

God’s Word is alive and active, and our Frontline staff continually see lives changed forever through ALARM’s training. In fact, they hear so many testimonies about God’s transforming power that they often take them for granted. This is their “normal.” But one testimony from 2017 impacted our staff in Burundi so much that they had to share it.

Pastor Jean Leonard’s Story

Pastor Jean Leonard was one of 100 pastors who attended an ALARM General Pastoral Leadership Conference in February, where the ALARM Burundi staff and a team from Fort Worth, Texas’ Watermark Community Church taught about servant leadership principles. He and the other pastors learned that leadership means to walk in the very footsteps of Jesus, serving rather than being served and forgiving others as Christ did.

These words cut him to the heart.  As Pastor Jean Leonard tells it:

I lived in the church, ministering, but I was egocentric, almost valuing myself as more capable than others.

That flesh-saturated attitude affected my own life, the people I led, as well as my family. It also plunged me into pride. Instead of teaching others, I kicked them away. I never became a model that others should follow. Even fellowship with other ministers was a great challenge for me. This attitude caused family turmoil, and I turned against my own wife.

During the four days of the leadership conference, Pastor Jean Leonard saw himself reflected in the mirror of the Word of God, and what he saw didn’t look good.

I saw that I had traumatized my wife. I even thought of leaving the conference halfway to rush home and reconcile myself with my family as a whole.

Though Pastor Jean Leonard stayed to finish the training, he didn’t wait to confess his sin openly. He got up in front of everyone and told how he’d treated his wife and children harshly, and promised to go home and apologize, kneeling before his wife. What he didn’t need to explain to his fellow Burundian pastors was how shocking these actions were in light of local customs. A Burundian man is never to humble himself in front of his wife, and “harsh treatment”—domestic violence—is widespread in Burundian households, even among pastors.

Word of what the pastor spoke rippled through the conference. But one question remained: Would he actually do it?

Several months later, ALARM Burundi Country Director Rev. Jean-Baptiste Nyandwi traveled to a rural area in Karuzi Province to follow up. What he found amazed him. Not only had Pastor Jean Leonard done what he said he would, but as a result, his marriage, his family, and even his neighborhood had been transformed. Not to mention the pastor himself.

What better proof than the testimony of Jean Leonard’s own wife? As she tells it:

When my husband opened a speech to ask my pardon, I simply concluded he had gone mad. All the same, he insisted, and went on and apologized for all the wrongs he had done to me and the traumatic episodes he had run me into. He went ahead, saying that he wished to do the same toward his children and daughter-in-law. After he had apologized, I forgave him, and I apologized to him as his wife. Guess what! My husband was at the edge of marrying a second wife to teach us a lesson. He repented of that and apologized openly.

I benefited from my husband’s attendance at the training in that he was changed indeed. He now seeks peaceful family dialogue. Before, our children-in-law never trusted our grandchildren to stay with us.   

Now, they compete to send us those sweet grandchildren of ours. Even the neighborhood testifies that things have changed in our home. I extol the Lord for bringing us His servants from ALARM.

When I had become healed after the reconciliation with my husband, I couldn’t keep it in any longer. I rushed to spread the news among the other women. They told me in a chorus: “Oh, how lucky you are!”

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Our Frontline staff don’t always share with us the results of their faithful service. But week in and week out, amidst conflict, economic hardship, and persecution, they selflessly cultivate servant leaders, bringing reconciliation among broken families, communities, and regions. These are the stories we just have to go and tell. 

Will you stand with our Frontline staff in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan as they continue to bring God’s transforming gospel to some of the most troubled places in the world? When pastors and Christian leaders are trained, the Church is strengthened and the gospel advances.

At Christmastime, we’re reminded to go and tell the world that Jesus Christ is born. The testimonies from our Frontline staff compel us to tell not only of Jesus’ birth, but also of the transforming power of His love. God has done His part, sending His Son into a broken world to redeem mankind and reconcile us to God. Will you do your part? 

Partner with us so our Frontline staff and the leaders they develop can continue to spread the message of reconciliation throughout Africa. Help us rewrite the stories of lives affected by conflict and injustice—stories like Pastor Jean Leonard’s—stories we must go and tell.


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