Worship teams in Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Burundi:
Most weeks I am in touch with Pastor Joseph via WhatsApp, so I was thrilled to hear his report on his recent trips to Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire in August. He was able to fly to both places with Esther, his wife – though one day he told me they got tested for Covid-19 four times! Both ‘Fathers Heart’ and ‘Espoir de Vie’ are teams I founded along with Joseph, so I’m naturally curious as to how they are moving forward. Both have good leadership structures in place. FH now has 34(!) young people and they have branched out into other areas of creativity; poetry, art and drama. They also recently recorded a second worship CD, called ‘City on a hill’. Since 2019, EDV have become well established and are going on strongly. Most of their singers are from one church, so it would be good to see their numbers grow at some point so as to have a wider representation in Abidjan. Now they are focussed on the upcoming national elections which can be a dangerous season of time in many African nations – fear and violence is a constant threat.
Père, guéris ma nation
My voice rises to God and I cry
My voice is raised to God, He will listen to me
Father, may your kingdom come to my nation
Rise up, Ivory Coast !
For the glory of God is upon you
Father, heal my country
Father, heal my nation
Prayer : Father, our hearts long for You
Father, our souls thirst for You
We call out to You in this nation
Our nation thirsts for You
Restore this country.
For Your grace I am pleading
Come, heal my nation
For Your grace I am pleading
How we long for You
A key way these days to reach a wider audience is through film. It’s mostly how young Africans connect, either via social media of course, or on TV. It has been good to see both groups have worked on producing good quality music videos that tell a positive story of healing, reconciliation and hope for the nation. I could give you quite a few links, but here is EDV’s ‘Père, guéris ma nation’ currently available on YouTube (english translation at left if you need)
The story in Burundi is a bit more complicated, though I am still in touch with quite a few who sang on ‘Twarahawe Kumurika’. My main contact there went on to found a new church and ‘Shengero Murika’ is currently a part of his ministry. God is clearly blessing, and Patrick’s commitment towards pastoring that church is beyond question. But I think it’s also fair to say that there have been some contentious issues among those that sang on the CD, so we do need to pray that grace can flow and that a way forward can be found that can strengthen unity. Oddly enough ‘Mu Bumwe’ (We stand together in unity) was a key song for me on that CD; I remember it really touched my heart at the time.
This has already created lots of new friendships between young people from different African nations (in fact, in one case love appears to be blossoming – though naturally I can’t take credit for that!) The pandemic has slowed things down a bit, but Joseph and I are still hopeful that eventually this can turn into a youth movement over time. Meanwhile, the tracks are now mixed and mastered; 10 in English (Kenya, Zimbabwe & SA), and 10 in French (Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire and DRC). We don’t have CD’s to sell yet, but I’d love to link you up to 2 songs in particular. ‘Child soldier’ is a bit unique to my mind. I can’t recall any other Christian song written about children traumatized by war that speaks of bringing hope into their lives. The demo featured some jazz piano, so I tried to take it in that direction; whimsical, thoughtful, but full of hope in the end. See what you think. Can’t wait for them to make the video!
‘Kwetu Africa’ is just my kind of SA township vibe really – love that style. And my friend Barry from Joburg played some stunning penny whistle! Obviously you know what ‘hakuna matata’ means – the rest is a joyful celebration of Africa as a blessing to the nations in Swahili – listen here.
Ministry footnote – is it all worth it? And how do you know anyway?
I can’t remember the last time I sold a CD from the website; it hardly ever happens these days. But I did the other day. Someone in Canada; a Rwandan who moved there some years ago perhaps. They wanted to buy a ‘Rabagirana Rwanda’ CD; funnily enough I had just re-pressed a few as we had sold out a long time ago. After sending it, I got an interesting email reply which forms the backstory to this bit. RR was a long time ago now; think it got released in 2003. At the time I do remember asking myself whether it was worth doing. Lots of time, money, organising and teamwork. The thing is, you never really know if the songs are going to have a wider impact in the nation. They might, but chances are we probably won’t hear about it anyway. At the end of the day it is a step of faith; you do have to trust that God put it on your heart and that He’ll find a way to make it bear lasting fruit, don’t you? In the end I’ve always said to myself that the young people involved will have a life changing experience in making and singing music and perhaps going deeper in their faith – surely that’s worth it anyway even if nothing else happens? And it is, of course.
Good to hear from you. I’m so glad I found the CD! I grew up listening to it in Rwanda around 2005. I remember Uwimana Aime being part of two of the songs in the album. And he’s one of my favourite artists in Rwanda. I still find myself singing the songs and I wanted to have a physical copy to listen to.
I can’t wait for it to arrive! Thank you for reaching out.
God bless you.
Jeremie (with permission)
I do actually know for a fact that very many of those Rwandan children grew up with deep and lasting memories of being involved with RR, and for some it has shaped their world view as young adults – now they are also writing songs and leading worship in their churches. That’s so humbling. But just maybe (in my dreams) the impact went wider? Now you know why I found Jeremie’s reply so encouraging.
Personal footnote… pray for new opportunities!
I won’t embarrass you by mentioning my age, but the years tick by, don’t they? The truth is, I feel very well and healthy and still dreaming dreams about what I could do in the future. Leading worship and working in the studio still excites me. Mixing song arrangements I’ve worked on is a joy these days with all the amazing new music tech software that’s available. I now own software emulations of most of the bits of hardware kit that I could only dream of owning in the 80’s and 90’s! (original Fairchild 660/670 or TLA hardware compressor anyone?…that will cost £thousands!) These days the software versions are cheap as chips by comparison, but absolutely top class and accurate – made by sound engineer nerds who really care about these things.
I normally end with a ‘Diary Dates’ box but since no African mission trips are going to be possible this year, I’ve decided to leave it. Thanks for all your amazing support and prayers. Do stay safe and take care!
Love from Dave & Jean
With special thanks to The Crossroads Trust.
The Crossroads Trust is a Registered Charitable Trust, set up in 1987 with the following aims: to assist in the encouragement of missionary activity designed to foster the spread of the Christian faith; to promote better education between and within diverse cultural settings, and to provide relief for the poor and needy in society. Since 2005, the Trust has focussed solely on supporting the reconciliation ministry of Dave Bankhead and ‘We are One!’ Trustees include; John Jenkins (Chairman) and Simon Shaw. Registered Charitable Trust No: XN74834