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Tech Arts in Burundi – Meet Willie

June 27, 2013

burundi techDuring part of our stay in Burundi, Africa we had the awesome experience of sharing in a workshop for worship leaders.  We spent 2 days discussing the heart of the artist type topics with about 30 worship leaders from across Bujumbura.  (the capitol of Burundi).  The second day included worship by one of the area worship teams and that’s where I met Willie.

Willie is a young native, maybe college age.  He pulled me aside to talk about tech and gear.  In fact he was the only one in the whole meeting involved with tech.  Burundi, being one of the 3 poorest countries in the world, does not have a lot of resources.  And then here’s Willie, graciously and cheerfully pulling together the best he could with what he had.  He had a basic mixer, some old amps, and some misc. microphones (a couple of real 58s and some Chinese knock-offs).  In fact this outdoor church had a couple of large speakers and even a hefty pair of sub bass.  I assisted in the setup and he even asked for some mixing advice/ ideas.  We traded a few chops and experiences the best we could given the noise (and the fact that I don’t speak French or Kirundi). Willie on the other hand understood my English quite well. It was a joy.

Willie had many of the same questions/ concerns/ frustrations that we all do from time to time:

  • How do you serve the worship team without being demanding?
  • How do you encourage the pastor to hold the mic closer without offending anyone?
  • How do you get volunteers not to abandon the FOH when the band finishes and the pastor teaches.
  • How do you get volunteers to pray with the team instead of constantly fiddling with stuff?
  • How do you make things better with no budget and 2nd hand gear?

It all boiled down to heart, and Willie had plenty – along with a love for God and leading people in the Kingdom.  He wanted to both contribute to a better worship experience and respectfully honor/ yield to leaders. (which is sometimes a delectate line to walk.)  Above all he wanted to glorify God and give his best as unto the Lord.

In the short time we had I tried my best to lead like a pastor and encourage like Todd Elliot.

The only thing I could think to do on our way out is to summon a translator, pull Willie aside and pray in what kind of turned into a benediction.

I asked God to watch over Willie.  I told him that he had a special calling and I thanked God that he choose Willie to champion and lead tech volunteers in his church and the surrounding impoverished area.  I prayed that God would give him a heart to disciple and love those volunteers and that the tech gear and skills would come in time. I told him that there will be times when he feels terribly alone and no one understands him and his needs.  In those times, not to be discouraged or loose heart (or become unkind).  I prayed that he would be allowed to build a healthy relationship with his worship leader and that they would work closely/ have each other’s back as they journey thru life in this ministry.

I’d like to ask all my colleagues in the US to take just a second to pray for Willie and for those you are leading today.

Technical Arts matter. It’s how we communicate to crowds. It’s how people hear the Word. Relationships matter. It’s how we listen and do life with each other.  Be a leader in relationships.  -Blessings.

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