Burundi Ball


Burundi Ball

I’m about to butcher this true story, but it’s impossible to fact check, so go with me on this. The events are true, the moral is true, most of what is said is exactly what happened. Only my memory stands in the way of complete accuracy.

I was fortunate to hear Steve Carter speak recently. Steve is a challenging speaker who loves to tell stories. I think stories are a priceless way to share history and to teach lessons. Someone who is still famous today used to make a living telling stories in the form that were called parables. They bring a point home. 

While visiting the African country of Burundi some years ago, Steve and his group were there to serve a woman’s group on some sort of a project. As happens frequently in lesser developed nations, money and goods can be tied up for quite some time while being funneled through corrupt political appointees. In a meeting one day, the group discussed methods to gain access to the held-up funding that was needed to serve these women. The need was urgent. 

Frustrated and experiencing zero progress, the leader released each team member to leave for the rest of the day, but to come back that evening with at least one sound and fresh idea as to how they could work through this challenging issue. Leaving the meeting, Steve questioned one of his team members as to where he was going. The man said that he was heading to take a nap. Steve had felt some mysterious prodding, as unusual as it was for him, not being a runner, to take a jog into the nearby town of Mutumba. 

Grabbing his basketball shoes, again, not being a runner, Steve lumbered into town. As he arrived, out of breath and all, he saw a large gathering of local citizens surrounding a basketball court. As he approached the gathering, curious as to the goings on, a local man, seeing an obvious outsider, came up to him and asked if he played basketball. Not sure how to answer, the man again asked him the same question. 

Steve played college basketball and isn’t a bad player, so he said, “I’m not so bad at basketball.” The man quickly said, as he pointed to a man adjacent to the court, “you, out!” and as he pointed to Steve, “you, in!” That was it, Steve just replaced a local man in what appeared to be a rather serious basketball tournament. He had better be “not so bad or better than not so bad.”

After six consecutive wins for Steve’s team, a wicker basket full of money was presented to the team. The man said, “You come back tomorrow, same place, same time. We play for championship and more money.” Steve said, “I’m sorry, I can’t make it, I have a meeting tomorrow to discuss a problem we are having.” The man said, “What is your problem?” 

Steve told him about the issue of the held-up money for the woman’s group and said that there were three local officials who were obstructing its release. The man asked for the names of the officials. Steve said the three names and the man replied, “I’m the second name!” He continued, “Come back tomorrow, and if we win, I fix your problem.”

Steve sat coyly in the meeting that evening listening to idea after idea from the team, until, being the last to speak, he shared his story of what had happened that afternoon while the others were napping. The group was ecstatic and saw to it that Steve was well fed, rested, and free to play the next day. As Steve’s team took the championship basket of money the next afternoon, the official was true to his word and saw to it that the earmarked money for the women was released for its purpose without any “handling” fee.

The moral is simply this, take action! Some choose to slumber and wish for things to get better or miraculously go away. Others, the chosen few, know that FAITH is an ACTION VERB. 



Article contributed by:
Jeff Pinyot
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