People Who Inspire Us #2

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PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE US – We think they’ll maximize your creativity, because they sure do a number on ours

To help inspire you, we are posting a list of a few of the people who inspire us. This is where we really need a massive Google doc, because you have your go-to “creativity maximizers” too. Feel free to shoot us an email or leave a comment with the people and sites that get your creative juices flowing, so we can check them out. Stay tuned for more creative and inspiring people and places!

Maggy Barankitse and Maison Shalom, Burundi:

PastedGraphic-3Just as I was tempted to think that I might be living like a Christian, I discover Maggy Barankitse. And it is distressingly clear: I am absolutely nowhere close.

“Love made me an inventor.” That’s the way Maggy Barankitse describes her remarkable life as a missional entrepreneur. A devout Catholic (she trained to be a teacher and attended seminary in Lourdes, France), Maggie worked for the bishop in Ruyigi, Burundi when ethnic hatred erupted in civil war in 1993. A Tutsi militia attacked the bishop’s residence and diocesan office because many Hutus were being sheltered there.

Maggie (a Tutsi) hid seven children in the cupboards of the house during the attack. She tried to reason with the attackers, to no avail; they demanded to know where the children were, but she refused to tell them. Since Maggy was a Tutsi “sister,” they did not kill her; instead they stripped her, tied her to a chair and forced her to watch them hack her Hutu friends to death with machetes. They beheaded her best friend and threw her head onto Maggy’s lap. Just before she died, Maggy’s friend asked her to care for her children.

After the bloodbath ended, 72 people were dead. Maggy risked her life to bury them all. She found refuge with a local humanitarian and began taking in orphans—Twa, Hutu, Tutsi: she took them all. Soon she had to feed and clothe more than 200 children, which led to Maison Shalom, a community whose vision is to see that “every child in Burundi lives in a healthy family and community environment.” More than 20,000 children sought refuge at Maison Shalom during Burundi’s civil war.

Maison Shalom organically expanded based on the emerging needs of the community. After Maggy was robbed of cash on her way to the bank, she started her own bank (today Maison Shalom includes three banks, and extends microcredit to women). People were sick, so she started a clinic; then one day sixteen mothers died in childbirth, so Maggy persuaded the militia to build a hospital, asking them “what they thought would happen when they died if they did nothing good” (see Huffington Post article here). The children needed to eat and get an education, so Maggy started a farm and a school. She added a mortuary to restore dignity to death –and a cinema and a swimming pool to help people play. And each expansion had to be sustainable—it had to pay for itself and provide income for the ministry.

Today Maison Shalom has expanded to Rwanda and serves multiple communities where hatred has led to violence, displacement and despair. Maggy credits faith as her motivation (“If I were not a Christian, I would have committed suicide long ago,” Maggy has said). She believes that God answers prayer, and calls St. Augustine’s maxim “Love and do what you want” the first principle of her faith. The church, Maggy believes, has land and resources—and should use them better.

So… what have you done for Jesus today?

Here is where you can connect with Maggie:

  • Hear Maggie tell the story of Maison Shalom 
  • Read about Maison Shalom here.

For further inspiration and to help get your nascent idea off the ground, attend one of our upcoming events:

The Elephant in the Sanctuary
The Woodlands United Methodist Church

The Woodlands, TX
Cost is $10.00
Register Register and pay online


Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center

Lake Junaluska, NC
$255 per person*
Register here


Institute for Youth Ministry

Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton, NJ
$369 per person*
Register here

If you are:

  • An early stage missional entrepreneur or ministry innovator…
  • A church leader with an idea for sustainable ministry that you want to test out…
  • Someone convinced that we’re called follow Christ into the neediest corners of the earth, even when the budget makes that look impossible…

…then this event is for you.


Ministry Incubators

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