Last week I was in Washington, D.C. to participate in the Value Voters Summit hosted by the Family Research Council at the Washington Hilton. Whenever I’m in the nation’s capital, I cannot help but stand in awe over the rich history that drips from just about every place I turn. The Lincoln Memorial. The United States Capitol. The White House. The Washington Monument. And the National Museum of American History among other landmarks.
I’m also impressed with the thought that for more than 200 years, presidents and members of Congress have come and served in this city–for better or for worse. Clearly, our role as American voters is to identify and elect the best representatives to conduct the affairs of the nation. I’ll admit, it’s tempting to be cynical that, regardless of where you look in the world, most politicians are self-serving leaders who lose sight of putting their country first.
Which is why I thought I’d take a moment to highlight Pierre Nkurunziza. Pierre doesn’t typically make the headlines here in the U.S.. That’s too bad. Pierre is an exception in the jaded business of politics. As far as I’ve read, he leads his country with a heart of gold and hands-on acts of service. Admittedly, Pierre has a tough job. He’s the president of the East Africa nation of Burundi, a country which has suffered greatly from ethnic violence (which claimed the life of his father), poverty, famine, and AIDS.
Even with these and a host of other serious problems plaguing his country, Pierre remains steadfast in his faith in God. Writing for The Monitor in Kampala, Rachel Kabejja describes Pierre’s Christian faith this way: “President Nkurunziza has a passion for God; you can see it in his eyes. He won’t end a sentence without making a reference to the goodness of God.” She adds, “He is the first president I have heard openly calling people to repentance.” He even encouraged cell phone companies to send daily Bible verses to subscribers for inspiration. Imagine if our president tried that move in this country!
Furthermore, Pierre isn’t all talk. He possesses the rare quality of having the heart of a servant–which, in my view, is a critical component of strong leadership. Take, for example, the Saturday routine that is a part of the culture of Burundi. From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., the entire community participates and takes pride in cleaning and repairing their streets as well as the gathering places in town. The shops remain closed while the work is done. And guess who you’ll find rolling up his sleeves to work along side of the regular folks? The president.
Burundi may be the smallest country in Africa–as well as one of the poorest nations on earth–but they have a leader whose example is nothing short of inspiring. My prayer during our election cycle is that God would raise up men and women into all levels of government who, like Pierre Nkurunziza, would set aside self-interest and, instead, lead America with prayer and a servants heart.