On a Sunday morning one January in 2013, the central marketplace in Burundi exploded into flames. By the day’s end the hub of the local economy melted, ending the livelihood of too many. Dozens of mothers waited at the front gate of our little bank the following morning. They cried, lamenting their loss and fearing their future without inventory or income. My husband opened the gate and mourned with them. It was a day when only lament seemed appropriate.
Claude and I wondered how our young bank could survive this devastating blow. Almost 80% of our clients worked in that marketplace. They’d lost everything—and so did we. We felt the weight of the loss and prepared for the worst to happen to our own economic endeavor, because how could our bank survive this catastrophe?
I remember staring into a flickering candle—a lament practice. Jubilee. The word circled back more than once— jubilee. Jubilee economics had been the theological cornerstone of our bank. We wanted to be jubilee to impoverished families and facilitate fresh economic potential for distressed communities. Our dreams seemed so impossible now as we stood on the brink of losing the bank.