For Freddy Tuyizere, the vision suddenly became clear. Born into a Christian home, by the age of 16 he sensed a calling to be involved in changing his nation of Burundi. But it was one awful night that truly brought everything into focus.
“It was not clear up until 1993, when I was already a teacher in high school,” Freddy said. “The genocide had started. We were hearing about it in the boarding school where I was working that parents were killed. I prayed and asked God ‘What should I do?’ That was the day when somebody we did not know, an evil man, came in the night with three grenades into the dormitory where the boys were sleeping. Eight of them were killed. I found myself in front of dead bodies and I cried and prayed, ‘God, what shall I do?’ The clear vision that God gave me was to raise up leaders for Burundi and Africa. That’s how I ended up starting Youth for Christ Burundi.”
Launching Youth for Christ there in 2000, Freddy’s vision of raising up godly leaders for Burundi led him to start several projects in Gitega, the second largest city in Burundi, located in the centre of the country, and “the heart of Africa” as Burundians believe. There, through Freddy’s leadership and over time, Youth for Christ has started an orphanage, a school, a medical clinic and now Gitega International Academy, a nationally recognised Christian boarding school.
“At Gitega Academy boys and girls are getting saved, receiving Christ every week,” said Freddy. “During the week, every week, kids are coming to find the chaplain, the teachers, asking how to give their lives to Christ. We are so thankful to God that lives are changing on a daily basis.”
Youth for Christ Burundi has three other schools around the country, educating over 2,000 young people each year. In addition, they have two projects called Homes of Hope where orphans are cared for and loved. Each Homes of Hope site is made up of multiple homes with a small group of children and a house mother to create a family atmosphere.
One of those who grew up in the Homes of Hope was Edgard Arakaza. Losing his parents when he was very young, he came to Homes of Hope as a five-year-old. He flourished there doing well in school, becoming a worship team member as a teenager, and he is now in university studying business management.
“Burundi went through so many challenges because we lost so many people when the genocide started in 1993. Many children in this nation have no parents due to the long civil war,” Freddy said. “But God called us, Youth for Christ, to reach out to this generation, starting with children. We find them on the street, we find them with people who don’t have any food to feed them, and we bring them to our orphanages. They study in our schools with so many kids from our communities.
“We are working on their heart, their head, and their hands. We believe these are the ones who are going to transform Burundi. We reach out to many young people in the community, reaching out to church leaders, and helping in whatever ways we can. And we are so encouraged to see Burundi changing.”
For more information about our programme in Burundi, visit bi.yfci.org