World Challenge’s partners in Burundi run a children’s home and school so abandoned children can experience God’s love and care as well as grow into strong adults.
When I first found Mukamarakiza, he was living on the streets in Ngozi.
He’d been abandoned early and was 11 years old when we met, but unfortunately this is nothing unusual. Street children in Burundi are common, especially in the larger towns.
Mukamarakiza—nicknamed Mukama by the other children at the center—had a challenging time in the beginning. He was shy and had difficulties speaking, both of which made it that much harder to explain what had pushed him onto the streets.
Finding the Last Surviving Family
When Mukama arrived at the children’s home, I would frequently end up mediating fights and arguments between him and the other children.
The other kids would tease him and laugh at him for his shyness and halting speech. We encouraged him to join our daily scripture teaching program where we train the children to read the Bible by themselves. Mukama was soon among those who liked reading the Bible the most, and he asked lots of questions about the scriptures. Soon, he started attending the church and asked us if he could join church’s worship team.
It didn’t take him long to become the team leader of the church choir. Meanwhile, we were looking for a foster family for him. We always try to make sure that the children we receive at the center return to their families or have a host family in which to grow up.
Eventually, we found Mukama’s mother, the only family he had left.
Announcing this news to him was not easy. Abandonment had understandably left him skeptical, frustrated and angry. The center’s Bible teacher began putting aside time to pray regularly with Mukama and help him work through his feelings.
We arranged for Mukama’s mother to visit him at the center, and this became an opportunity for us to talk with her and pray together. She’d struggled with depression and feeling hopeless about her situation, but with prayer and the renewed hope of a second chance with her child, she improved greatly.
Finally, the time came for Mukama to return home.
An Ambassador for Christ
We keep in contact with children from our center, and we went to visit Mukama and his mother several times. While there, we would share the gospel news with neighbors, but Mukama was also very passionate about sharing news about Christ with others.
Early in 2019, he invited us to visit him again. What we witnessed surprised us; he had gathered many different people and then stood up to share his testimony. He thanked God for protecting him while he was on the streets and then leading him to the children’s center where he received an education and learned about his heavenly Father. He explained to the assembly that the weekly bible study they had now was a direct result of the many Bible lessons he’d received as a child.
He would have never imagined then standing up in front of a crowd to speak. Now his life is full of thanksgiving, even for his past which has led him to this place. His hope is in Jesus who has given him so many miracles and provided for his needs.
One team member compared it to the story in Acts when Peter went to share the gospel with the Gentiles. When Mukama invited one of our team members up to speak to the crowd, everybody listened intently as he shared more of the gospel.
We thanked God for the way he has transformed this young man into an ambassador for Christ, helping his people know the truth about Jesus and be set free.