On May 20, 2020, an historic vote will take place in the nation of Burundi to elect their next president. Current president Pierre Nkurunzizi has promised to step down after three terms, following a long, controversial career that triggered political violence in 2015, leading to the deaths of at least 1,200 protestors and forcing nearly half a million to flee their homes amid scores of claims of human rights abuses. In the middle of this political insecurity and unrest, Haggai leader Ferdinand Nduwindavyi stands firm in his conviction that, as a regional human rights officer within the Human Rights Division of the United Nations, it is his duty to continually advocate for respect of human rights.
Despite the killing of Welly Nzitonda in 2015, son of human rights defender Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, and despite ongoing security concerns in his country, Nduwindavyi continues his work and ministry without fear. “I know that even one lost life is too much, and that is why I continue advocating for respect of human rights. What happened in Burundi could happen anywhere, and I believe I am contributing to the global promotion and protection of human rights,” Nduwindavyi says.
“The Haggai Leader Experience in 2012 has impacted my work in the sense that, wherever I am assigned, my priority is to be a disciple of Jesus in my workplace. Since then, I have led four training activities on evangelism and leadership, reaching 370 ministry leaders and professionals. I founded the Forum for Christian Government Leaders composed of 30 public officials and others.
“From Haggai International, I also learned the value of volunteers. Therefore, I started voluntary services in the church. I also introduced a yearly retreat for all the church leaders to refocus ourselves on the Great Commission. My ministry to Burundi has expanded: 16 new churches were planted, and thousands of Christians attend these congregations.”
When asked why he and his family didn’t flee after all the political turmoil beginning in 2015, Nduwindavyi said, “My family and I did not flee because there was no reason to. As Christians, we believe God is in control and can protect us against all evil. Besides, I lead a congregation of about 6,000 people, which is an important number of God’s servants to encourage others throughout the country to stand in the faith. How can I flee?”
His aim is to bring the light of the Gospel to generations by preaching, teaching the Word of God, and leading people to Jesus Christ. Nduwindavyi intends to train leaders who can train others, and so on. He faces many challenges in doing this, however. The greatest challenge is the basic political and financial insecurity in Burundi.
“My conviction is that Burundi will get peace when leaders understand that Jesus is the role model to follow. I believe that good or bad situations happen because of good or bad leaders. My dream is to see decision-making positions led by fervent Christians who fear God,” Nduwindavyi says. “I plan to do everything in my power to make that happen.”