From Death To Life
When the police knocked on his door, Jean Baptiste Mugarura knew he was going to die.
They forced their way in and made him kneel by his bed – the same place he knelt every morning to pray. He continued to pray while they beat him – eyes fixed on the small picture of a cross that hung on the wall in front of him.
He had brought that picture with him from his Haggai Leader Experience three years before.
By God’s grace, Jean Baptiste survived that beating. But 800,000 other Rwandans didn’t – butchered in their homes and even in their churches, mainly by teenagers armed with clubs and machetes.
He fled his country, his banking career, his family and friends – escaping with only his life and his faith in God. But even then God began laying the foundation for what would become his life’s calling.
“When I left the bank, I had nothing with me, except the assurance that God had called me for the youth ministry in my country, and the training I had received at Haggai International.
I had no money, no property, and most of the people I had trained were no more,” Jean Baptiste says.
Seeing the way young people were turned and exploited by their political leaders left Jean Baptiste determined to work for his nation’s children.
“I want to see every young person in Rwanda given an opportunity to see, to savor, and to serve God. Less than 10 percent of kids get quality education. Not only does this hamper leadership development, it also perpetuates poverty in our communities.”
He started with nothing. Today, he leads Youth for Christ in Rwanda, which employs 130 full-time staff and has two cooperatives of about 30 people. It runs two schools with over 1,000 kids – 300 from extremely impoverished families. Since 1995, he estimates they have reached more than half a million young people with the Gospel.
“My main aim is to develop a generation that believes in Jesus Christ and lives for Him.
So, through spreading the Gospel, discipleship programs, leadership development, education in Christian schools, and meeting the needs of the young people, I want every youth of Rwanda to be a follower of Jesus Christ in a local church,” he says.
Jean Baptiste has seen first hand the lack of quality education in his country.
He says, “We have situations where it is hard to distinguish between a high school graduate and a college graduate. I have trained university graduates and found that they lack basic knowledge that used to be taught in elementary. I have also seen a lack of disciples. When we bring young people to churches, there’s no mechanism to help them grow in their knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ.”
But with Jean Baptiste and his team’s help, that is changing. They currently have six Youth for Christ chapters in 20 towns across Rwanda. In each town, they have at least 300 young adults in intensive discipleship programs.
In 2009, Jean Baptiste also started the school of leadership and discipleship where, every year, they bring 30 top high school graduate leaders in for eight months of discipleship and leadership training before college. Because of that training, they now have a campus ministry in all three branches of Rwanda’s National University, and their alumni are also in the process of launching campus ministries in three private Rwandan colleges.
He says, “The number of young people we have reached with the Gospel since 1995 is above 600,000. We have mobilized young people, and over the last 15 years, we have built more than 30 homes for homeless people. Only four of these houses were sponsored from outside Rwanda. None of these would have been achieved without the training I received at Haggai International in 1991.”
Jean Baptiste might have spent his life working in a bank. “They never fired me,” he says, “but I never went back.”
Reflecting on the role of Haggai International in his ministry, Jean Baptiste says he is glad the Lord chose to work through his obedience.
“My message to those who sponsor Haggai leaders is simple – thank you. You made a huge investment in the Kingdom of God. Always remember that someone somewhere in the world can have an even greater impact in their society if they are given an opportunity to train the way I did in 1991.”
Jean Baptiste Mugarura was a speaker at the 2018 Haggai Global Summit. View his full presentation below.
Jean Baptiste Mugarura
Youth for Christ in Rwanda
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