By Leslie Burton
We were blessed to be able to attend the first graduation of Gitega International Academy (GIA).
GIA was birthed out of the vision of Youth for Christ (YFC) Burundi, as the first English speaking school of its kind in the country. The goal of Youth for Christ in building this school was to provide a place where students would not only receive a top notch education, and the gift of learning the English language (as the native language in Burundi is Kirundi, and the official language is French), but also provide a place where students would be nurtured in the Gospel and the truth of God’s Word. GIA invests in every student personally, academically and spiritually.
The hope for these students when they graduate is that they would have developed a deep love for their country and utilize the skills they have learned to invest in Burundi for the long-term future, as Christian leaders. The leadership of YFC looks at GIA as part of the nation building process to develop leaders who would work to bring peace, hope and positive change to their homeland.
Only a few years ago, the idea of this school was nothing but a vision and a dream. Many well-meaning Christians who loved this ministry struggled to believe if this dream would ever become a reality. Freddy Tuyizere, the leader of YFC Burundi is a man of strong faith. He believed God, stood firm, and would not be shaken. He would regularly take mission teams and others to pray over the plot of land where the school was to be built, and continued this process of prayer as he sought God for the funds to build and complete the project.
Being able to not only see the fruit of this faith manifest itself in a completed building, but also witness the first graduating class of students who will enter the world equipped with an excellent education and a strong spiritual foundation was cause for rejoicing. And rejoicing is what we did! There was a multitude of celebration and worship of the Lord that included performances by the national Burundi drum team, the boys and girls choir from GIA and a phenomenal band that lead us in worship in both English and Kirundi. Additionally, our mission team members got to experience the joy of dressing in native African dress and partaking in delicious African food at this celebration.
There was an air of pride that filled the event and a palpable sense of hope for this forgotten nation that is not known or recognized by a majority of the world. The school is proof that God is able to bring something wonderful and beautiful and a hope for the world out of something that appears seemingly hopeless or impossible.