Genocide is often the initial thought when most people think of Rwanda. While the genocide in 1994 was a horrific reality, Rwanda continues moving on from its painful past in hopeful ways, specifically in the future of its youth. One example of this is our good friend Allain Irankunda.
Allain is a pastor at Kibogora Free Methodist Church, located in a rural village on Lake Kivu in western Rwanda. He is busy serving the church in youth ministry, working as the coordinator for Rwanda’s Youth for Christ (YFC), and serving with Compassion International. When I asked Allain why he feels called to youth, he told me it was because he remembers what it was like to be young and encounter the challenges youth face. As a teenager, he learned about the gospel from a friend at school. Allain told me he was caught up in drugs and alcohol and had little direction in life until then. After graduating secondary school, he joined YFC’s leadership program to disciple, inspire and prepare future leaders. In 2011, Allain returned to Kibogora to start working at the church. He later graduated from Kibogora Polytechnic and came on staff at the church full time in 2015.
It is immediately apparent how purpose-driven Allain is about youth ministry in this community and beyond. Whether through YFC or the church, he is constantly working to expand to more of the youth population in Nyamasheke and its two neighboring districts. He has big dreams.
After several years of ministry, he has enjoyed the privilege of watching some youth grow older and turn into thriving young adults. His first small-group Bible study started in 2012 and consisted of 8- to 11-year-olds. They have all completed their education and are now in the process of pouring into other young lives. Some in the first small group are now preachers, worship leaders, youth workers or leaders in university outreach. Allain also tells the story of a young man who decided to follow Jesus years after a youth camp. This young man shares a life-changing moment at camp that impacted him even years later. In this continuing cycle, the impact of Allain’s life and efforts are felt as the outreach multiplies. However, he would tell you it doesn’t happen overnight.
Allain continues to plant seeds of hope and grace, simply allowing the Holy Spirit to do what only God can do.