Thank you for joining us in prayer for Emmanuel Ndikumana from Burundi.
Located in the Great Lakes region of Africa, the Republic of Burundi is home to approximately 11 million people, of whom 86% are Christians (62% Catholic), 8% practice indigenous religions, and 3% are Muslims. In the 20th century, Burundi was colonized by Germany and then Belgium before gaining independence in 1962. Two civil wars in the ‘70s and ‘90s have stunted economic and infrastructural development, and Burundi remains predominantly rural. Due to extreme poverty, Burundi has one of the most severe hunger and malnourishment rates in the world, according to the Global Hunger Index. The country is also recovering from a political and human rights crisis that began in 2015.
Emmanuel is pursuing a PhD in Theology at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (UK). His research focuses on justice, forgiveness, and the politics of reconciliation in Burundi. Prior to his studies, Emmanuel served as the Training Secretary of IFES Francophone Africa (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students). He continues to serve as President and Executive Director of Partners Trust International, which promotes Christian leadership for holistic transformation in Burundi through theological training, multiethnic fellowship, and community projects.
Emmanuel and his wife Asele have four children: Jolly Emmanuella, Lewis, Elsa, and Melissa.
Emmanuel shares the following message:
I am thankful to God for the way He has sustained me on the journey of research over the last five years. I am very thankful to Him for the people He has surrounded me with, without whom it might have been impossible for me to continue: the ScholarLeaders family, tutors and mentors at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, two very supportive supervisors (an American psychologist and a British historian), and an understanding family and community at home.
When I started the journey in 2014, Burundi’s prospects were very good. Researching on reconciliation promised a huge contribution to the healing of the nation. In 2015, however, another violent political crisis erupted that seriously affected not the nature or orientation of my research, but the way I was going to collect data. Fear, suspicion, mistrust, etc. replaced the openness, and freedom of speech and movement people had been enjoying for the previous ten years. The accusations, counter-accusations, and the policing of speech and movement put my research on hold for a significant amount of time.
The crisis also affected seriously the structures and operations of Partners Trust International, the ministry I work with to enhance Christian leadership through theological education. The school of theology and leadership closed for a while, and a significant number of influential fellowship members serving the ministry left the country for safety reasons. This meant that I could no longer enjoy the full support of the competent team I had put in place before embarking on the journey of research. A significant amount of time and effort had to go into keeping at least some aspects of the ministry running, looking after members who stayed behind, and, most importantly, helping the church in general respond to the crisis.
Today, the situation is somewhat different, although a lot still needs to be fixed. Violence has receded significantly, although there still are reports of isolated cases of murders due to political intolerance. General elections are scheduled for 2020, even though hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced during the 2015 crisis remain outside the country. People freely move around. A number of information media are operating again, though under tight surveillance, while others have been completely banned from airing in Burundi.
I once again thank God that, in spite of all the above, I have been able to resume my research and to make some very significant progress in the last year and a half. If the context continues to improve, or at least remain what it is today, then I have good reason to believe that I can complete my research within 18 months. This is based on the Dean’s Review I had last month. The challenges are too many, but please pray that I can remain focused. I need peace of mind and spirit to remain sensitive and alert without being too affected emotionally by what goes on around me. I need balanced spiritual, emotional, and physical strength as a husband, father, leader, and researcher.
Thank you once again for being partners in this adventure of faith.