George Bataringaya – Rwanda
George Bataringaya grew up in Uganda as a refugee as his family fled the ethnic violence in Rwanda. He was rejected by his father, and as a result raised himself in the bush. In his own words, “I was like an animal. I did not know how to relate to people—I could not even look them in the eye or speak to them because I thought I was worthless.” His sister was part of the rebel forces that ended the 1994 genocide and she invited George back to Rwanda. Upon returning, George struggled with addiction to smoking and stole to survive. In 2002 George talked to God personally for the first time and said to God: “If you really exist and are strong like people say you are, then I will go to church and give my life to Christ. If I smoke again, I will know that you don’t exist, and that you have no power.” He was invited to church for the first time soon after and he responded to an altar call and gave his life to Christ. At this service his desire to smoke was completely taken away. He was completely freed from his addiction and began to follow Christ seriously on a journey of transformation. George learned he was not worthless, but very valuable. In 2006 George began discipleship training with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). During this time George was praying about what God wanted him to do with his life. He became burdened for young people, especially street kids. So, he started his own sports ministry where he spent much of his time on the streets with a soccer ball ministering to all the young people that he could. It was through this sports ministry that Steve Larmey found George and introduced him to Young Life. George says that Young Life was “great news to me as it was an answer to my prayers of reaching many lost young people.” Since he has started working with Young Life, the ministry in Rwanda has grown from one club to 93. There are now eight full-time staff members and 744 volunteer leaders throughout the country. 37% of the volunteer leaders are female, with a goal of making it 50% in the next few years. George has focused on building strong leadership teams that are unified. He believes this is a huge reason for such great success in ministry. Due to George’s growth in leadership, he now serves as the regional director in Rwanda.
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