Boniface Butoyi

From Child Soldier to refugee to peace Ambassador 

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Wesley College is a blessing to many students, but there are special students who come with unique life experiences who instantly become blessings to Wesley College’s staff and students. Boniface Butoyi is one such student. 

 

Unfortunately, many times, those special students become who they are due to the many challenges they lived and moved through. When Boniface was only five years old, civil conflict erupted in his home country of Burundi. He was quickly separated from his parents and forced to become a child soldier for the militia, being used in the conflict against his own people. On the move- He managed to escape and fled as a refugee to Tanzania where he spent the rest of his childhood in a refugee camp. 

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In the refugee camp life was hard. Families were given limited resources and no jobs or work was available. Boniface struggled through hunger and endless days of limited freedom to focus on his education and growth. Even as he succeeded in completing the limited education offered to him, life was not done with the challenges……At 19, Boniface was forcefully returned to Burundi where he discovered the seizure of his family’s land. While trying to get the land back–they threatened his life. He did not see a future in his home country and he again, for the second time in his life, became a refugee- this time at a Kenyan refugee camp. 

Life in Refugee Camp

Boniface persevered

Despite a life of struggles and challenges where many people give up, Boniface persevered. He married and started a family. He received trauma and family counseling training, allowing him to help others struggling to live in this desolate environment. Boniface’s purpose started to reveal itself as he became more involved in the church while in the refugee camp and experienced a calling to ministry. Through a special effort, Wesley College staff worked with three different nations’ governments (Burundi, Kenya, and Tanzania) getting Boniface his first passport, student visa, and permission to be out of the refugee camp. Continuing to be on the move- Boniface, with his new call to ministry, started his theological studies at Wesley College. 

Boniface at Wesley College

While at Wesley College, Boniface continued to grow and move forward in his calling. He grew spiritually and intellectually which is now reflected in the holistic approach he takes to helping others in the refugee camp. 

 

Boniface reflects on how the practical education at Wesley College has given him confidence saying, “there is no place that I cannot stand and preach the Word of God.” Most importantly though was the leadership experience he had. Boniface grew from thinking that leadership was about telling others what to do and instead grew to understand that leadership starts with yourself and the “way you behave, the way you value and respect yourself.” People respond to being a role model and leading through example. 

Spreading Peace

Taking these lessons with him as he graduated Boniface got on the move and found a new role in the refugee camp. Soon after graduating he was ordained as a pastor in the Kenya-Ethiopia Annual Conference and appointed to serve several local churches in the refugee camp in Kenya. In addition to his pastoral duties however, Boniface wanted to help bring peace to his fellow refugees who continued to experience conflict, stress, and trauma. Many times in the refugee camp, the conflicts that caused people to flee their homes followed them due to the warring groups ending up in the same camp. Boniface offered up the holistic ministry that he learned at Wesley College by addressing spiritual, intellectual, and emotional needs through counseling as well as campaigns for peace inside the camp. 

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In the fall of 2022 Boniface received a scholarship to study at Africa University in Zimbabwe and is now on the move to yet another country to further his education and ability to be in ministry to those experiencing the complicated and difficult situations that he has already navigated in his short life. 

We see in Boniface’s story the small steps he made in changing his life and the lives of others even when these small steps were made at great personal sacrifice.  We see his dedication in many of our students as they work to move forward to impact lives in their communities. Your willingness to support our students be on the move, transitioning away from poverty and towards abundant life is what makes these steps possible. It is only by all working to move forward that we can change these young lives. See the ways you can be help students be On The Move by clicking the link below.

 

 

 

 

 

You can watch and listen to Boniface's story below to see all the ways he was On The Move to a better future and how Wesley College played a role.