Belonging & Connectedness in the Church
My name is IRAMBONA Pacis Alarine. I am Burundian, 27 years old and am the second child in a family of 5 children. I am about to graduate as a medical doctor. I am also a member of the United Methodist Church in the Burundi Annual Conference, Bujumbura District, Cibitoke Parish.
I don’t have an exact memory of when I started to be called a United Methodist Church member because I grew up seeing my parents and my siblings attending the United Methodist Church in Burundi. Indeed, the UMC has always been an extended family beyond my biological family.
I used to view the church as perfect—it was a home, a family, a refuge for church member in times of difficulties. The church had a lot of ministries and events that were actively promoted and attended.
When I was younger, I remember going to Sunday school classes. I was so excited to go to church on Sundays to learn about the word of God, see my church friends, share food and drinks with other children. Everything seemed perfect at that time and my love for the church grew.
But things change. About ten years ago, that image of the church I grew up with seemed to disappear slowly. The church struggled with leadership, and almost all areas of the church were affected.
Today I am one of the national leaders of the youth ministry, and a leader of choir and Sunday school in my parish. Due to the issues we are facing as youth in our annual conference, I have seen a lot of challenges for young people in the church.
For many reasons, young people often feel they do not belong to the church. For one, there is lack of financial support for youth ministry. We have not had a visit from the leadership of young people’s ministry in the upper levels of the church, which could encourage and strengthen our ministry to move forward. It’s also rare to see youth of our annual conference invited to international youth meetings as others conferences are.
In spite of these things, youth activities and programs are continuing, primarily by the support and involvement of local churches.
Written By Irambona Pacis Alarine