In the spring of 2023, divinity student at Africa University, Venantie Ntakirutiimana will graduate and enter the ministry in her home country of Rwanda. Her journey to become one of the few Rwandan female pastors hasn’t been easy, and she doubts that she’d have this opportunity if not for the scholarship given by United Women in Faith. We caught up with Ntakurutimana right before classes resumed this fall. Here is an excerpt from her remarks.
Your support of the World Service Fund apportionment supports program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church.
How has the United Women in Faith scholarship helped you to become a leader?
Before getting this scholarship, I was struggling financially. That struggle was an obstacle to my studies at Africa University and I was about to drop out of school. So, this scholarship has helped me to overcome these challenges and go further in my studies in divinity by paying my school fees, tuition, transport, food, medical insurance and books.
Today, I am a skillful and knowledgeable woman. As an educated woman in ministry, I received an opportunity to lead the church and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. With this scholarship, I will graduate in June 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in divinity.
What will you do when you graduate?
When I graduate, I plan to go back to Rwanda, my home country, to serve and contribute to the development of my church and my country. In the United Methodist Church of the Rwanda Provisional Conference, there are few active women pastors due to a lack of education in theology. I plan to help women to study, especially in areas that help them enter into the ministry. I will assist children to go to school and encourage the church to access and construct health centers.
As an educated woman, I will try my best to increase the church membership and plant new churches in all corners of the country. I will invest in agriculture to fight against poverty, unemployment, poor housing, etc.
What have you discovered about yourself at Africa University?
I grew in my family and community where I learned everything according to my culture and local language, which is Kinyarwanda, spoken by more than 8 million people in Rwanda. At Africa University, I discovered how to work together with people from all over the world including students, staff, and visitors, who come with their own cultures and own languages.
Here’s an interesting example: I joined a women’s organization for women from a variety of African countries where we meet at the Women Centre in Mutare, here in Zimbabwe, once a week. Despite our different home countries, we come together to pray, worship, and help vulnerable people.
What surprised you about your college experience?
Africa University is a school where students are nurtured. The university hosts different students from all over the continent of Africa. Every student who joins this school goes back home with knowledge and skills that enable him or her to make changes and develop society for the better.
What were the expectations for you as a girl?
As a woman, I came to Africa University with an intention to develop my talents and gifts in spiritual ministry to be able to lead the church and interpret the Bible accordingly so that I may prepare weekly sermons and lead Sunday services.
What has changed for you at university?
By studying hard at Africa University and by having the support from United Women in Faith who sponsors my studies, I am strengthened and empowered to lead the church that people once thought was an opportunity not for women but solely for men.
How does your family support your education?
Starting with my husband, who also studies at Africa University, I’m happy to inform you that all of my family members are with me on this journey of mercy in which I serve God. I appreciate their (and your) encouragement and prayers.
United Women in Faith Scholars
In 2022, United Women in Faith provided approximately 137 scholarships to students in the U.S. and around the world, totaling close to $400,000. Within that total, slightly more than $85,000 is given to 16 students who attend Africa University (Africa U).
Africa U, founded 30 years ago by United Methodists and located in Zimbabwe, is the first private university in Africa and draws upon the wisdom and skills within and among the pan-African community. Venantie Ntakirutiimana is one of 1,400 students from 25 countries at Africa U, learning and sharing values of leadership, equality, and peacemaking.
United Methodist Women of Faith website
The World Service Fund provides basic financial support to program-related general agencies, which are especially important to the common vision, mission, and ministry of The United Methodist Church. Through World Service funding, agencies support annual conferences and local congregations in living out God’s mission for the worldwide Church. General agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences through services and ministries that are highly focused, flexible, and capable of rapid response.