My name is Athanase Habimana. I was born in 1957 at Butumbalonge in the Masisi commune, Kivu Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to a pagan family.
My mother was the third of my father’s three wives and she had five children. Four of us are still alive, while my sister passed away. My family practiced many of the pagan ways, like worshipping idols and offering them sacrifices. They killed cows and prepared beer for them.
At the age of ten, I attended Kirumbu Primary School (Roman Catholic) in 1969. During my studies in standard six, I received baptism as a Roman Catholic as every student in standard six was forced to do in order to attend secondary school.
I attended secondary school, but nothing changed in my life. My family and I continued to worship idols. I didn’t know the difference between the practices of pagans and Christians. My father died in 1970. I remained with my mother, who was not able to perform the pagan practices.
After my graduation from secondary school, I went looking for a job in order to help my family overcome the circumstances in which we found ourselves. I attended a Protestant church. They told me that before I got a job, I needed to be a church member and baptized. I was baptized in 1978 in order to get a job and help my poor mother. But nothing changed in my life.
God is great and has a plan for his people. One day in 1979, Pastor Sebakara Barore was preaching in a conference in Mayadja. He spoke about sin and its roots, how it grows and that the end of sin is death. He was reading Romans 3:23 and gave an illustration of a drunkard. He said that this man left home earlier in the morning and went to drink. That day it was raining and when he returned home from his journey he fell down in a ditch and drowned.
Sure, I was a drunkard more than that man when the pastor was explaining what happened to that man. My heart was beating, fearing that the pastor saw me drinking somewhere. It was the time that God planned to save my life.
At the end of the sermon, he invited people to give their life and accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. I was the first to stand and ask for forgiveness. The elders prayed for us. From that time, I feel free from sin and have full peace in my heart.
Since I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I have freedom from my past sins and there is no need to look back to the things of my former life. Soon, God placed on my heart the desire to tell others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Sebakar Barore and Pastor Musindi Rugero helped train me for the ministry. It was during this time that God called me to be an evangelist. I have faithfully served Christ ever since by planting churches, preaching in churches, schools and open air meetings.