Bishop Joah Lohara, the president of the Free Methodist World Conference, provided this official announcement on June 4:
The Burundi General Conference of the Free Methodist Church chose a new leader to be its bishop in the capital city of Bujumbura today.
Though it may take some practice for the foreign speakers to pronounce his last name correctly, here is how it reads — Déogratias Nshimiyimana.
The Rev. Déogratias has been an ordained minister of the Free Methodist Church since 1994 and has served the church in several key positions such as national literacy coordinator, director of Christian education and conference superintendent. As the registrar of Hope Africa University, he has made invaluable contribution to the academic growth of the school.
Déogratias has an impressive profile of education and training. While he holds a master’s degree in Christian education, he has received specialized training in various courses like “Leadership for Healthy Organizations,” “Methods of Trauma Healing” and “Skills for Conflict Transformation.”Hailing from the province of Mwaro, Déogratias is married to Lea. They have seven children: four girls and three boys.
Before he was elected as the bishop of Burundi, he served as the country’s director for African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM).
Déogratias is a Walden University Ph.D. candidate in adult education leadership for social change. He is fluent in Swahili, Kirundi, English and French.
He is well-acquainted with the suffering of his fellow Burundians. His father and uncles were murdered when he was 12. Their home and their land were illegally confiscated. He came to find freedom not only as he extended forgiveness to the neighbor who had killed his father, but also as his former enemy forgave him for his hatred and anger.
The Burundi Free Methodist Church was established in 1935. It now has 732 churches with more than 141,000 members.