In 1968, Charles Mugisha Buregeya was born to a Rwandan family living as refugees. His parents fled Rwanda after the first genocide in 1959, but settled in another war-struck country: Uganda. Life was not easy for refugees living in Uganda under the rule if Idi Amin Dada and other dictators.
At age 14, Charles was recruited to work for the guerrilla warfare as a child intelligence officer. He spent nights on roadblocks watching for intruders. It was during this time that Charles learned how to pray. As the war came to an end, Charles wanted to return to school. He had a prayer book, but couldn’t find a prayer for his specific need. He laid the book down and began to pray with his own words. Tears poured down his face. For the first time, Charles felt connected to God. He began to attend church in a neighboring village and gave his life to Christ. Just a few weeks later, Charles joined with other young people and began preaching the gospel on the streets.
After attending Bible college in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, Charles began ministry in a nearby village that had no church. Although the spiritual opposition in that village was strong, Charles and his mentor, Pastor Peter Svarigu, prayed and persevered in ministry. Eventually, a church was established and hundreds of people started coming to Christ. Today a church of more than 2,000 people is in that community.
In the early nineties, Charles went to England to preach the gospel. In 1995, after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Charles returned to his family in Uganda and discovered that his father had left and returned to Rwanda. Charles followed. Even though the war had ended, Charles saw signs of death everywhere. When he saw the orphaned children, widows and homeless people, Charles knew he had to do something to help these people.
Charles received an invitation to attend Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, Oregon. With the help of churches and individuals, Charles arrived in the U.S. with his wife, Florence, and their son, Isaac. His burden for Rwanda never left.
In 2001, while in seminary, Charles wrote the ministry plan for Africa New Life. And that summer he and Florence returned to Rwanda to see what God wanted to do with them and through the ministry. When they returned the U.S. for the next semester, Charles and Florence brought 30 pictures of children who needed to be sponsored. After finishing seminary, Charles and Florence returned to Rwanda, established a church and continued to grow the ministry. Today, the organization sponsors thousands of children, operates multiple churches and employs more than 200 people.