Below is the story of George Bataringaya, who is the founder of Youth Renewed ministries :
George Bataringaya was born between the years 1980 and 1982. He was one of 23 siblings, the children of three wives. George came into the world in the middle of chaos, in a family life constantly erupting in disputes and quarrels. George lacked the love and affection every child needs.
His father spoke one message over George’s life---his message being that his son was worthless and never going to be anyone. His father’s words rolled over in George’s young mind leaving him feeling sad and rejected. Days came when he felt as though suicide was his best option and he tried this way of escape on more than one occasion.
George began smoking as an attempt to relieve some of the stressors of his life. This habit, or addiction he would say, added to his struggle when he began to steal to pay for his habit. Sometimes he only stole tobacco ; sometimes he would steal things to sell for tobacco. Other times, he would steal money. This was George’s life for nearly seven years during primary school. Despite all that was against him, George managed to finish primary school in 1998. It was then that George began a new chapter in his life. His sister, knowing about George’s life and struggles, invited him to come stay with her in Rwanda.
In his new school, George sat by a Christian girl named, Jacqueline. She urged him to stop smoking, telling him God could help him with his addiction. On a Sunday in 2000, George talked to God personally for the first time saying these words : “If you really exist and are strong like people say you are, then I will go to church and give my life to Christ. If I smoke again, I will know that you don’t exist, and that you have no power.” George went to church where others prayed for him. His need to smoke tobacco completely stopped. The desire left him. He received Christ that day.
In 2006, George began discipleship training with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). During this time, he prayed about what to do with his life and God told him to draw a soccer ball. His love of sports, along with his compassion for teenagers, led him to a vision for his ministry. His desire was to use sports, an international “language,” as well as his testimony, to help teens that were addicted to drugs, or were on the streets. He wanted to tell them God exists and loves them. Not only did he want to tell them of God’s love for them, he wanted to show them God’s love, to be there as a friend and mentor.
George started this ministry after finishing his classes in 2006. Immediately, he went straight to the streets. As soon as he began to live his vision, he was met with challenges. He had great compassion for the street kids, but lacked resources. His attempts to reunite “street kids” with their families were met with fear. Their families were afraid if they let the kids come back into the house they would steal from them. This broke his heart and led him to a time of prayer. He needed clarity for what to do with the kids that had nowhere to go. As he waited for direction from God, George began to play soccer with kids. Soccer was a way to bring them off the streets. When they finished playing, he would sit them down and talk to them about Christ and His love.
George’s plan to use sports as means to minister to hurting kids started with just five kids. Now over 300 children come every week. The problem still remains of what to do with the kids that have nowhere to go and no way to pay school fees. George knows the potential these young people have to be contributing members of society, but it is hard to get them out of the situation that they are in. Truly, the challenge to raise resources for such a large number of children is staggering, seemingly impossible, but George is not giving up hope for those resources to come for the kids he is reaching out to each week.