Chantal Umutesi has been with HFLM from the very beginning and is a huge reason why Hope For Life stands so strong today. This month we are delighted to highlight Chantal, co-founder of Hope For Life Ministry, who has poured her heart and soul into the boys and families of our organization for the last four years. Her faithful prayer and devotion has brought real change to so many across Rwanda. Chantal’s life is a true testament of our Heavenly Father’s love, faithfulness and provision.
Chantal and “Littleman” (Claude) embracing. Littleman was reintegrated to live with his grandmother several months earlier, and was very excited to see Chantal
Chantal holds a deep compassion for vulnerable children. As a child herself, she would fill her bucket and begin to bathe impoverished children in her neighborhood. This earned her the name “Mama” at the age of 10, and it has stuck ever since. Her dream of helping vulnerable children continued to grow and she envisioned starting an orphanage someday. In high school, Chantal took part in three days of fasting and praying through her church and had a powerful vision. “I saw small poor kids on the street and a snake was coming for them. The snake was going to bite one child. I was so upset that I ran and grabbed the child and carried him away. And then I thought, what am I going to do? I have no way to provide for this child, but I have to take care of him. So I decided I was going to look for someone who could help me take care of them.” Partnering with Hilliary and Megan brought her vision to life in 2009, when God provided the resources to start HFLM.
God’s protective hand has been upon Chantal’s life and has carried her through many painful trials. Growing up, money was extremely tight as Chantal lost her Father and a brother in early childhood. Her mother was only able to send Chantal’s older sister to school. But God knew of Chantal’s deep desire to study and provided through the Organizations AEE and Compassion International, which sponsored Chantal and her younger brother all the way through high school. During high school, Chantal’s family endured the horrific 1994 Rwandan genocide, where the death toll was estimated to be as high as 20% of the population. By the grace of God, Chantal managed to survive. However, she again suffered significant loss of two additional family members. Another brother and her niece were killed in the genocide along with friends and extended family.
Chantal regularly visits the families and children HFLM sponsors
Chantal with her daughter Mervey
Shortly after HFLM began, UK missions became aware of this incredible woman. As she spoke about her Heavenly Father’s love and faithfulness for her and her daughter Mervey, they were moved to help fulfill her dreams by sponsoring her through University for all four years. Chantal has been a full time HFLM employee, student and mom for the last four years and will finish her degree this December. She is a woman of strength, character, and incredible work ethic that has a deep love for others which radiates from within. Initially she volunteered her time without a salary starting up HFLM, which was a difficult sacrifice: “I knew I had to put Mervey into a nice school, but I also knew I was called to work at HFLM. Working at HFLM has grown my spiritual life, as I have watched my amazing God providing in ways you can’t even imagine. I love my Jesus and my faith has been increased in knowing my God provides, answers prayers, and can change anyone’s heart.”
Chantal’s passion for spiritual development has also impacted the local street boys and generated real change. We have seen her faithful prayers answered and God has softened some of the hardest of hearts of our boys who have lived painful, rough lives. She has boldly proclaimed the gospel that has lead many local street boys to accept Christ as Lord, and she has taught life skills such as savings. Six boys took her counsel to stop buying cigarettes and saved enough money to rent homes for themselves so they no longer have to sleep on the streets.
We are so grateful for this woman and her years and years of commitment. If you wish to pray for Chantal, her requests include: the HFLM boys, growth in her relationship with Christ, and her upcoming internship and dissertation. It has been a blessing to know this woman and she has made lasting impacts on our boys, the staff at HFLM and the whole community in Kabuga.
Chantal with the HFLM boys and staff
Thank you all for your generous donations that not only bless the children at HFLM, but also Chantal and all of our staff.