Gilbert Tuhabonye was born on November 22, 1974, in the southern county of Songa in Burundi, a small mountainous country in east central Africa. He is the third of four children. His parents were part of the Tutsi tribe and were farmers by profession.
His love of running was forged early. Gilbert loved to run everywhere. He ran to the valley’s edge to get water for his family.While attending the Kibimba school, Gilbert began running competitively. Running barefoot, he won an 8K race while only a freshman. As a sophomore, he met a man who taught him how to change his running technique by getting his knees up and holding his arms correctly
Fate had another plan for Gilbert.
On October 21, 1993, the centuries-old war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes erupted in horrific reality one afternoon as Gilbert and his classmates were in school. The Hutu classmates at the Kibimba school, their parents, some teachers and other Hutu tribesmen, forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a room where they beat and burned them to death. After nine hours of being buried by the corpses of his beloved friends, and himself on fire, Gilbert used the charred bone of one of his classmates to break through a window. He jumped free of the burning building and ran into the night, on charred feet, the sole survivor of one of the most horrible massacres in the long Tutsi-Hutu war. He ran from that horror into a new life.
Now, 16 years later and more than 8,000 miles from Burundi, Gilbert Tuhabonye is a celebrity in the world of running. He went on to graduate college at Abilene Christian University where, despite being covered with scar tissue from his extensive burns, he was a national champion runner. He is now, by all accounts, the most popular running coach in Austin, Texas where he lives with his wife Triphine and two daughters, Emma and Grace.
Gilbert coaches runners at Run Tex in Austin where they call themselves Gilbert’s Gazelles.
Running into Christ
We do not know if Gilbert ever got to run into Christ, but he sure ran into a new life; a life far away from his old life of violence, hunger and abuse. However, even this new life that Gilbert ran into which according to the world is a life of peace and security pales in comparison to the life Christ offers. Gilbert had to run and change locations geographically, but there is an exceedinly meaningful life that all of us can run into without changing locations. A life so joyful that we have no idea what it means to be a part of it untill we have truly experienced it. This is life in the kingdom of Jesus, this is life that is lived in complete dependence to Jesus Christ. This is life led and actioned by the Spirit, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, Rom 8:14.
The conflicts of the past & I
There was a time when I had lived convinced that life was all about satiating my senses, the Greeks call it hedonism. I was doing things that gave my carnal cravings room for expression in almost every form conceivable, and yet I was in pain, I was in excruciating pain! I didn’t know why, but everything I did from the cravings of my heart made me unhappy, made me sick, and made me lonely. My life was torn apart like a vessel struggling in a tempest. I was tormented to the point that I thought ending my life was the best thing to do, and greived to the extent that I hated myself. I was trapped and I knew no way out, my tears couldn’t cool the heat in my soul, and the years went by. But then one beautiful day, I woke up to Jesus, He spoke from the Word, he spoke through people and he spoke through his Spirit. He spoke sense, he spoke love and he spoke life into me. He hugged me tight and the pain was gone; the warmth of his embrace took away every shadow of despair from me. I fell in love with him; slowly but steadily we became a part of each other. The vulnerability was gone and so was the loneliness. I became part of his Kingdom and I live in his kingdom today.
Irony of ironies: when we do the things that we want, we are in pain, but when we do what He (Jesus) wants, we are happy. This might sound unbelievable to some , yielding to Jesus is the only route to happiness and well-being.
Welcoming all the athletes to the Kingdom!
Therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight , not as one that beateth the air.
Fight the good fight, Finish your course, keep the faith: 2Timothy 4:7
To finish the course is what matters. Finishing is overwhelmingly more important than begining something. We just cant begin and leave midways, based on how we feel. No matter how tiring it may seem, we still can draw strength. A reservoir of raw unadulterated, pulsating energy is in store for us in the stronghold called Jesus. You have no business to call it quits, for the race belongs to the Lord. Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like the Eagles. Therefore run tirelessly and without ceasing, with your eyes focussed on the Kingdom. Run as if your whole life mattered on every step that you took.
The “excerpt” on the life of Gilbert Tuhabonye was picked from the internet years ago, however I have not kept a record of the author/website. As of today, the “source” could not be traced for me to give credit where it is due.