Just inside the front door of Julius Esunge’s Virginia home is an office with an empty desk and a large pillow on the floor. This is where he kneels and seeks the Lord, praying for things so big they seem unreasonable.
Esunge grew up in Cameroon, and he’s heading back there on an eight-month sabbatical with his young family. As the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant, he’ll teach statistics at his alma mater in Buea and put In Touch discipleship materials into the hands of hundreds of national leaders.
He’s been praying for a way to rescue disadvantaged children from the streets—to give them an education and equip them as leaders for the next generation. Rather than worry about the money for this, he wrote an eight-page plan for a school he called Hope Academy. And waited.
WATCH: Julius Esunge talks about the impact of Dr. Stanley on his early life.
Then came a call from an organization with a grant to help start building, followed by a donation of property next to the University of Buea—Esunge’s alma mater. There was just one problem: The land provided wouldn’t be enough.
Esunge remembered a sermon Dr. Stanley once gave, recalling when church leaders prayed while walking around the property he believed God intended for expanding the reach of First Baptist Atlanta. Esunge encouraged his team to take a prayer walk of their own around the land they needed. “This is a biblical principle,” he told them. “It worked for Dr. Stanley, and it can work for us.” Some months later, another neighbor donated property that nearly matched the first. Today, they continue to walk, convinced that still others will say of their land, “Here, use it for the school.”
Construction has begun on a facility for preschool through eighth grade (though he envisions expanding through college). While in Cameroon teaching and preaching, Esunge will oversee the hiring of staff, with hopes of opening the school in June, just before returning to Virginia.
“These kids who are coming … are from such poor backgrounds that it’s not just school we’re doing; it’s life.” Esunge recalls how it felt to have nothing, to be abandoned as a child and left without food. Hope Academy will allow the faculty and staff to demonstrate the kindness and generosity of Christ in a sustainable way, as they equip generations of young people for brighter futures—both now and in the life to come.