Words: Peter Biles ’20
Photos: Tony Hughes
Emmanuel Kwizera M.A. ’23 is a Billy Graham scholar in the M.A. program for evangelism and leadership at Wheaton. He first arrived on campus with his family in 2021 after spending years working in Africa on behalf of African Enterprise, an organization that seeks to evangelize the continent for Christ.
Emmanuel was born and raised throughout Rwanda. In 1994, he survived the brutal genocide that ripped the country apart and led to the death of over one million of the Tutsi people. Raised in a Christian family, Emmanuel was left wondering how God could have allowed such horror to happen, especially in a country that identified overwhelmingly as Christian. Here, his journey as an evangelist and minister was born.
Emmanuel has learned much from the disaster in Rwanda and sees lessons in it for the United States.
“First, this happened in a Christian country, but the people were not disciples of Christ,” Emmanuel said. “The question is not what happened to the church during the genocide, but what happened to the church before the genocide.” Emmanuel noted that church leaders fused much too readily with political power. “Number two,” he said, “I learned that healing the wounds is part of the gospel. Jesus died on the cross not only for our sins but also for our wounds, for our own pain.” An emphasis on Christ’s payment for sins on the cross can eclipse the reality that he also suffered and died in order to sympathize with humanity’s pain.
Emmanuel is learning this in his own journey.
“What helped me is understanding that I need a journey to be healed. We often forget that God created us with emotions and a spirit—we are body, soul, and spirit. The healing part was so important and is actually part of discipleship,” Emmanuel said.
“In my ministry as an evangelist, we focus on reconciliation between man and God, but also reconciliation between people. I believe that preaching the gospel can bring together a broken community,” Emmanuel concluded.
Emmanuel believes that what happened in Rwanda can happen anywhere, and that the United States, particularly in its current divided condition, desperately needs healing, reconciliation, and restoration. People need the healing power of God’s grace.