September 22, 2023

The students’s heads slowly bow as the video starts. Their eyes turn away in a desperate effort to escape the scenes that are all too familiar.

Although their eyes turn away, their ears cannot hide from the sounds of the Rwandan genocide. The video ends

and a man walks to the front of the room. He knows this story by heart and instead of dwelling on the past, he looks at the students and reminds them there is hope.

Alex Nsengimana, a young man who survived the horrors of the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, came to California Baptist University Nov. 14 to meet with the Rwandan international students. He spoke to them in an intimate setting and encouraged all the students to participate in an organization that ultimately changed his life forever—Operation Christmas Child.

Missing flying bullets by mere inches and the plot of the Hutus by just seconds, Nsengimana gives glory to God for saving him.

“It is edifying to see that he gives the glory to God,” said Corinne Bazoza, senior biology major and a Rwandan student attending CBU.

After the death of his mother, grandmother and uncle, Nsengimana was out in an orphanage where he received a shoebox from Operation Christmas Child. He said the shoebox gave him hope that people care.

Shortly after, Nsengimana was chosen to join the African Children’s Choir and traveled to the United States to perform. He was then adopted by a family in Minnesota and recently graduated from Crossroads Bible College with a degree in pastoral leadership.

Nsengimana returned to Rwanda this past March to hand out shoeboxes at the same orphanage where he lived.

While he was there, Nsengimana took advantage of a visit to a prison to speak with the man who killed his family members. He offered forgiveness and prayed over him — breaking down walls of anger and bitterness left over from the war.

“I hope to, first of all, give glory to God, and to also help other people see that they are not alone and to encourage them that whatever they are going through, whatever they are fighting, they cannot do it alone,” Nsengimana said.

Nsengimana said he hopes to someday return to his home village, plant a church, and plant the hope of transformation to a community who is still feeling the pain of the past.

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