For too long, the wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been destroying millions of lives. It is the deadliest conflict since World War Two, fuelled by conflict minerals used in our electronics and cars. Rape is a weapon of war; eastern Congo is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman.
In the midst of this chaos, darkness and death, a bright light is shining. That light will now receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Denis Mukwege is the son of a Pentecostal pastor who has a strong and robust faith in Jesus. The Swedish Pentecostal Mission funded his medical studies and, together with organizations, helped him build and run the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, the capital of the conflict-ridden South Kivu province. Over 50,000 survivors of sexual violence have been treated at the hospital during the last 20 years.
The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict,” according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee announcement on 5 October 2018 in Oslo, Norway.
Denis Mukwege is a Congolese gynecologist and Pentecostal pastor. He founded and works in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been raped by armed rebels.
Mukwege has treated thousands of women who were victims of rape since the Second Congo War, some of them more than once, performing up to ten operations a day during his 17-hour working days. According to The Globe and Mail, Mukwege is “likely the world’s leading expert on repairing injuries of rape”. In 2003, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for “his courageous work healing women survivors of war-time sexual violence and speaking up about its root causes.”
Dr. Mukwege is very open with his faith. Three years ago, he was preaching at the Swedish Pentecostal conference of Nyhem and said the following:
Glory to God! To be here tonight… what a grace! Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, trying to grasp the goodness of Jesus. It’s really a privilege to stand here in front of you tonight, speaking to you here at Nyhem.
I think of how many have spoken from this pulpit who have changed the world. Missionaries who have made a great difference for our time, who have impacted millions of Congolese people and many others across the world.
My dad was always talking about Lewi Pethrus, and tonight I understand why he did it. He was a man with big visions, a man who lived a little before his time, a man with missionary visions for Congo, Rwanda and Burundi and also everywhere in the world.
When I stand here, I also think of missionaries who have preached to me. I think of Oscar Lagerström who, together with my father, founded the Pentecostal assembly in Bukavu. I think of all the missionaries who gave their lives to others. I also think of my own father who was here at Nyhem in 1984.
Oh, how many prayers have come up to God from here, for Sweden and other countries. From this place, people have been praying for my beloved country and tonight it is a privilege for me to stand here as a fruit of your prayers. My congregation belongs to the Congolese Pentecostal Movement Cepac, and with about one million members it is a fruit of your prayers. The Panzi hospital is a fruit of your prayers.
The church must be based on prayer. The Bible tells us to be thankful and thus, I want to be a representative for all those who received the blessings from your efforts in my country and elsewhere, saying thank you from the bottom of my heart.