hirty-year-old Emmanuel Cyzia from Kigali, Rwanda, is passionate about engaging youth in peace and community development initiatives. Emmanuel has experienced first-hand the result of violence and hatred. At the age of five, he witnessed the genocide rip through this country. “I recall a few things … I knew something bad was happening. When we were running away, I saw people crying in the street … people killing.” Despite having to flee for safety, through God’s grace Emmanuel and his family survived.
During his troubled teens years, Emmanuel was invited to attend a peace camp held by CBM’s partner, the Association of Baptist Churches of Rwanda, and it changed the course of his life. “It was very impactful. We heard about servant leadership and teamwork and ways to bring peace in society, to be a catalyst wherever God has placed you … and we had opportunity to share our talents and discover new skills. I created a peace song that my [church] choir still sings during our annual commemoration of the genocide every April.”
After graduating from secondary school, Emmanuel started Bible clubs and peace clubs among children and youth in neighbourhoods and schools. In 2017, concerned by the high rate of drug use, teen pregnancies and sexual immorality that he saw among youth, he adapted a former church crusade called HIG – Hunga Irari rya Gasore (“Flee from Youthful Passions,” 2 Timothy 2:22) – into an annual camp to mentor, train and encourage youth to set a biblical foundation to guide them in life. “I was able to disciple new young leaders, and now it is so wonderful to see that they are the ones organizing the camp, under my assistance.”
Through Emmanuel’s church, he is now serving across the country, training pastors and leaders from different churches in discipleship and leadership. He has also helped to lead evangelism campaigns in schools and villages, and community compassion efforts – such as repairing the homes of poor widows – with teams of youth from his church. “I am so thankful that God allowed me to raise up other people, and to engage them in youth ministry.”