Dr. Denis Mukwege is a hero. Over 50,000 survivors of sexual violence have been treated at his Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DR Congo, during the last 20 years. For this, he and Nadia Murad received the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Mukwege is the first Pentecostal ever to receive this honoring award.
Dr. Mukwege is very open with his faith. The son of a Pentecostal pastor, Mukwege speaks in tongues and occasionally pastors a Pentecostal church in Bukavu. 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.
Maria Bard, Advocacy Officer at the Swedish Pentecostal Mission’s development cooperation organization PMU, that have partly financed the Panzi Hospital since its foundation, says about Mukwege’s faith:
It is interesting that Dr. Mukwege is accepted in all camps. He’s extremely appreciated everywhere. Both the most conservative organizations and the most progressive feminists love him. And yet, he’s fundamentally just a devout Pentecostal doctor. Whenever he’s asked what motivates him and gives him strength – a question he gets a lot – he points to two things: the strength of the women, and his faith. After meeting him several times, I can testify that Mukwege’s faith means a lot to him.
Dr. Mukwege is not afraid to talk politics when need be. He told the Guardian: “The Congolese people live with unheard-of violence. Unheard of… [President Kabila] is responsible for not putting an end to the violence. His role is to protect his people and their belongings. We see that 20 years after it came to power, this government does not protect women.”
Criticizing a dictator as well as the patriarchal rape culture of his country comes at a heavy cost. In 2012, Mukwege was almost assassinated and his family was held at gunpoint. As a result, they went into exile in Europe, but the next year Mukwege returned to his beloved hospital, continuing the fight for peace, health and women’s rights.
At PCPJ, we want to deeply congratulate Dr. Denis Mukwege for being awarded this esteemed prize, and we pray that his work will continue to transform the Congo.
Micael Grenholm is editor-in-chief for PCPJ.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!