Rwandan Pastor Receives Theological Studies Grant from the St. John’s Benevolent Foundation

By Susan Shinn Turner

Pastor Mulisa Emmanuel has received a grant for theological studies from the St. John’s Benevolent Foundation. Mulisa is pastor of Rukira Lutheran Church in Kigali, Rwanda, one of St. John’s mission partners. The grant will cover half of the expenses of Mulissa’s second year of seminary at the University of Iringa in Tanzania. A scholarship from Lutheran World Federation will cover the remainder of his costs.

“Receiving this scholarship from St. John’s is like a dream!” Mulisa says. “I was not expecting to be selected. Surely I am excited and my whole family and I give thanks to God and St. John’s as well.”

In completing his degree, Mulisa will be just the fourth person in the Lutheran Church of Rwanda (LCR) with a Masters of Divinity degree. The LCR began after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis were killed in just 100 days. Since that time, the LCR has been growing at a fast pace, desperately in need of trained leaders.

But training leaders isn’t easy, especially when you have to travel from Rwanda to Tanzania. “You can fly,” Mulisa says, “but I use the bus, and it takes two days and one night. It’s a non-stop journey, and it’s tiresome. I come home twice a year for two weeks at a time. My family remains at home.”

Mulisa and his wife, Mukakabega Illumine, have three children, Mutoni, 12, Harold, 8, and Ivan, 10 months.

“We are serving the Lord with all of our heart and we hope to serve Him throughout all of our lives,” Mulisa says. “My dream is to see my church grow and see people come to Christ. I also hope the surrounding community can benefit from the Lutheran Church by having schools for their children and other facilities as well.”

The school in Kigali was recently completed with the help of St. John’s. After Carter Woolly returned from serving there for a year as part of the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program, he issued a challenge to the congregation to raise $10,000 to complete the school there. The money was raised within ten days.

Like other schools, it is now closed, Mulisa says. “But we have five new rooms ready to go. We begin with kindergarten, and hope to start primary next year. We have 70 children who are expected to continue with us next year.”

Mulisa continues to have fond memories of Carter.

“Knowing and working with Carter was a great blessing to us,” he says. “I stayed with him in the same house and I consider him as my son. I used to joke with people saying that I have four children and Carter is third one, because when he came, he found us with two children and in the following year, we got another one so they were four including Carter. And he worked with our congregation and children still remember him. For sure Carter was a blessing to us.

“I am really happy to be part of your community.”


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