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Carl Wilkens To Speak At PAA


           Carl Wilkens, who spoke at the United Nations on April 7, 2017, will be speaking to Paradise Adventist Academy (PAA) high school students on May 17.  Wilkens was the only American who stayed in Rwanda throughout the genocide that started there in 1994.  He is credited with saving hundreds of lives. “We think it’s important for our students to learn how following Christ and living to serve makes a difference in this world,” says Monte Nystrom, principal.


           Wilkens was the director in Rwanda of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) when the violence started April 7, 1994.  Although he sent his wife and children to safety, he chose to stay in Rwanda to serve in whatever way he could.  He spent much of his time bringing food, water and medicine to orphanages, and working to protect those whose lives were threatened.


           Nystrom explains the reason he arranged for Wilkens to speak to PAA high school students, “When people in power have no connection to God and choose to live selfishly horrific things happen.  It is one thing to read in a book about the Holocaust, but we believe it is more effective for our students to hear first-hand accounts and to see the difference between self-serving leadership and selfless service.”


           The United Nations held a memorial ceremony on April 7, 2017 at which Wilkens spoke, along with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Rwanda’s ambassador to the UN, a genocide survivor and several others.  The ceremony opened the annual commemoration of the start of the Rwandan genocide on April 7, 1994.


           Since 2008 Wilkens has been speaking to groups, often high school students, about his experiences and what he learned.  “In sharing stories, I’m able to speak about the values that I believe in, core values that come from the teachings of Jesus,” he said.  He focuses on the importance of empathy, respect and inclusion for individuals and society.