Carl Wilkens was a missionary living in Rwanda with his family at the start of the Rwandan genocide. While every other foreigner, including government officials, fled the country to safety, he chose to stay and help those he could. Wilkens sent his wife and children to Burundi while he stayed in their home in Kigali. He felt that he could not leave his friends and two workers, who were Tutsi, to die. He recalls praying many times for guidance on this decision, knowing that he may not make it out alive.
He aimed to help as many people as he could, including anyone who make knocking on his door. In fact, he saved over 400 people in the Gisimba orphanage. He saw armed militiamen waiting to kill everyone inside the orphanage and stopped them from doing so. That night, he slept near the kids to make sure of their continued safety. Soon after, he went to meet the governor to ask for help in saving the orphans. By chance, the Hutu prime minister was also there, and Wilkens approached him and asked him to save the children. To his surprise, the prime minister stopped any attempts and the orphans were saved.