From Africa to Arkansas: CBC wrestler follows God’s calling

by Erin Nipper

Christian Binganisi was just 5 when he moved in 1993 to the United States from Africa.

“Growing up in Zaire was an amazing experience. My family was very close, so we were always around family and church,” Binganisi said. “When I speak to friends about growing up in Africa, they come to a conclusion that I grew up in a tent and chased cheetahs and lions around in the jungle. Growing up for me was different than what the average American thinks of life in Africa. I was blessed to have educated friends and family.”

His father, a banker, was sent to Raleigh, N.C., to start a church.  

Now a junior at Central Baptist College, Binganisi’s earliest memories are of church activities with his family, and going to church was his favorite part of childhood.

His other earliest memory is of playing soccer.

“Growing up I played on travel soccer teams, and the thought of wrestling never crossed my mind,” he said.

Binganisi met his high school wrestling coach, who invited him to come watch a practice when soccer season was over.

“I fell in love with it. It’s kind of like the love of my life – the sport I should’ve been doing since birth,” Binganisi said. “I loved the fact that it was a team sport, but more so, you get what you put in to the sport. The more time you devote, the better you become as an individual.”

After his 2007 high school graduation, Binganisi attended Wake Tech Community College with ambitions of becoming a businessman. However, after spending two years at Wake Tech, he began to question the choices he had made for his life.

“I began asking myself, ‘What [am] I doing? Where am I going in life? What in the world has happened to me?’ Deep inside all I wanted was God . . . I began to start a relationship with Christ and allowed him into my life.”

After giving his life to Christ, Binganisi began to feel that he was called into the ministry.

“I knew that if I wanted to live the life God had planned for me and for ministry, I had to leave my friends and family. I had to leave home,” he said.

While reading an online forum, Binganisi saw a post about Central Baptist College in Conway. The post said that the school would be adding a wrestling program for the 2010 -11 school year.

Binganisi contacted CBC wrestling coach Ken Prophete, and shortly after, made the move to Conway to wrestle and to study ministry. His major is Bible with a minor in business.

“Christian is definitely one guy I can definitely see as a leader,” Prophete said. “I expect him to come to practice ready to go and give me 100 percent each day, and that’s what he does.”

Prophete also said that Binganisi’s faith shines through in his daily life.

“He’s a Christian. You can’t get any better than that,” he said. “He’s true to the word of God. Any time the guys need something, Christian is there. He has a good heart. He’s a good kid through and through and is a good spiritual man. He’s passionate to do God’s work and get out there and follow the path that God has set for him and be a good preacher.”

Binganisi said that the biggest fulfillment is reaching his potential. Following several injuries last season, Binganisi is making a confident return to the wrestling mat this year. He also incorporates his faith into his wrestling.

“It allows me to witness to my team,” Binganisi said. “Proverbs 27:17 says, ‘As iron sharpens iron so does one man sharpen another.’ That is my motto for this wrestling season: to sharpen my teammates physically, mentally and spiritually – not just in wrestling, but to lead them to God and to be a witness for them.”

Binganisi said that his future plan is to pastor a church and “to follow the legacy of Christ while leaving [his] own.”

“I can say that I have seen the hand of God in my life, and Conway is where God has placed me at this season in my life.”