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Pieces of the dream that is Africa University on stage at General Conference

The Rev. Guy Mande Muyombo told General Conference 2012 delegates that he is just one piece of the dream that is Africa University, a dream made possible by the gifts and prayers of the people of The United Methodist Church.

The university in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe, celebrates it 20th anniversary this year, and Muyombo said he stands to represent those graduates in saying thank you to The United Methodist Church.

A celebration of the ministry at the evening plenary April 29 included 15 members of the Africa University choir performing the university’s anthem, “The Dream is Alive,” and a screening of a new video, “Pieces of the Dream,” featuring the stories of graduates and the United Methodist churches that help support Africa University with apportionment dollars and scholarship funds.

“The prayers and gifts of the people called United Methodists, given to build and support Africa University, have changed my life and those of many thousands (of) young men and women in Africa who are answering the call to service … to heal, to teach, to preach … to build a brighter future for their nations,” said Muyombo, who is a clergy delegate to General Conference representing the North Katanga area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Thank you for living out a powerful and transforming gospel in a ministry called Africa University. I am the return on your investment.”

Muyombo is a graduate of the Faculty of Theology and the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance. He now serves as head of the Kamina Methodist University in the North Katanga area.

Jim Salley, associate vice chancellor of Institutional Development for Africa University, said the way to know if an institution is successful or not is to look its graduates.

“As we celebrate the first 20 years of the Africa University ministry, we have only to look around us at this General Conference gathering to witness Africa University’s tremendous impact for ourselves,” Salley said. “More than 60 graduates have been present at some part of this General Conference. Some of them have been delegates; some have served as translators.”

Salley spoke of how, more than 20 years ago, Bishop Emilio DeCarvalho of Luanda and Bishop Arthur Kulah of Nigeria challenged the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry by asking why there were United Methodist-affiliated universities and colleges all over the world, but none in Africa.

F. Thomas Trotter, then general secretary of the board, and Bishop Herbert Skeet, then board president, began working with The United Methodist Church to start that university.

Now, Salley said, there are 1,700 students from 27 countries, and graduates are serving in more than 38 countries “that we know of,” Salley said.

The “Pieces of the Dream” DVD featured Ana Maria Carvalho, a 1999 graduate who is now an operations officer for the World Bank Angola, who spoke about how her work makes a difference.

“Small as it is, every day we make a difference because we are closer to those … to the excluded,” she said. “We are close to those who really need to be uplifted, not just financially, not just socially, but also spiritually because sometimes when I go to the field and I meet the beneficiaries of the World Bank-financed projects … I talk to them and I use the wise words that I’ve learned at Africa University.”

The Rev. Lynn Hill, pastor at Franklin First United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tenn., spoke of how the church wanted to do more than simply support Africa University in a generic sort of way. He said his church’s support of one student, Claire Kateo from Zimbabwe, has made her a part of his church’s family.

“We wanted to specifically have a student that was our student that we then would fund completely and that we would fund all of her expenses that she would need in order to be able to complete her higher education at Africa University,” he said.

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