Kelvin Mulembe, student at Wesley Theological Seminary, is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree and hopes to graduate in 2015. Here he talks about a life changing event that pointed him in the direction of servitude. Wesley Theological Seminary is one of the 13 seminaries supported by The Ministerial Education Fund of the United Methodist Church.
An extraordinary encounter with a nine-year-old boy in Zambia’s capital of Lusaka changed my life.
Lewis was an orphan living in extreme poverty. His parents had died of AIDS and his ailing grandmother took him in. In a disheartening twist of fate, Lewis was an inmate, a prisoner in an adult facility. Lewis suffered all kinds of abuse at the hands of both hardcore criminals and the police. His only crime was street vending, which carried a penalty of a simple fine. But Lewis could not afford it, so they put him behind bars.
When I looked into the terrified eyes of that young boy I was extremely infuriated with God. I questioned why He would allow such a thing. I wondered if there was anything I could do to help Lewis get out of this living hell.
While in contemplation, I remembered Matthew 25:36, “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” It became clear to me that God depends on people to fulfill His will on earth. If God needed to give a hand, I would have to offer mine.
My encounter with Lewis prompted me to bring his case to the attention of the Human Rights Commission, and through their influence, Lewis walked out of prison the next day. From that moment, feeling triumphant and my faith reignited, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I would dedicate myself to helping those in difficult situations to find their strength. So, I started volunteering with a church organization called Lifenet Children’s Rescue Mission.
I come from a struggling family myself, became homeless when my father lost his job, and worked my way through college. I believe that my experiences have contributed to the person I am today. The divine providence I witnessed throughout my formative years allowed my faith to grow with a strong sense of compassion, empathy, generosity, perseverance and personal responsibility. These qualities helped me to complete my Bachelor of Arts in Education degree from the University of Zambia, and sparked my interest in urban ministry.
After graduating, I joined Children in Crisis as a Program Coordinator. This program was my introduction to practical social work. I was responsible for coordinating two community projects: one which provided psycho-social support to AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children – abandoned, neglected, abused, forced into prostitution or early marriage; and a second that included children who were sexually exploited and those forced into child labor. Working for Children in Crisis enabled me to interact with diverse audiences – women, children, religious leaders, police, and other government officials. This work inspired me and solidified my interest in urban ministry as I witnessed the power of God changing lives.
I learned that God loves justice and is without partiality. Therefore, we as His children must act likewise and make every effort to defend those falsely accused, mistreated or taken advantage of. I believe this moral fiber is what led me to pursue a career in human rights. I am equally confident that it has a lot to do with my study at Wesley Theological Seminary, and the Urban Fellows program in particular. I am excited to see where God takes me from here.
— story by Kelvin Mulembe, Wesley Theological Seminary website
Wesley Theological Seminary is one of the 13 seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment designated by the UMC. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100%.