Africa University is seated in the beautiful mountains of Zimbabwe and offers breathtaking views to all who visit.
By Matt Landry
I remember a few years ago listening to this amazing choir from a place called Africa University at Annual Conference. Certainly I had heard a lot about the institution during conference gatherings, but to hear the choir in person was a powerful experience. Little did I know that a few years after that experience I would be walking the halls of Africa University. In late March, I had the opportunity to join Bishop Coyner and 20 others in travelling to Zimbabwe and Africa University, as our Conference presented the official contribution toward the institution’s Agriculture Department.
The moment we got through immigration and customs in the Harare Airport, we were greeted by a former student and now staff person of Africa University, Susan, who immediately said, “Welcome home.” What a greeting, what an amazing gift. Honestly, at first I was kind of confused, why did she say “Welcome home.” She shared that we were home because of our connection as United Methodists and our support of AU. The greeting surprised me, but it also represented every step of the journey at AU for our team.
As we turned the corner off of the main road to a long, narrow drive surrounded by large acacia trees, we quickly noticed a large “Africa University” sign. The campus is beautiful, surrounded not only by trees, but mountains that take you to the Mozambique border. While the scenery is beautiful, it doesn’t compare to the people of AU. Everywhere we walked, we were greeted by friendly faces who shared their greetings with us.
One morning we had the chance to meet with several students. My small group talked with a young woman from Uganda who left her children at home with her mother so she could come to AU and learn to get a good paying job to support her family. She sacrificed so much for her education and her family yet had such great joy for the opportunity to study. Her story is one of many, some we heard and many that we didn’t. There’s a spirit about AU that’s palpable. The moment you walk onto campus you can feel God’s Spirit is present. The way the students interact and learn from 26 countries all over the continent; the way Jesus is lifted high and followed; and the way we were welcomed and loved because of our connection as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ; certainly the Spirit was present.
I remember hearing a lot about the mission of AU at Annual Conference and even hearing the amazing choir sing, but being there, walking the halls, interacting with the students, was an experience that confirmed all that we have heard. Friends, Africa University is changing the world. They live out their mission to develop leaders and invest in Africa’s future and in doing so they are changing the continent and the world. I have never felt more connected as a member of The United Methodist Church then I do now. I am a part of a denomination and a conference that is changing the world.
My first Sunday back with my congregation in Indiana was Palm Sunday. I thanked my congregation for their prayers for me and our team that travelled to AU, but I asked them to now begin praying for the people of Africa University and the continent. It’s no longer a just a place on a map nearly 8,500 miles away, it is our “home” away from Indiana. It’s where our brothers and sisters in Christ pray, worship, learn and grow. I am thankful for the experience to travel to Africa University and for the privilege of having a new “home” in Africa.