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Cumberlands Student is Link Between KBC and the Baptist Convention of Tanzania


Lusako Mwanjejele

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. –In January 2008, the Kentucky Baptist Convention began a three-year partnership with the Baptist Convention of Tanzania (BCT), which will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2010. This relationship is based on six key aspects of partnership: training, equipping, advising, affirming, mentoring and strengthening.

While the partnership is a spiritual one, characterized by these important actions that will strengthen the Christian relationship between the two countries, it has a human representation as well. Lusako Mwanjejele, a sophomore, who is the recipient of a four-year scholarship given by University of the Cumberlands, is that person.

Mwanjejele comes from the Kyela District of Tanzania, where he grew up in his mother’s household with five brothers and one sister. Secure in his position as youngest son, he believed his older brothers would always take care of him, but he lost all his brothers to disease that continues to ravage the population of Tanzania. Now, his mother is raising four of her grandchildren, and Mwanjejele wants to help as much as he can.

A member of the Kyela Baptist Church, Mwanjejele also was a member of the Christian association, Ukwata, when he was a secondary-school student. This service-oriented group provides involvement in a number of activities, including choir and drama. He often had the opportunity to visit and perform at neighboring churches, and even churches farther away, during his years with the group.

The partnership between the KBC and the BCT is not unprecedented, nor is this the first time such a partnership has brought a college student to Kentucky. Moses Mboya, a translator during the first partnership from 1999 to 2001, is a 2005 graduate of Georgetown College, where he attended as a result of the partnership and the efforts of the college combined with those of Georgetown Baptist Church. Mboya is the current executive secretary of the BCT, and he is vital to the current partnership’s success.

Mboya has also been instrumental in making it possible for Mwanjejele to follow in his footsteps to study in Kentucky. He was part of a delegation from the BCT who came to Kentucky in 2007 for leadership training and began talks about a future partnership between the two conventions. Representatives from several of KBC schools attended the meetings and discussed how providing educational opportunities for one or more Tanzanian students could contribute to the success of the partnership. Dr. Jim Taylor, president of University of the Cumberlands, joined the partnership effort when he committed a four-year full scholarship for a student chosen by the BCT.

Selected from twenty applicants for the scholarship, Mwanjejele realizes that he has been given an extraordinary opportunity. His gratitude shows in his wide smile, which only deepens when he speaks about Drs. Edson and Renda Knapp, who helped him to come to Cumberlands. Even with a full scholarship, Mwanjejele still needed help with his travel and incidental expenses. “They made it possible. They bought my ticket. They are wonderful people,” he says. He had met the Knapps and their six children when they traveled to Tanzania for a missions trip, where the two doctors helped provide medical care and their children worked in VBS. The family keeps close to Mwanjejele, and he spends his holidays and breaks with them, usually in their Va. home. However, they sometimes enjoy other places, like Gatlinburg, Tenn., where they visited during the recent Thanksgiving break.

In many ways, it was difficult for Mwanjejele to adjust to his new surroundings. There are numerous differences in the culture, including the foods available. But, although his hometown is very different from Williamsburg, Kentucky, it is also small, without the diversions of a large city, so in that respect, he feels at home. When asked how he likes Cumberlands, he responds, “It is quiet.” He says. “There is no distraction.” He laughs when he says that Mboya, whom he met during the scholarship selection process, had told him not only that Kentucky is a beautiful, good place but also that Cumberlands and Georgetown are great athletic rivals.

A management information systems major in the Hutton School of Business, Mwanjejele enjoys life on campus, “It is easy to talk with students and professors,” he says. He is a member of the junior varsity soccer team, and he enjoys working in the T. J. Roberts Dining Hall to earn money for extra expenses.

Although he appreciates the privilege to work and study in America, Mwanjejele also understands that with privilege comes responsibility. Upon his graduation from UC, he plans to again follow Moses Mboya’s footsteps and work for the BCT, perhaps in technology. While many students look forward to the financial gains they hope to receive after graduation, Mwanjejele is well aware that currently, positions with the BCT are filled by volunteers answering God’s call, as the struggling BCT cannot afford to pay dedicated officers like Mboya. However, Mwanjejele is intent upon success because he wants to repay those who have helped him by helping others.