Medrine Nabalema (‘20) is earning her master’s degree halfway across the globe in Kampala, Uganda – though it hardly seems necessary, given her already impressive resume. A longtime Sunday school teacher and children’s committee members at her local church and, most notably, a senior partnership facilitator with Compassion International, she’s got credentials to spare. So why earn a master’s degree?
Nabalema is a high achiever with an unmitigated desire to share the gospel with children. “My passion is to reach out to every boy and girl with the message of salvation that message of God’s love,” she said in an interview with the college via email. She’s halfway through completing her master of arts in contextualized pastoral ministry, only available through the college’s partnership with the Pastors Discipleship Network, also located in Kampala, Uganda. Through this unique partnership, pastors and ministers in Africa can gain access to Lancaster Bible College’s high-quality biblical education right where they are: working in local ministries, just like Nabalema. “The greatest task in my life is evangelizing and discipling children,” explained Nabelma.
Perhaps the reason Nabelma feels so strongly about reaching children has something to do with her own story of coming to faith. The third of seven children, she had a happy childhood and said her parents placed a strong emphasis on church attendance. It was there, in Sunday school, where a 9-year old Nabelma first heard the message of the Bible explained to her in a way she understood. “My Sunday school teacher Aunt Beatrice taught us about God’s love in John 3:16,” she explained. “At first, I thought that I was a good and obedient child. However, when they explained what sin was, I realized that I was a sinner. I would sometimes take sugar without permission and sometimes disobey elders, and I knew that was wrong.” While those examples seem insignificant and maybe even silly, that was all it took for young Nabelma to understand that if the wages of sin is death, even those things counted. But Aunt Beatrice did not leave the children without hope. “Aunt Beatrice further explained about God’s plan for each one of us to be with God, that Jesus died on the cross for my sins to give me eternal life,” she said. “That Sunday, I gave my life to Jesus Christ.”
Nabelma is a prime example of the impact – negative or positive – an adult can have in a child’s life. She is quick to share the hope of the gospel with children who are eager to listen, all the while being quite cognizant that not all the children she meets would describe their childhood as happy. Many of the children she interacts with don’t have much of childhood. This makes her role all the more critical. “I always invite them to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior if they have never done so before,” she said. At a recent event where Nabelma taught, she saw 44 children give their lives to Christ, a great encouragement to her.
In her role as a senior partnership facilitator for Compassion International’s Ugandan presence, she works closely with local churches – a natural fit for Nabalema. “It is a joy to be part of this process where children encounter the love of God through His people and become that which God created them to be,” she said. “The biggest joy I have found in my role is ministering to children alongside the church and witnessing the success in their lives. It’s like the before and after shots. Every single time I witness this, it is a blessing.” While her job is brimming with hope, it can also be somber. “The most challenging part of my job is when I receive sad news about a child,” she said. “That breaks my heart. The death or disappearance of a child, or when bad things happen to them – during those difficult moments, my strength comes from the Lord.” But one thing keeps her going: “It’s their testimonies that encourage me to keep serving. I am always filled with joy as I listen to their stories of redemption.”
Nabelma first learned about PDN’s partnership with LBC through a colleague and noted that all she’s learned has been practical, helpful and transformative. “What I have received through my education at LBC has helped me immensely in the children’s ministry programs I work with,” she said. “My biblical narrative class has helped me appreciate the Bible like never before. “The knowledge that the Bible is a single story has helped me to connect the story at an individual level. I have always treasured the Bible and it is one of the gifts I share with the children in my life. These courses have helped me appreciate the Bible better, and my prayer is to walk in obedience of the Word and to see every boy and girl receive that precious book, read it, believe it and apply it to the glory of God.”