First-year student Fred Munuku made big sacrifices to get to Ashland Theological Seminary, and now that he’s here, he’s experiencing some unique challenges.
Munuku’s home is in Kenya, so leaving his family was especially difficult, as was processing the many documents he needed to attend seminary in the United States. An even bigger hurdle was leaving his own ministry, Harvest of Hope, which ministers to orphans and drug addicts while training hundreds of pastors throughout rural Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Kenya.
And then came the culture shock of moving to America! Munuku explains, “I am lonely in this culture and not used to it. Africa is very social, but here, some days it’s just me and my books.” Sometimes, even the academics can seem foreign to Munuku. “I come from a science background, with a degree in biochemistry, so switching to theology has not been easy.”
The seeds for Munuku to attend seminary were planted nearly five years ago. Sue Dickson, associate professor of religion at Ashland University spent time teaching in Kenya. Munuku first heard her teach in 2015, and then over the next few years he collaborated with her to train pastors. He loved soaking up her unique expositions on Revelation, the Sermon on the Mount, and other New Testament topics. Munuku ultimately decided that seminary would be his next step: “I needed to see how I could get myself to Ashland Seminary,” he says, to build on the foundation Dr. Dickson had laid.
Munuku’s enthusiasm about the degree he’s pursuing—an MA in Historical & Theological Studies—is helping him to weather his adjustment challenges. “One of the objectives of the program,” Munuku says, “is to help people put the Bible in context so you are able to apply it both in ministry and in life. I appreciate bringing the historical aspect to Christianity. I come from a place where preaching is all about going to heaven and not how the Bible transmits to life.”
Though Munuku is not accustomed to solitude, he acknowledges it has afforded him the space to develop his Rule of Life, a focus of his Spiritual Formation course, and put some disciplines into practice: praying, fasting, Lectio Divina, and sabbath-keeping. He is also passionate about spending time in the course Engaging Texts in Context, which has helped him learn how to think, not what to think.
“Ashland is an open learning environment. What is your theology? What do you think? The seminary gives you room to express your ideas and permission to choose what you add or subtract to your theology. It’s up to you to think.”
Upon graduating, Munuku plans to return to Kenya, where he will continue working with Harvest of Hope and its affiliated school, Ezra College, which he started with Dr. Dickson. His home’s connection to Ashland Theological Seminary is really just beginning.
Ashland Theological Seminary integrates theological education with Christ-centered transformation as it equips men and women for ministry in the church and the world. The seminary offers certificate, master’s and doctoral level programs in Ashland, Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit. Learn more at seminary.ashland.edu.