Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 7, 2009


Visit from Zambia son makes us forget about the weather


          The steady rain has not dampened the joy of having our son from Zambia visit us for a week. Fresh from earning a doctor of ministry degree, Alfred Kalembo came home to celebrate his accomplishment with “Mom” and “Dad.”

He brought with him his wife, Muumbe, and their twin girls, Lindi and Lulu. Three older sons are in school back in Africa. The girls are 10. The oldest son is 21.

Like the biblical Abraham and Sarah, my wife and I were blessed with a son in our old age. About ten years ago we “adopted” Alfred Kalembo and his family. At the time Alfred was completing his seminary education at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He was a classmate and close friend of our oldest son, Matt, who introduced us to the Kalembo clan.

Like his wife, Muumbe, Alfred was born in a remote village in Zambia. The village had no school, medical clinic, or any of the resources we take for granted in America. There was not even a well to provide clean water.

Unlike most of those born in his village, Alfred had a chance to go to school many miles away. The school was run by American missionaries. To get to school Alfred had to walk for six hours, and then ride a bus for three more hours. He stayed in the modest home of the missionaries.

It was in this home that Alfred first experienced “running water” and electricity. And it was there that he was given his first pair of shoes, at age 15. He learned quickly and his good mind afforded him the opportunity for continued education. Completing high school he went on to finish college in Kenya.

After serving as a pastor for several years in the Pilgrim Wesleyan Church, he received a scholarship to attend seminary in the United States. That is when he discovered the blue grass of Kentucky. Seven years after finishing seminary he was back in Wilmore to receive his doctor of ministry degree.

His dissertation focused on the care of orphans in Zambia. A little larger than Texas, Zambia is home to 12 million people, of whom about a million are orphans. Alfred has a burning desire to improve life for these unfortunate children. Most of them have the terrible disease of AIDS to thank for the loss of their parents.

The family is important in Zambia. Alfred believes the family is the key to the care of orphans. Institutional orphanages are not an option for Alfred. When institutionalized orphans turn 18, they are sent on their way – without the loving support of a family.

Alfred’s plan is to place each orphan in the home of a family. The family will provide the orphan with an identity for life. Each family would be supported by a partnering sponsor who would enable the family to send the child to school and provide other basic needs. Right now a sponsor can keep an orphan in the home of a caring family for $333 a year.

The life expectancy of a male in Zambia is 37. Alfred will soon be 49. We kid “Doctor Kalembo” by telling him that, though he is in good health, he is living on borrowed time. What blesses me and Mama is that he is using whatever time he has left for a noble purpose – to give homeless children in his native country a chance for a meaningful life.

We are moved to support his work in every way we can as long as ever we can, for at 77 we are living on borrowed time ourselves. Whatever the future holds, the world is a better place because there are people in it like Alfred and Muumbe Kalembo. + + +