Africa University Inspires an Impassioned Poem of Love

Joseph (Joe) Abram, Jr. is a man of many talents, including that of poet.  Before retiring in 2015, he served eleven churches in four appointments over a period of thirty-five years as an ordained Elder of the South Carolina Annual Conference.  In his retirement, he and his wife JoAnn own and manage a home improvement construction business, and he also co-owns with his son Joseph, III, a restaurant located in Marion, SC.

Joe was born and reared in Marion, SC, and attended both the United Methodist and Baptist churches in his neighborhood during his childhood because his father was United Methodist and his mother was Baptist.  Joe earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Carolina and successfully completed the course of study program offered by Duke Divinity School.  He was ordained an Elder in 1994.

JoAnn was born and reared in Orangeburg, SC, and is a life-long United Methodist.  JoAnn was educated in the public schools of Orangeburg County, and is a graduate of Denmark Technical College (SC). She is very active in her local church and in her district, having served as council chair, class leader, UMW cluster leader, and certified lay servant. Before retiring in 2013, she worked with the Orangeburg County Council on Aging.

Joe and JoAnn were married in 2010.  It is the second marriage for both of them, each having lost a spouse to death.  Their blended family consists of 8 adult children, 21 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

Joe and JoAnn have both been long-time, generous supporters of Africa University since the mid-1990's.  Joe first visited the university in January 2014 when he traveled to Zimbabwe with a group of approximately thirty-two South Carolinians, including Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, Resident Bishop of the South Carolina Annual Conference. Upon seeing the campus, Joe was inspired to write six verses of an impassioned ode to Africa University, the second verse of which reads as follows:

Today, my heart leaped for joy and skipped a beat,
When, at long last, I beheld you, my sweet.
My days, months, years are filled with thoughts of you,
That's why it's a joy to do each year what I do.

Each year for the past 17 years, Joe faithfully solicited funds from family, friends, and congregants to provide scholarship support for students at Africa University.  Since his visit to the university in 2014, Joe and JoAnn have pledged to endow a full scholarship at Africa University.  Why?  The last verse of Joe's ode to Africa University explains:

Because we met, my work will never end,
It will live on, in, and through you, my dear African friend.
My prayer to God for you each and every day is
Guide, strengthen, and show AU the more excellent way.
Make and keep her a beacon for all to see,
And help her make your world what you want it to be!

Joe and JoAnn's endowed scholarship fund will provide financial assistance for qualified students for generations to come.  Their legacy of generosity and love for Africa University will always be remembered.

Elaine Jenkins, director of planned giving, Africa University Development Office

A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.