When asked what he might want to celebrate his retirement and 42 years of ministry, the Bishop Marcus Matthews was audacious. He wanted a Fitness Center to enrich the lives of the students at Africa University.
Through a love offering, the Baltimore-Washington Conference raised $300,000 as seed money for the new center. On June 10, Bishop Matthews stood in a field of acacia trees, near the foot of a mountain in Zimbabwe and turned over a shovel full of dirt.
On that clear morning, a historic moment quietly unfolded as the campus community broke ground. It was one of those moments one doesn't forget: when a dream slips from the soul and becomes a technicolor reality. It was like faith being lived out loud, with a soundtrack from the Africa University choir.
The fitness center, which will require at least an additional $500,000 to build and more to equip and staff, sits next to the tennis courts near the entrance of the university. It will be part of a major sports complex.
The courts were funded by the Washington West District, led by then district superintendent Marcus Matthews. One of Bishop Matthew's spiritual gifts seems to be nurturing others in their stewardship.
During the ceremony, Matthews touched on this. "Sometimes we receive not because we ask not," he said. "We asked God to support Africa University. God is answering our prayers."
"We've broken ground here in faith. We know our friends will water the seeds the Baltimore-Washington Conference planted here today. God will bring the increase," said Furursa, citing 1 Corinthians 3:7. "It is God who makes things grow."
Once complete, the fitness center is expected to provide a venue for a variety of sporting activities and enhance the quality of student life. The facility is expected to further increase Africa University's competitiveness over other universities in the area and globally.
Melissa Lauber, director of communications, Baltimore-Washington Conference.
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.