Obinna T. Emeh comes from a big family in Nigeria. He said he had a lot of fun growing up with eight brothers and sisters, but life wasn't always easy there. His family didn't always have access to electricity and clean water.
"We were responsible for providing our own electricity and water. In order to do this, we had to buy diesel to run a generator and pump water. Diesel is very scarce and expensive in Nigeria. This made the cost of living high, which was stressful and tedious for my parents."
Emeh said a corrupt government and high crime rate complicated matters even further.
"People were responsible for their own security and protection. I am glad my parents we able to overcome these circumstances to ensure that we lived a good life in Nigeria."
Despite those challenges, Emeh has fond memories of his childhood. He completed elementary and boarding school through the ninth grade in Nigeria. His parents then brought him and his sister to the United States to live with an aunt in Texas so that they could continue their education.
Emeh is currently a sophomore studying chemical engineering at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. While he grew up in the Methodist church in Nigeria, he said he did not realize how much The United Methodist Church would help him until he moved in with his aunt.
"I felt at home as soon as I walked through the doors (at Grace United Methodist Church in Arlington, Texas). The congregation was friendly and welcoming," he said.
"One of the ways The United Methodist Church helped me was by providing my sister and I with school supplies. We were awarded gifts for our academic performance, which encouraged us to constantly strive for success," he said.
After graduating high school, Emeh received an Ethnic Minority Scholarship, made possible through the World Communion Sunday offering. He said the money relieved the financial burden from his parents and inspired him to want to help other students after graduation.
Emeh said he is proud to be a student of Lamar University, where he is acquiring the skills needed to be a successful engineer. He hopes to work in the pharmaceutical industry one day.
While attending school, Emeh also has been volunteering with a program to get children excited about science. As part of the National Society of Black Engineers, he helped with the Golden Triangle-Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering, which hosted enrichment sessions for elementary and middle school students.
"The opportunity to volunteer with (these programs) has influenced me to encourage younger students to pursue a career in science and engineering. The United States ranked 23rd in the science component of the Program for International Student Assessment. The United States needs to be more engaged in areas of science education. I will encourage students to partake in science-related activities with the resources I have."
Emeh encourages United Methodists to continue to give generously on World Communion Sunday. With the support of the church, he said, World Communion Sunday gives students like him the opportunity to achieve a college degree and their dreams.
Julie Dwyer, general church content editor, United Methodist Communications
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God's children. The special offering provides World Communion Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.
When you give generously on World Communion Sunday, you equip gifted, qualified students from around the globe to become the world changers God created them to be. Give now.