30 TO 30 Alumni Series – Dr. Kalaba Chali

The 30 TO 30 is an alumni profile series that is celebrating Africa University’s 30th Graduation. This series will profile 30 alumni spread across the continent and globe.

‘To study at AU is to train to be a citizen of the world’

Programme: Bachelor of Divinity

Year of completion: 2005

Nationality: Zambian-American

Current position: District Superintendent

Organisation: The Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church, Kansas & Nebraska, USA

My time at AU

Africa University’s diversity shaped my ability to engage in ministry and relationships across cultures. My interest in multicultural missional contexts is a result of my formation and time at AU, where I quickly learned to lead in a diverse cultural environment. AU gave me the intellectual framework for cross-cultural skills and provided me with the immersion experience to practice these cultural skills. To study at AU is to train to be a citizen of the world!

Post-Graduate Impact and Achievements

After completing my degree at AU, I moved to the United States to pursue a masters in theological studies and a doctoral in cultural studies. As a District Superintendent (DS), I serve as an extension of the Bishop’s office to strengthen, support and provide oversights for more than 60 churches and pastors in the two districts I currently serve. The churches in the two districts are diverse in sizes, rural and urban, and in their missional priorities in their contexts. I also serve on the Bishop’s cabinet with nine other superintendents to help the Bishop in discerning how to deploy pastoral leadership to our 715 churches between the states of Kansas and Nebraska.

Dr. Kalaba Chali – District Superintendent, The Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church, Kansas & Nebraska, USA

My passion to lead through the United Methodist Church is shaped by my interest in Jesus’ incarnational ministry.  Just as Jesus is God-with-us, so too, am I called to be present with people in any socio-cultural environments in ways that they are led to experience God’s deep love and in ways that they can impact the world positively.  As a Christian, pastor and academic leader, I am bound to follow the greatest commandment: to love God and to love my neighbour as myself.  Loving my neighbours is what has taken me to unlikely places and led me to be in relationship with unlikely people for the sake of the gospel. It is also through loving neighbours that I received education through the United Methodist Church scholarships for my bachelor, masters, and doctoral studies.

As a result, I lead to extend the love by giving back. I have worked with the AU leadership here in the US and in Zimbabwe to raise funds for scholarship. At previous General Conferences, I served as an interpreter and donated all the money I received toward AU. Through 2019, I had reached my commitment to donate $25 000 that I received in scholarship so that someone else could also have the same opportunity for education. In 2016, I recruited many interpreters and invited them to contribute. We raised more than $30 000 for scholarships. Last year, during my installation as a District Superintendent, all offering collected went to support scholarships at AU. I believe education is the key to unlock many of Africa’s potential and Africa University is one unique institution of higher learning that can play a big role in this endeavour.

Overall, I place AU at the very top of progression and excellence because of its combination of academic distinction, intentional international and multicultural environments, while instilling a diverse and vibrant spiritual experience embedded in service to others, especially the most vulnerable. To graduate from AU one has to have acquired some skills in working with people from other cultures, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds. I would say, many of us graduated from AU with a lot of life experiences acquired by simply being students at AU.

I am proud to raise the banner of AU high and recommend this institution to prospective students and invite both alumni and friends to invest in Africa’s future through AU!