By Franklin C. Walker
Member at Wesley Chapel UMC, Little Rock
Portia Kuzanga — a Zimbabwe Theology student studying at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina — was in Little Rock visiting friends that help support her stay in America. In Zimbabwe, Portia served as a pastor in the Zimbabwe Annual Conference and has taken time off to expand her education in America.
Portia was appointed pastor of a church at the age of 19 and served for approximately 12 years. Seeing that her Bishops were educated in the United States, she was determined to reach an equal or greater height. She applied online to schools in the U.S. and was accepted at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. She enrolled there in a four-year bachelor’s program. She received a 50% scholarship, worked at a local United Methodist Church and received help from area missionaries willing to help. Portia completed the program in three years.
After completing her undergraduate work with honors, Portia applied to schools to work on her master’s degree. Duke University gave her an opportunity and she was able to complete her master’s degree at Duke. She is presently enrolled in a pre-Ph.D. program at Duke that she hopes to complete in May.
On her winter break, she decided to travel to Little Rock to visit one of those friends that helped out in Missouri but has moved to Little Rock. While in Little Rock, a reception was held for Portia at the home of Franklin and Faye Wilkins Walker. Several members of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church attended, including Pastor Ronnie Miller Yow. Friends of the Walkers and relatives from as far away as Pine Bluff and Newport also attended.
On Sunday, Portia attended Sunday School and Church services at Wesley Chapel. She was able to share her story of how she grew up an orphan, losing her mother at 12 years old to HIV Aids and never meeting her father. The congregation, family, and friends were very warm and welcoming to Portia and her two children, Nigel, 14, and Virginia, 8. Portia shared with me that her Spirit had been rekindled by the love and support shown to her and her children while they visited Little Rock. Portia would like to complete her Ph.D. in Theology.