Article By: Suzanne R. Holsomback
If you are around Truett Seminary for any length of time, you will come to know the bright smile and contagious laugh of Jabu Lunsford. You cannot help but be drawn to Jabu's warm and cheerful disposition as you pass her in the halls or talk with her in the Great Hall. Her passion for ministry and a deep love for others radiates from her.
Jabu began at Truett in the fall of 2006 as a dual degree student working toward attaining her Masters of Divinity alongside a Masters of Social Work in Baylor University's School of Social Work. When Jabu completes her dual degree in 2010, she will have a total of four degrees from Baylor. Laughing Jabu says, "I love to learn!"
Jabu's story really begins a continent away in Africa, specifically in Zimbabwe. When she was in high school, her mother met and befriended an American woman at a Baptist World Alliance meeting. Jabu's mother related to her friend that Jabu was interested in attending a university in the United States and through that friendship Jabu was able to come to America in 1975 and begin Baylor in 1976, graduating in 1979. It was at Baylor she met her husband and married and had her son in 1979. After the sudden passing of her husband, she returned to Zimbabwe with her one-year old son to live with her parents.
Jabu did not stay away for long. She returned to Baylor to work on her Master of Education and after completing the degree in 1982, she moved back to Africa and worked as a high school counselor and an English as a Second Language teacher. For twenty-four years, Jabu worked in Zimbabwe and her son grew up, graduated from school, and decided to attend Baylor as well. Smiling, Jabu says, "Since my son was over eighteen, he was able to petition for me to come and live with him and since my parents had passed away by then and I was on my own. So I am here."
During the years of teaching a desire to attend seminary began to grow in Jabu's heart and soul.
"One day I was walking and I said, 'Lord, I just want you to do something that will glorify you. And I feel that I need to learn to do whatever it is.' Just of out blue, I said that I want to go to seminary." Smiling she says her pastor in Zimbabwe confirmed her calling and encouraged her to pursue what the Lord told her to do.
It was during her son's graduation in 2005 that Jabu learned of Truett Seminary. Between celebratory festivities, Jabu's son took her to see Truett and walk through the seminary. Impressed with the seminary and curious as to what was happening there, she decided she would visit on her own the following day. As she entered the building, she met Dr. David Garland, then Associate Dean, and soon found herself in the Truett Student Services office. "Oh man, I was impressed," Jabu exclaims. Sighing she remembers, "They gave me the catalogue to see what they offered and this is what I said, 'I would like to learn Greek!' It has been my desire just to learn languages - Greek and Hebrew."
During Jabu's visit the student worker asked her what she thought she would do with her degree if she was accepted and finished. Jabu related her ministry interest with senior adults and the student worker brought up the idea of a dual degree with Social Work. Jabu thought a degree in Social Work would be nice due to her background in school counseling, but also because she could merge ministry and community care together with the dual degree program. "So then I was introduced to the School of Social Work and Dr. Diana Garland. And I am glad that I am here."
Thinking over her time at Truett Jabu says, "I have learned a lot and something that touched me was the unity. The way we are just like family, the professors are open to anyone...and it is just like I can tell them anything. They become like fathers, like brothers. And also the students themselves, everyone knows my name. They made me feel welcome and they show concern about my wellbeing. I like that. I love being here. I really do."
Through the Social Work degree and the internships Jabu fulfills as part of her degree, she has had the opportunity to minister to senior adults in several different ministries. She says, "I went to a nursing home and that is when I realized that is exactly where I want to be because listening to the elderly as they tell their stories and when they say 'Pray for me,' makes me feel so good that I am helping someone feel at home." She also says listening to stories and learning about the lives her friends have lived has enriched and blessed her life and faith. Thinking about the future, Jabu foresees continuing in senior adult ministry upon graduation in 2010.