Missionaries with ties to County bring leadership training to African youth

ORIENT, Maine — Mary (Bartlett) Mulumbe grew up in a rural part of northern Maine where, like many, she was not aware of the struggles people in other parts of the world faced on a daily basis.

But all that changed when she enrolled in the Faith School of Theology in Charleston, where she majored in missions, spending time in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Bulgaria and Malawi.

That school is also where she met her future husband, Robson Mulumbe, a native of Malawi in south eastern Africa. The couple, who married in 2014, have since formed Empowerment International Christian Ministries in Robson’s native country, where they have spent the past 18 months establishing a faith-based, not-for-profit organization with an overall focus to train, raise, and develop the next wave of African leaders with a solid foundation in religion.

This image shows a typical home in the town of Malawi, Africa. (Courtesy of Robson Mulumbe)

The couple have been stateside since June 2, visiting family and trying to raise money to continue their mission work in Africa.

“We will be in the states until Dec. 29, and then go back to Africa to continue our mission work,” Mary said. “We are raising, developing and training young people to be better leaders so that Africa can become a better place.”

“Growing up in remote areas of Malawi, God used my life experiences to shape and prepare me for ministry,” Robson said. “In northern Maine, God was doing similar work in the heart and life of Mary, to prepare and develop her passion for African children. God clearly put global missions on both of our hearts and brought us together in His time to work in ministry together for Him.”

According to the couple, Malawi was ranked as the poorest country in the world by the World Bank in 2015, with one half of the population earning less than $1 per day. That level  of poverty affects development, including health, education, and agriculture.

“The majority of African people, especially those living in rural areas, have very limited or no access to basic human needs such as food, clean water, housing, and health and medical care,” Robson said.

Escaping those extreme poverty levels is complicated, Robson said, by the fact that corrupt leadership in the country is to blame.

“We have resources, but they are underused,” he said. “Everything that is going on is a leadership problem. Everywhere you go, there is corruption to the maximum level you can imagine. If we are a Christian nation, why are things this bad?”

He said it was not uncommon for a police officer in Africa to pull someone over and demand money in the form of a bribe. Politicians are also at fault, making it difficult to evoke change on a large scale.

To help combat this corruption, Robson and Mary decided through their ministry they could become a catalyst of change by working with youths. Through their ministry, the couple focus on leadership training.

During the past 18 months in Malawi, the couple held several conferences, drawing upward of 200 people in each session, with the focus on Biblical leadership.

“We look for church, business and community leaders,” he said. “But the biggest piece is focusing on the youth and young people. We go to universities and high schools speaking about leadership. We are challenging young people to fight the trend and leave a lasting legacy by raising a new generation of leaders.”

Locally, the couple has brought their message to several churches in southern Aroostook County and they plan to spend additional time traveling throughout the United States to gain support for their program before returning to Malawi at the end of the year.

For more information on their work, visit Empowerment International Christian Ministries.

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