"I wander through the still of night, When solitude is everywhere. Alone, beneath the starry light, And yet I know that God is there. I kneel upon the grass and pray; An answer comes without a voice. It takes my burden all away And makes my aching heart rejoice." "Come unto Him," Hymns, page 114.
The words of the hymn are comfortingly familiar to Amram Musungu.
Born in the east African nation of Kenya, Brother Musungu knew little that could be mistaken for privilege. His village was poor. His family was poor. He was poor. Amram's future was limited perhaps even bleak.
Yet the young man had a brave heart, borderless dreams and the life-guiding belief that God knew who he was.
"It is true that the Lord sees His children, (even if) you are living in a remote corner of the world," said Brother Musungu.
Emboldened by such hope, the affable Kenyan would find the gospel, serve a full-time Church mission and eventually be counted among the student body at LDS Business College. Initially, the Church-owned, high-tech institute of higher education was overwhelming. He touched a computer for the first time at the school.
"My first beginning computer class was taught by a Brazilian professor," said Brother Musungu. "He came to class and said, 'I'll teach you to log in," and I thought, 'Log in? What does that mean?' "
He proved to be a quick learner, eventually earning an associate degree in computer information technology and other diplomas in accounting and science. Now a part-time faculty member at Brigham Young University and a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Brother Musungu was honored by LDS Business College Nov. 18 with the school's Alumni Achievement Award. He is a member of the Sugar House Ward, Salt Lake Sugar House Stake.
After accepting the award, Brother Musungu marveled at how the Church had helped his life progress.
"I'm grateful for the challenges that I have had to go through, but, most important, for the gospel of Jesus Christ that made it possible for me to find my way to this college," he said.
Brother Musungu was raised in a family that valued learning. As a young boy, he attended a school six miles away. Fleet feet were his mode of transportation. Young Amram attended classes at the school twice daily, which meant he typically ran 24 miles a day through bush and brush. (No surprise, Brother Musungu remains a lean marathon runner.)
His family and fellow villagers also helped Amram acquire the resources needed for the mandatory school uniforms and shoes.
In the early 1990s, Kenya was opened for missionary work and the teenage Amram was taught the gospel. Elder Richard P. Lindsay, a former member of the Seventy, was serving as Africa's first area president at the time and remembered seeing Amram during a visit to Kenya.
"I remember feeling at the time, 'There goes the future of the Church. There are the blessings that will come to the Church in Africa because of members like Amram who put the gospel of Jesus Christ first in their lives," Elder Lindsay said.
A short time later, Amram became Elder Musungu, accepting a call to the Kenya Nairobi Mission. His labors took him into neighboring Tanzania, where the Church was young. "It was hard, but we knew we were pursuing the right course. We knew we were on the Lord's side."
Following his missionary service, Brother Musungu's family again pooled their resources and raised the money to buy him a plane ticket to Utah. A generous friend gave Brother Musungu the money needed for a student visa.
Since graduating from LDS Business College, Brother Musungu has lived life in full. He went on to claim a bachelor's degree at Salt Lake City's Westminster College and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah. Brother Musungu has also worked in the Church's finance department and volunteered during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He remains connected to his homeland and culture, coordinating Swahili language translations during general conference and founding an HIV-AIDS support organization that he hopes to implement in Africa.
"It's not about a big paycheck it's about how well you use your education and how you serve your community," he said.
The gospel, said Brother Musungu, remains the compass that guides his life.
"We are so blessed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ acting as the Liahona to help us, to guide us through the difficult challenges of life that we all face every day."
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