I don’t know what names your “friends” called you when you were growing up but I had a unique combination—Shorty, and Moses. You may have guessed why they called me Shorty, and you are likely to have guessed correctly. But I’m not sure you can even begin to guess why they nicknamed me Moses.
I used to stutter quite a bit as a child. I grew up around kids who knew Bible stories and they knew them well. Since the Bible says that Moses stuttered, they nicknamed me Moses. But it was this very stuttering plus my interest in music that led me to finally meet Dr. Arlene Taylor.
We had a quartet of eleven-year olds. It was one day while presenting an item of music in our church that something suddenly dawned on my mind. "Why is it,” I asked myself, “that I stutter when speaking but don’t stutter when singing?” This baffled me and the question lingered on my mind for a long, long time.
There was another thing I also discovered while growing up and that was I couldn’t organize my things in the same way as my younger brother, Israel, did. In the early morning rush to go to school, many times I delayed because I couldn’t find one thing or another. We had no bookshelves while we were growing up. So my wise parents had given each of us a corner in which to keep our books. Like Cain, I envied my brother whose corner of books was fairly organized. Even when I tried to organize my books in the way my brother did, it didn’t take more than two days before they were every which way again.
When I came to study at Andrews University Theological Seminary (where I pursued a Master of Divinity and later a Doctor of Ministry degree), my childhood questions did not leave me alone. They led my Doctor of Ministry research probe into the brain. Although my primary interest was to use the findings in developing a drug prevention program for children ages 3-12, my secondary findings led me to conclude that the Seventh-day Adventist church is primarily a left-brained church. I believe that we need a worship style that reflects more than half a brain!
These secondary conclusions led me to write an article that was published in the October 1991 issue of Ministry magazine. It was this article that resulted in my path crossing that of Dr. Taylor. She read my article and wasted no time in writing to me. I received her letter shortly before I returned to Africa.
I don’t know how good your geography is but I come from a small country in the South East of Africa known as Malawi. However, when I returned from the USA, I was sent to Solusi University in Zimbabwe where, after six months, I became head of the Theology Department. Apart from my administrative duties, I taught thirteen credits a week that included one credit of University Chorale (which happened to be the official school choir). I also organized a choir of children known as The Positive Kids. This group of children used musical dramas to teach other children how to live a positive and drug-free lifestyle. On top of this I traveled extensively, preaching and holding musical concerts.
With all these things going on at the same time, I finally decided to write to Arlene and ask if she could offer some suggestions as to how I could cope with such a hectic schedule. She gave me some tips and mentioned the Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment (BTSA). She explained that it could help me to really get to know myself. I wished I could do the assessment but Zimbabwe (Africa) and the Napa Valley in California (USA) being so far apart, I simply dismissed the idea.
In November of 1995, I accepted a call to become the Youth and Children’s Ministries Director of the Eastern Africa Division, with the head office in Harare, Zimbabwe. Ten countries covering the eastern portion of Africa became my new territory. And God worked things out miraculously so that in March of 1996 I had to attend meetings in Washington, DC. And it so happened that, earlier on, Dr. Arlene Taylor had written me that there was going to be a brain-function seminar (The Brain Program) at the Health Center at St. Helena Hospital in early March.
I am happy she remembered me because it was through her contact that I managed to attend this exciting seminar in the Napa Valley of California. I learned a tremendous amount! I only wish I could have been introduced to this information earlier in my life.
And yes, I began to understand the answers to some of those childhood questions. In addition, with the knowledge I gained from the BTSA and through attending that weekend seminar, I realized that up until then I had just been surviving. I am now really beginning to live and to thrive. At the age of 43, I can truly say, better late than never!