Lee University has celebrated the creation of the Darlia McLuhan Conn African Student Endowment Scholarship, a need-based scholarship for African students attending Lee. The endowment is a result of the collaborative effort by Lee alumnus Kelvin Tarukwasha, Augustine Bocco and many others who were in attendance at the celebration brunch.
Mr. Tarukwasha said, “I am honored to represent those who worked hard to make this program a reality, and all those who assist international students here at Lee University. I am excited to see that many people who helped me when I was a student at Lee are still actively supporting international students today.”
Darlia McLuhan Conn said, “In a very practical way, this scholarship will continue the good work that God prepared for my parents to do in Africa so long ago, and seeds will continue to be planted.”
Ms. Conn was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, the second of three children born to Rev. M.G. McLuhan and Merle Reesor McLuhan. In 1949, the McLuhans moved to Minot, N.D. where her father served as president of the Northwest Bible College.
In 1953, her father accepted the challenge of leading Berea Bible Seminary, a struggling school in Kroonstad, South Africa, and moved there with his family for the next four years. After a furlough year back in Canada, the McLuhan family returned to Africa a second time, to Salisbury, Rhodesia (now called Harare, Zimbabwe.) McLuhan finished his service in Africa in 1964 and moved his family back to the United States, at which time Ms. Conn enrolled in Lee College.
During the scholarship announcement ceremony, Ms. Conn reflected upon the evidence of God’s care and leadership, citing her father’s memoir, “My Spiritual Journey.” McLuhan recounts, “…I was far away in the bush with two or three African men whose language I couldn’t understand; I had the sense of God’s presence there that just changed everything…my companions sensed His presence too, and while we couldn’t understand each other’s language, we could understand each other’s God, and that was wonderful.”
Ms. Conn said, “In both Kelvin’s reflection and in my father’s memoir, the commonality is a sense of God’s leading and purpose. Isn’t that the reason that we are all here…because God has led us to this place at this time to fulfill his purposes? I have a special affection for African students; we share a love for a beautiful continent that I once called home and a beautiful people–some of whom are now students here at Lee. Thanks be to God for His miraculous plan.”
In 1997, Mr. Tarukwasha met M.G. McLuhan. Mr. Tarukwasha discovered that during McLuhan’s time in Zimbabwe, one of his greatest accomplishments was his focus on raising and training native born leaders. Among those he taught was Mr. Tarukwasha’s grandfather, Hasmon Tarukwasha Zimbeva, who became one of the pillars of their church. “So there he was,” said Mr. Tarukwasha, “thirty-three years later, wondering if his ministry in Africa had borne good fruit.”
At the recent ceremony establishing the new scholarship, Mr. Tarukwasha spoke of his grandfather’s conversion. “In 1962 my grandfather was ordained to be a pastor. He pastored his first church in 1963. Before his passing in 2010, he led hundreds of people to Christ, and trained many pastors and various leaders. I grew up in a Christian home but never really questioned how our family came to know and serve the Lord until I met Dr. McLuhan.”
Mr. Tarukwasha acknowledged the role and assistance in establishing the scholarship of Larry Berry, Augustine Bocco, Renee Lastra, Mike Formont, Brie McDaniel and Phil Cook.
“I believe that many years from now we will talk about the great African men and women that this scholarship helped. If only a few students are assisted, that is all we need to change the world.”