By Christian Downes
On Saturday, Nov. 3, Lee University 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.
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
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 Darlia enrolled in Lee College.
During the scholarship announcement ceremony, 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."
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, Tarukwasha met M.G. McLuhan. 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 Tarukwasha's grandfather, Hasmon
Tarukwasha Zimbeva, who became one of the pillars of their church.
"So there he was," said Tarukwasha, "33 years later, wondering if
his ministry in Africa had borne good fruit."
At the recent ceremony establishing the new scholarship,
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.
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
PHOTO: Darlia Conn and Dr. Paul Conn pose with several
Lee students and alumni who came from African nations to attend Lee
University. The group assembled recently to honor Conn and
her parents, the Rev. and Mrs. M.G. and Merle McLuhan in the
establishment of the new Darlia McLuhan Conn African Student
Endowment Scholarship program. (Photo submitted by Mike